Disruption is something every business wants to avoid, but it’s a reality many face. A disruptive event is anything that causes downtime or data loss – it could be as serious as a natural disaster or as simple as an employee deleting an important document.
Most Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) leaders understand the importance of a business continuity strategy in keeping the organisation functioning should a disruptive event occur. Yet, it can be difficult to see the value of Business Continuity Planning (BCP) beyond this point.
Unless your business experiences a crisis of some kind, it might seem that there’s no true Return on Investment (ROI). So if your business is ticking along fine, and you perceive the chances of a disruptive event occurring to be minimal, then you probably won’t make BCP a priority. Perhaps you don’t have a strategy at all.
Not just an overhead cost
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to experience a disaster to yield a ROI from a business continuity strategy. Reason being, BCP forces you to take a closer look at the inner workings of your organisation.
As we explained in a previous blog, planning for business continuity involves identifying your company’s RTOs and RPOs – recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives. The purpose of setting RTOs is to know the maximum time that you can be without your data before your business gets into serious trouble, whilst RPOs tell you how much data you can afford to lose without damaging your business.
Not only does this determine which processes are essential to continuing business operations, but you’re likely to discover new opportunities for cost savings or even revenue generation.
Ways a business continuity plan can deliver an ROI include:
- Identifying smarter investments – Without a deep understanding of business processes and priorities, there is a tendency to protect everything. This results in over-specified business continuity capabilities, such as the need to have ‘real time’ recovery for everything. Thorough BCP will define your organisation’s ‘risk appetite’; that is, how much risk your organisation is able to tolerate, meaning you’ll invest more where it matters, and save money where it doesn’t.
- Increasing efficiency – A coordinated approach to business continuity can help identify areas of inefficiency and overlap. Just because something ‘has always been done this way’ doesn’t make it right. BCP enables you to identify where savings could be made as well as gaps in operations or plans that may not have been revealed otherwise.
- Eliminating departmental silos – BCP will identify critical interdependencies and open the lines of communication between functions. Since successful implementation of a business continuity strategy depends on people as much as it does processes, it also doubles as a team building exercise.
- Providing a competitive edge – Being able to maintain operations no matter what will prove to be a competitive advantage in sales negotiations as well as investments. Organisations that have actionable and effective business continuity plans in place are considered to be more trustworthy and reliable. This means you’re likely to win more business because your clients trust you to deliver a product or service on a consistent basis, regardless of any business disruptions.
- Reducing insurance costs – Most SMEs have insurance policies that cover common business disruptions. With a business continuity strategy, you reduce your risks and are therefore better placed to negotiate your premiums with your insurance provider.
The thinking that a business continuity strategy only offers value when something goes wrong means it’s not a priority for many SMEs with limited budgets.
But aside from the obvious value a business continuity strategy delivers – keeping your organisation running when disaster strikes – there are a number of indirect benefits. Neglecting business continuity planning means you’re missing out on multiple opportunities for a return on investment – regardless of whether you ever actually experience a disruptive event.
Business continuity programs should be seen as an asset to the business, not as an overhead expense. With a solid strategy in place, your business has an advantage over competitors who choose to go without. You can’t put a price on that.
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