What is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan refers to an organization’s system of procedures to restore critical business functions in the event of an unplanned disaster. Natural disasters, catastrophic system failure or cyberattack, unexpected natural or man-made events and other potential threats don’t have to cripple or end business processes. With business continuity and recovery strategies, organizations are able to resume business operations with minimal downtime, saving them resources in their response to what can often be a serious business interruption.

Well-prepared businesses can follow an informed disaster recovery plan and get back in operation quickly. Surveys show that many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) don’t survive major disruptions, but usually they have no recovery strategy in place. The process for creating an effective business continuity plan and disaster recovery strategy is well-known and time-tested.

SMBs in Asia-Pacific Are Especially Vulnerable to Natural Disaster

Based on United Nations data quoted by ReliefWeb, the Asia-Pacific region accounts for 70 percent of natural disasters around the globe. As ReliefWeb also notes, 90 percent of all businesses in the Asia-Pacific region are small or medium-sized and provide essential support for their local communities.

In many cases, these firms can be prepared to resume or continue business after a natural disaster or local event such as a fire or flood, keeping workers employed and supply chains operating using well-designed backup resources.

Starting Point: An Investment of Time for the Survival of the Business

Businessmen shaking hands - usiness continuity and recovery planningTime-pressed business owners and managers often don’t consider worst-case scenarios and the effect of a total disaster on their business. Small and medium-sized businesses can not only plan ahead and recover but continue their important role in the community.

With so many business leaders unaware of the well-tested strategies for business continuity and disaster recovery plan, here are the basic steps for any business to get prepared:

  1. Become informed about the risks that could disrupt business. Some are geographically based, like flooding. Others include fire or earthquake damage, criminal damage or theft, and extended power failure.
  2. Create a disaster recovery plan, with the aid of business continuity specialists and business partners, and document it in detail. Keep one copy in a specific place at work and at least one off-site. Improve the plan each time you review it, but create the first version as soon as possible.
  3. Make sure key personnel are familiar with the disaster recovery plan and know how to execute it. Business continuity planning process and recovery should be organized and logical as much as possible. Practice runs will catch anything that doesn’t quite work the way it’s written.
  4. Keep the plan updated on at least a semi-annual basis — otherwise, it could be of little use due to changes in the business and the way it operates. For example, are the phone and internet provider contact information up to date?
  5. Work with other local businesses to plan ahead and make preparations together where possible.

Disaster Planning and Japan’s 2011 Tsunami

In the article cited above, ReliefWeb, a UN-based humanitarian organization focused on disseminating disaster-related information, goes on to discuss the impact of a specific disaster in Japan. They note that in March 2011, the tsunami that impacted Japan resulted in extensive bankruptcies — 90 percent of small and medium-sized businesses surveyed — not only due to individual business failures but also disruption of supply chains and production. As interdependence of companies grows, effective business continuity and disaster recovery planning may become a condition of doing business, especially when contracting with multinationals.

Two people working in front of a laptop - Business continuity plan and disaster recovery plans

Government and NGO Guidance and Information

Many countries and NGOs can help businesses prepare for disasters. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has produced a guidebook on small and medium-sized business continuity planning that covers many of the practical aspects of preparation including business impact analysis. Specialist IT companies can help with the specifics of putting in place both plans and flexible IT systems that will make recovery a well-practiced and straightforward process.

Cooperation within the Local Business Community

Preparedness can be of mutual benefit for businesses. Leaders should raise awareness, share business continuity plans with other firms and work together to create resources like data backups, power generation and alternative phone systems. Every small and medium-sized company should know that knowledgeable planning and the right use of modern technology can help its business survive difficult times. Contact our team today to learn more about EIRE Systems and how it can benefit your business.