Is your business prepared for an emergency? The COVID-19 pandemic is the most recent example of why organisations of all sizes need to consider building a Business Continuity Plan. As we continue in these troubling times, we are seeing clearly that being well prepared is critical.
A Business Continuity Plan’s objective is to quite simply to do everything that you possibly can to try and ensure that your business can continue to function in a disaster scenario. It means having a wide enough choice of operational options ready (which includes, tested) that may reasonably allow you to deal with even the unforeseen contingencies.
The problem is, many organisations believe they do not have the person-power or resources to invest in planning for the continuation of their business operations. But that is simply not true. The reality is, it doesn’t take a huge investment of any kind to develop a basic plan – and not having a plan is starting to look unthinkable. At a high level, there are just 5 steps you need to consider when developing your plan:
1. List All Possible Disaster Scenarios
Consider the most likely natural and human-caused disasters and determine what the potential effect could be on your business, and what you would need to do to prevent or minimise the impact. Take into account geography as well as location – for example, is your region prone to earthquakes, or your location prone to flooding, or is your building wooden? Always consider an extended power or internet outage as a feasible risk. Then develop estimates of the impact on your business for each scenario, for varying lengths of time, along with the estimated costs to get your business up and running again. For each scenario, is it enough to have relocated workforce options in the same city, or do you need to have out-of-region resilience? You’ll see that the potential downside risk is usually much higher than the cost of disaster preparation.
Resources to consider: Talk to your insurance company, independent risk assessors, and disaster recovery and remediation firms.
2. Develop a Communications Plan
It’s a problem when you don’t remember someone’s number on a regular day… but it’s a more serious situation when your business is impacted by a disaster and you can’t remember the most relevant names and numbers for the situation. All organisations should have regularly maintained comprehensive lists of emergency numbers, distributed to department heads and kept in easily-accessible locations both onsite and offsite, to make sure that the right people can always be quickly reached. Remember that hard-copies or offline copies need to be available!Encourage your staff to make the same arrangements within their families, as no one can have time to think about the business if they are panicking about getting in touch with their own families. Lastly, ensure a website update is on your BC Plan and that whoever owns the website internally is aware of this and has a selection of back-up pages or banners ready to be activated in the event of an emergency that let your critical contacts know what’s happening and any actions they should take.
Resources to consider: BCP – 3 Templates To Ensure Essential Services
3. Ensure That You Can Continue to Service Your Customers
Highly important is the need to ensure that your business can remain operational no matter what happens, either at head-office or at your other locations. Your communications infrastructure – both internal and customer-facing (usually your contact centre and operators) – needs to be as resilient as possible. Whereas you would once have needed to set up a duplicate communications infrastructure (and thereby doubling your communications costs), now all you need to do is leverage the Cloud. The Cloud is capable of providing you with the operational flexibility you need to run your business, no matter what happens, no matter where you or your people are, no matter the device they have in hand – cell phones, tablets, laptops and so on.
Resources to consider: Talk to your Service Provider about your options for business continuity with Cloud. Options could include (1) a proactive long-term move to the Cloud, sooner rather than later, to assure future business continuity – or (2) the opportunity to simply reserve your place in the Cloud, at a lower cost, ready for an emergency but temporary migration from your current on-premises solution to the Cloud. This option should also allow for yearly or six-monthly test-runs to ensure a smooth transition if required.
4. Establish an Offsite Meeting Location – Physical or Virtual
All businesses run best when people can regularly meet face-to-face – your company was almost certainly built on those interpersonal relationships, so if you can, it is important to establish a temporary worksite. The type of business you run may dictate the need for another physical location and you may have enough meeting space for all your needs – but if not, consider integrating some type of video-based meeting capability into your communications infrastructure. It will give your organisation even more operational flexibility and will enhance your ability to meet face-to-face with your customers, suppliers, partners, and employees. Don’t underestimate the value to your staff of regular face-to-face engagement to maintain relationships with co-workers, both for improved productivity and responsiveness, and for mental health and resilience.
Resources to consider: Explore your options with your Cloud/Hosting/Data Centre, or communications infrastructure provider, and/or Executive Office/Temporary Office providers.
5. Test Your Plan
One of the critical keys to successful disaster recovery is testing your business continuity plan regularly. Everyone must know exactly what to do, where to go, and how to communicate across the organisation and with your customers, partners, and suppliers, to keep your business running smoothly, even during a disaster.
Hopefully, you’ll never need to use it, but as we’ve recently seen, hope is not a substitute for solid planning. Smart businesses prepare. And, as you now know, it’s easy to be smart.
Enghouse Interactive is committed to supporting you and your customers during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Being a cloud-powered organisation, we leverage the same benefits and operational flexibility that we provide to our customers. This way we ensure that our teams can continue to provide our customers with the support they need and expect. By working remotely we can also ensure that they can do their jobs safely, efficiently, and effectively while protecting themselves and their families.
Resources to consider: Enghouse Interactive offers a selection of rapidly-deployable solutions that help your organisation to operate with the flexibility and agility you need during these challenging times – and ensure confidence and peace of mind in the meantime. Check out this page for more information: enghouseinteractive.com.au/enghousecloud. You can hear how other businesses faced the challenge, or get some tips on managing a remote contact centre workforce – along with other useful resources. Visit our Work from Home page for more.
Our support teams, across all our cloud-based services, are in place to provide 24/7 support. Existing SLAs and SLOs will continue to be adhered to.
Ongoing Support and Services
The Professional Services teams are fully operational and running “business as usual”, with a new process to triage COVID-19 related issues and requests.
Existing monitoring and support services also remain fully staffed, with extra coverage available in the case of any need.
As we continue to monitor the situation in our region we encourage everyone to follow the guidelines posted by their regional official agencies: