Business Continuity Planning: Ensuring 'Business as Usual' When the Unusual Happens
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Overview: Business continuit - keeping the doors open, no matter what - is a goal that nearly every business owner has, regardless of the type of business. Managing operations effectively, maintaining profitability, and making sure that customers and employees are satisfied are vital elements for business continuity, but alone they do not provide a guarantee against closure. A successful, profitable business that is located in an area where natural disasters are a seldom occurrence does not mean that it will remain open. Chemical spills, ice storms, and pandemics can prevent access to the office. A mandatory quarantine can be as disastrous as a flood when processes are unclear or must be stalled, even if a company's documents and data are accessible.
Far more common than natural or manmade disasters, employee turnover, strikes, or walkouts can result in the loss of significant corporate knowledge as well as inconsistent work quality. New staff members have to figure out the expected routines and work their way toward success. Customer service standards, service level agreements, and regulations can become difficult to meet. Without a well-conceived plan, a business can suffer greatly, and in a worst-case scenario, it can collapse.
This article is intended to help businesses that are trying to decide if they need a continuity plan as well as those that are seeking to create or revise one. It will also assist companies that are thinking about creating a plan in conjunction with current or planned process automation. Practical considerations are shared for getting started on the right foot, including end user acceptance testing and other tips to encourage staff to buy into the process. Readers will also learn how business continuity planning can be used as the foundation for future process automation and greater organizational efficiency.