What Should Be Included in a Business Continuity Plan?

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The goal of any business is to maintain profitability and continue operations. If your business is closed, your customers won’t be able to buy your products or services, you won’t be able to support your customers, and your customer experience will suffer.

Business closures can impact productivity more than any other issue your business might face: after all, if your business isn’t running at all, no work is getting done. Providing the flexibility to work from anywhere with business communication services to support employees in the face of any disaster can keep your business up and going.

In order to keep your company’s productivity as high as possible, your business should be ready for anything. Your business continuity, or how consistently your business stays open, is very important when it comes to keeping your productivity up and your clients satisfied.

What Can Affect Your Business Operations?

Your business should be able to run smoothly in any kind of circumstance and without special effort from you or a specific executive. That means having the right systems in place to ensure continued operations. Not having a plan in place can put your business continuity in jeopardy for a variety of reasons.

Hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires can force your employees out of the workplace for any amount of time and can lead to a disruption in your business if a plan, systems and procedures aren’t in place. The threat of a natural disaster can prevent your employees from making the commute to the workplace. It could also knock out your on-site infrastructure. Other obstacles to good business continuity are global epidemics, as well as targeted cyber-attacks against your business. Any one of these events can put your business out of commission for days or even weeks, which is bad news for your bottom line.

How Can a Business Continuity Plan Help Your Business?

The best way to make sure your business remains operational is to invest in a business continuity plan. In the modern marketplace, businesses are expected to be able to help their customers at nearly any time. Even short business closures can significantly impact your bottom line and reputation.

A business continuity plan or disaster recovery plan, is a strategy that your company can fall back on when the unexpected happens. Whether it’s a natural disaster, or a major global event such as a national health emergency, the best thing your business can do in any event is keep running.

The question is, how can your business keep operational?

In the case of a national health crisis, your employees may not be able to come into the workplace. Natural disasters can damage roadways and force public transit to close. These are the issues that disaster recovery plans seek to resolve.

A business continuity plan takes advantage of modern technology to build a remote access network for your business. This allows your employees to work remotely no matter what might get in the way of them being able to physically come into the workplace.

But how do you do it right, and what mistakes should you avoid?

Common Mistakes Companies Make with Business Contingency Planning

When it comes to managing your operation’s continuity plan, it isn’t as straightforward as you might think. From planning to implementation, everything about the plan may cause problems if you don’t execute it correctly. Here are a few common mistakes you should be on the lookout for:

  • Addressing unlikely risks. If your business isn’t located in an area that is typically affected by natural disasters, it probably isn’t worth it to put too much effort into planning around them. You should look into issues that have a fairly good chance of affecting your business instead.
  • Relying too much on the plan. While a business continuity plan is a good backup strategy, it necessarily holds many redundancies to ensure your business can keep running. This means it’s probably more efficient to let your business run as normal in general, and only fall back to the plan when necessary.
  • Having one keystone employee. When it comes to your business, you should avoid putting a lot of weight on one person. Especially for your company’s backup plan, there should be multiple people who can cover for each other in case one or more isn’t available.
  • Failing to keep your plan up to date. A business continuity plan must grow with your business to be effective. You should check in on your plan once per quarter to make sure it still covers all the key components for your business.

Blocking incoming calls. During times when unexpected events occur, your business may need additional call capacity in order to handle a surge in customer calls. If your business utilizes SIP Trunking to carry phone connections over the Internet, “burstable” SIP Trunking is a good option to manage spikes in call demand, maintain your operational efficiency and drive customer satisfaction. Bursting allows you to receive additional concurrent calls even though you may not have paid for enough paths to receive them.

  • Downplaying the need for mobility. Disruptions to your daily operations can happen quite suddenly and you risk undesirable consequences such as damaged reputation, lost productivity and revenue if you don’t have a plan to manage your communications from anywhere. Mobility has become a core part of almost every business and with the right continuity plan, your mobility assets can act as a back-up when an unplanned disruption occurs. You’ll need reliable communication channels and access to business critical information to keep your team operational, putting your customers at ease during an emergency or crisis.
  • Executing the plan poorly. Even the best plan will fail if it isn’t executed properly. Make sure all of your employees are well-informed about your business continuity plan to avoid problems with it later. You should include your plan in your employees’ orientation. Running a drill to test your plan can make sure your systems are ready and allow you to make adjustments.

Create a Clear Plan to Effectively Manage Remote Workers

Managing a remote team has many great benefits, like attracting top talent around the globe and saving significantly on real estate and other office expenses. Allowing remote work can also keep your business running in case of a natural disaster, health crisis or other catastrophes. If you want to be successful in managing a remote team, there are several tips to consider so your company’s productivity doesn’t miss a beat.

  • Prepare your team to be successful by hiring the right people and training them well.
  • Make sure employees have the tools, access and documents they need to work outside the office.
  • Encourage employees to treat the workday as if they’re in the office and establish a dedicated workspace free from distractions.
  • Check-in frequently to support and encourage a cohesive team and individual accountability. Holding team and 1-1 meetings consistently as well as communicating daily via messaging, video conferencing, email and voice make it easy to stay in touch and on top of deliverables.
  • Prevent a remote employee’s sense of loneliness and isolation through building rapport with each individual on your team, being responsive, engaging regularly, making remote workers inclusive to the organization, and being intentional with establishing an atmosphere of engagement and genuine connection.
  • Clearly communicate and focus on team and individual goals versus activity. Define accountability and output expectations and then prioritize daily and weekly deliverables with employees.
  • Be aware of managing deadlines and group meetings within business hours across different time zones where remote workers are located.
  • Build community through the use of technology and invest in reliable tools to make collaboration possible.

Unified Communications: A Key Business Continuity Feature

The most effective business continuity plans include a unified communications service. This feature streamlines communications between employees to keep a company as efficient as possible.

Unified communications combines your business’s calling, audio conferencing, video conferencing, desktop sharing, file sharing, presence, messaging and other communications methods. By giving your employees access to all of their business communications from one source, unified communications is a good way to improve efficiency in the workplace.

When your employees aren’t able to work in the office, they can easily transition to working from home or a local coffee shop — making calls from their work phone number or communicating with colleagues over instant messaging as if it were a normal workday.

Unified communications put all of these key business features or apps into one easily accessible location for your employees, no matter where they are.

Common Features of a Business Continuity Plan

Most business contingency plans have a number of other features that are designed to keep your business running in the face of any unexpected event.

Whether it’s a natural disaster or cybercrime, with the help of a business continuity plan your business should be able to handle anything that gets in its way. Here are a few features you can expect to include:

  • Unified Communications. As we already mentioned, unified communications is key to an efficient workplace both in terms of business continuity and for general productivity. With a unified communications service set up for your business, your employees will be able to access all of their communications, including instant messages, calls and video communications from anywhere and at any time.
  • Remote Access. Unified communications also allow employees to access your business network from any mobile device, making it the perfect way to improve efficiency both inside and outside of the workplace.
  • Reliable Customer Support. Companies with call centers need to be available at all times to troubleshoot customer problems, provide ongoing support, and other customer-facing services. You may need to prepare your phone service to handle greater call volumes, increase call center queues or allocate more staff to support customers.
  • Cyber-Protection. Cyber-attacks on businesses are getting more common every day. It’s imperative that your business has a way to protect itself from cyber-attacks, whether they steal data or overload your servers.
  • Cloud Data Backups. In the event that your company’s servers go down, you want your employees to be able to access your business’s data remotely. Cloud data backups ensure your data is kept safe and accessible no matter what happens to your business’s physical location.
  • Redundancies Against Human Error. Oftentimes, major outages are caused not by an external event, but by human error. If your business’s systems are set up in the wrong way, a simple mistake by an employee can cause massive damage. Part of a business continuity package is to help instill redundancies in your business to prevent this from happening.

Create a Customized Business Continuity Plan with Inteliquent

In the long run, a business continuity plan saves your business a lot of time and money. If you don’t have a plan for disaster recovery in place for your company, we recommend you look into investing in one.

Every business has unique aspects, and this is especially true when it comes to planning for disaster recovery and business continuity. Depending on how your company’s network and workplace is set up, different features will be more or less necessary for keeping your business at its best — from the simplest of forwarding calls, or quickly adjusting your call handling capacity, to more advanced needs of adjusting call queues.

Inteliquent offers access to industry-leading tools that are staples in business continuity plans throughout the world. We’re here to assist you during times when the unplanned happens and your disaster recovery plan needs to kick into high gear to maintain your company’s productivity. Our team is ready to step in with solutions that will quickly increase your concurrent call capacity (elastic SIP Trunking) over and above your current call paths and/or enable mobility when your employees need to unexpectedly work remotely.

Our mission is to provide you with the tools you need to keep your business running, no matter what gets in the way. If you want to learn more about incorporating unified communications into your business continuity plan, we’re here to help.