Small businesses often have a harder time advancing their business continuity plans because they have less resources to work with, fewer employees and small budgets. However, there are ways to work around these issues and maximize continuity of operations planning to cover every potential crisis and ensure standard workflow needs are met in any disaster.
When developing a business continuity plan for smaller companies, there are five primary steps that have to be taken first. These steps aren't dissimilar to the disaster recovery efforts that larger enterprises have to undertake, but are more focused to the unique needs of a small business to optimize for cost, rather than create a overwhelming comprehensive strategy for recovery.
- Establish risk analysis – The first thing small businesses need to do when preparing continuity planning is to consider the risk they actually face. Larger companies have to consider a broader scope of crises, but smaller firms will be able to narrow their focus and prepare for the challenges that are local. An earthquake 3,000 miles away is less likely to affect the operations of a small business than a large company, so optimizing for local disaster risks is important.
- Optimize business priorities – Every company has different priorities, especially in a crisis. If nearly 100 percent of a company's profits lie with its customers, focusing on customer service as a critical part of continuity of operations is key. On the other hand, if a firm's data is it's No. 1 priority, it needs to make data recovery and storage the central part of its disaster preparedness strategy. Don't let trends and other advice influence your plan, consider what is important to the business itself.
- Systems analysis – Once risks and priorities have been established, a company can focus on its internal systems and figure out what it needs to return to normal operations as swiftly as possible. Business impact analysis will provide a clear assessment of where the greatest challenges lie, firms simply need to work from there to put safeguards in place that will help minimize risk and expedite recovery processes.
- Start now – Don't delay upgrades and changes, start making the necessary improvements to ensure business continuity for the most prevalent risks immediately and work from there. Companies that hesitate to put their recovery strategy into place often find that they act too late.
- Continue to updates it – It is even more important to regularly update the continuity of operations plan for small businesses as it is for larger ones. Small firms often find a technology upgrade or investment makes bigger ripples, and the resulting impact could drastically change recovery needs.
Any firm looking to optimize its continuity strategy should invest in consulting to minimize risk and maintain a strong preparedness strategy over time.