Businesses across Australia and the world are renewing their focus on cyber security, and many are prioritising key security measures to reduce their risks of security incidents or data breaches. But it’s important to think beyond solutions that work to prevent incidents and also consider measures that will help keep you operating if disaster does strike. 

Business continuity planning is crucial if you want to be able to maintain business operations to some degree after a disaster. It’s a bit like insurance – you hope you never need to use it, but it’s lifesaving if you do. In Australia, businesses face various risks that sow the need for business continuity planning, including natural disasters, cyberattacks, and supply chain disruptions. 

However, many businesses still lack a comprehensive plan. According to recent data, 51% of companies do not have a business continuity plan in place. This lack of preparation can lead to significant operational disruptions, financial losses, and even permanent closures.  

So, we’re helping by providing a business continuity template. Here, we’ve outlined some of the key questions you should ask to help you structure your plan and gain a greater understanding of how to ensure ongoing protection in the face of disruption or disaster. 

Why having a business continuity template can help 

Understanding and addressing the challenges involved in business continuity planning is essential for creating an effective plan. But like many cyber security measures, it can be hard to know where to start or what is most important to include. 

It’s made harder still by the fact that a business continuity plan looks different for every business and may shift as the business changes or grows. 

However, by building a clear and robust plan that states ‘what’ needs to be done, you are immediately putting your team in a strong position to work out the ‘how’ if or when a disaster hits. When you have the what under control, the how is much easier to do. 

When something goes wrong, business continuity planning has shown to: 

  • Reduce the length of downtime 
  • Reduce long-term operational or reputational damage  
  • Protect the interest of stakeholders and customers 
  • Reduce costs of impact 

5 questions to kickstart your business continuity planning 

1. What are the potential risks and threats to my business? 

Before you can plan how to operate through and recover from a disaster or disruption, you need to know what threats might impact your business. Thanks to their increasing frequency and widespread media attention, most businesses are hyperaware of cyberattacks. Ransomware attacks are particularly prevalent and dangerous at the moment.  

However, it’s important to think about risks outside the realm of digital and data. For example, some Australian businesses are also at risk of being impacted by natural disasters (depending on where they or their suppliers are located). Supply chain disruptions, caused mostly by overseas conflicts or disasters that are out of our control, have also been increasing recently. 

To understand what the biggest risks to your business might be, it’s important to conduct a thorough risk assessment to identify potential threats. 

 2. What are the critical functions and processes that must be maintained? 

Over the last five years, 54% of businesses experienced downtime incidents lasting at least eight hours. Many experience incidents that last much longer. Determining which processes and functions are absolutely critical to maintaining business operations means that you can build a plan that ensures these are prioritised and protected.  

This requires developing a business impact analysis (BIA) to identify and prioritise critical functions and processes. 

3. How (and to who) will you need to communicate during a crisis? 

When business operations are interrupted, many people feel the impact. Employees, stakeholders, and customers all need to be made aware of what is happening, how it affects them, and what (if anything) they need to do. 

There have been many examples of large-scale incidents where employees and customers have been less than impressed with the way businesses have communicated with them, which can have reputational impacts that last much longer than initial business downtime. 

Create a detailed communication plan that outlines how information will be disseminated during a crisis, including who it will come from, what it will say, and when it will happen.  

4. Do we have a reliable backup and recovery plan? 

Business continuity often relies on having robust backup and recovery solutions in place to protect data and ensure quick restoration of operations. Many businesses are moving data and applications to the cloud because it is easier to ensure data backup and recovery. However, 37% of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have reported losing data in the cloud. This shows that no matter whether you’re using on-premise or cloud, it is important to implement regular data backups and test recovery procedures to ensure data integrity and availability during a disaster. 

5. How will we maintain supply chain continuity? 

Supply chain disruption is becoming more common and can have one of the biggest long-term impacts on business operations, even after the initial disruption has been rectified. 

75% of companies experienced supply chain disruptions during the early days of the pandemic, and 90% believe these disruptions will have long-lasting impacts. 

Developing contingency plans for supply chain disruptions, including identifying alternative suppliers and maintaining adequate inventory levels, can be incredibly helpful in ensuring little or no business interruptions if unforeseen disruptions happen.  

Planning now saves 

Answering these five questions will build a strong foundation for a business continuity plan that ensures your business remains resilient in the face of adversity. It also might help you understand current gaps in business processes that can be improved now to lower risks and/or make recovery easier or speedier. 

Business continuity planning is one of the most important security measures for any business, so it’s important to not only have one but ensure that it is customised to your specific situation. 

VITG provides comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) solutions to deliver a tailored approach that ensures your business continuity plan matches your business needs. We work with you to build organisational resilience and make sure you’re equipped to recover from any IT disaster you may face. 

We’ve helped hundreds of Australian SMEs understand, build, and execute business continuity plans. We’ve also seen what happens when business continuity planning is not prioritised. 

Learn more about how we can support your business continuity planning here. 

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