Those business continuity plans you had in place, that were probably drafted some time ago, and might have taken a while to even dig out – how are they working out? Have things gone to plan or have you had to make it up as you go along?
For many firms, it will be the latter. And that’s simply because a BCP, when created, is a theoretical document and it is very hard to imagine some of those worst-case scenarios happening. And so the plan is created, usually at a high level, rarely with a lot of detail in it. And when the worst does happen, our instinct and business intuition kicks in instead, and is generally far more powerful than a document gathering dust somewhere.
I learnt this first-hand many years ago, when Para-Sols was a fledgling business, and I knocked over my computer tower, destroying the hard drive and losing EVERYTHING. And I mean everything. I had a BCP; I’d had to create one as part of my Business Plan for Business Link (remember them?!) but it was, frankly, flipping useless. Never had I imagined that in a split second I could be clumsy enough to wipe out my entire business, physically anyway.
But that’s the point of a BCP; to try and imagine the unimaginable, and prepare for it. This current crisis is a prime example; I doubt many firms had ‘global pandemic’ as a subheader in their BCP. However, they might have had “inability to access the office” as a header, and a process under that, which would have been put to the test last week.
So right now, in the immediate aftermath, is a great time to review your BCP, just as I did following The Great Computer Crisis of 2010. You should approach it thinking in those more general terms, that can apply to a wide range of situation: What if stock markets drop to a level that makes our recurring income unsustainable? What if, what if, what if? Now is also a great time to test those; to turn your BCP from something theoretical into something that allows you to sleep at night, because you know it is fully working.
Hopefully, everyone has muddled through and is broadly operational again. But, rest assured, this won’t be the last challenge or crisis that your business faces. So, while the pain is fresh in your mind, now is the time to channel that into enhancing how you’re working now, and protecting your business in the future. Some tips to consider:
- Review it immediately (even if it feels like the last thing you want to be doing – it’s the best possible time).
- Forecast your own cashflow and build in market crashes, just as you would with your clients.
- Review your Will; does it reflect your current wishes for your business? Have you considered succession planning, or made use of a Business Assets Trust?
- Use the Business Continuity Plan template provided by Apricity if you don’t already have one.
- Review it each year; things change pretty quickly anyway. After this crisis, I suspect the rate of change is going to go up a gear or two.