In today's COVID-19 dominated world, business continuity and resilience have become essential for most business owners and for a good reason. We are living in unpredictable, unprecedented and ambiguous times with accelerated change. As business owners, we need to put in meticulous plans to avoid and overcome potential disasters which might be critical to our businesses sustainability.
With all that being said, it must be noted that affordability is also a critical issue for many small business owners. Therefore, all businesses have the responsibility of applying limited business continuity budgets in the best possible way.
Limited Business Continuity Budgets 101:
Since business continuity is essentially a governance, risk and compliance issue, King IV™ report is an invaluable guide.
"King IV™ is structured as a Report that includes a Code, with additional, separate sector supplements for SME's, NPO's, State-Owned Entities, Municipalities and Retirement Funds. The King Code™ contains both principles and recommended practices aimed at achieving governance outcomes."
Perhaps one of the most important concepts introduced within the report is proportionality, and the idea of aligning governance with a particular organisation's context is crucial. Simply put, Proportionality is fundamental in balancing a business's budgetary realities with the core goal in building a business's ability to cope with change and recover from disasters and pandemics.
Of course, this is particularly applicable in a world where the possibilities of threats are unpredictable. Thus proper planning for any risk could be beyond the resources of any organisation.
The King IV report's emphasis on proportionality forms part of its overall shift towards qualitative approaches, which in a nutshell, means going beyond ticking the box in encouraging boards and executives to apply their acumen to achieve desired goals. Therefore, all the recommendations found in King IV are meant to be scalable as per the size of a business's turnover, workforce, resources and the extent and complexities of its operations.
In alignment with this thinking, we also believe that it is of vital importance to realise that every business continuity plan should be unique, as each business is individual and comes with different requirements when compared to other companies in the same industry. That being said, smaller businesses with fewer resources will have a vastly different approach to larger, well-resourced companies which are strongly regulated.
Understanding what is vital to your business.
The starting point for any small business owner is always to spend sufficient time to identify your business's critical areas as per the minimum service levels, which are acceptable to your clients. By implementing this approach, along with a proper risk assessment and business impact analysis, you will have a guide to the development of your business continuity plan.
One vital consideration which is commonly overlooked by many business owners is the physical context in which their businesses operate. For instance, a business could be negatively impacted in the event of a strike or perhaps a fire which occurs at the premises of a nearby company, which is particularly true in an office business park scenario. On a more positive note, a small business might find some luck in piggy-backing on a landlord's business continuity provisions, such as security, backup power and water, if it's located in a well-run mall or business office park.
Another core consideration for businesses is data protection in relation to successful business continuity. However, courtesy of the many advances in technology, there exists a myriad of options available out there, to suit the needs of any business.
In a ever-connected digital world, with increasing cybercrime, a vital aspect in data protection is that backups have to segregate from the leading network, as hackers are commonly present on networks for notable periods before they are detected, which of course puts your business's backups at risk. It's due to the need for segregation, that tape backups of backups on separate devices are making a comeback in many businesses.
Proportionality plays a vital role in defining each business's approach to another significant consideration, this being an alternate site. For instance, organisations with call centres, commonly require an alternative site. However, a business with multiple call centres might be able to failover between them. In contrast, staff are likely to be able to work remotely from home more efficiently; however, there will always be back-office functions that require a common physical location. That is where outsourcing offers business owners a method of developing the correct mix of business continuity services for their particular needs.
When selecting which options available are best suited to your business's specific continuity needs, outsourcing has many benefits to offer. It provides access to industry experts with valuable experience who can aid in guiding you as you identify what your small business needs to do and how. Lastly, it also helps in cost-reduction by syndicating any fixed costs which relate to using alternate workspaces and data centres.