What if your business continuity planning (BCP) could actually reduce ongoing costs rather than be just an expensive insurance policy? The key to realizing ongoing value from your BCP, not to mention making a strong case for BCP investment, is to treat it as a means to achieve day-to-day resiliency regardless of whether you ever experience a disaster.
Traditionally, business continuity planning (BCP) has been viewed as a pure cost to the company – an insurance policy that only pays out if there is a disaster. In this context, it’s often a challenge to get funding and resources for BCP beyond the bare minimum necessary to satisfy regulations. More immediate concerns take priority.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are three examples of potential ROI from taking a day-to-day resiliency approach:
1. Prevent Lost Productivity
A common BCP strategy is to have staff work remotely if there is a major event at the primary location such as fire, chemical leak, or a police incident. However, organizations often fail to apply this BCP approach to “lesser” events such as commute delays due to road closures, bad weather, or transit disruptions. In the last few years even “snow days” have become more common again in northern regions.
The loss of productivity that stems from such minor disruptions is often accepted as unavoidable, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Instead, use your notification systems to alert staff of possible weather impact or traffic delays, and enable staff to work remotely and be productive rather than waste hours trying to commute in to your primary workplace.
A bit of caution: If part of your BCP strategy is for staff to work from home, the organization needs to be fully committed to this option – e.g., deploying laptops rather than desktop computers, and supporting secure remote access to key systems to enable a mobile workforce – or staff might as well just take the day off.
Rely on your BCP team to ensure there are no gaps in your support for a mobile workforce, and then leverage that capability any time events might impact productivity, not just when there is a major disaster.
2. Reduce Facility Costs
Organizations have an opportunity to reduce facility costs while improving business resilience by moving away from the static workplace model to a more dynamic approach. For example, reduce fixed office space to the minimum required (e.g., for staff who must be in a fixed location due to their role and responsibilities) and leverage a combination of vendor-managed business centers and work-from-home policies to accommodate overflow as needed.
If a major incident does occur at your primary facility, the business can more easily adjust to working from different locations since this is already ingrained in day-to-day business practices. Similarly, if the incident also affects one of your usual vendor-managed business centers, you can leverage your existing vendor relationship to identify an alternative location. In the meantime, your organization saves money on facility costs.
3. Minimize Resourcing Risks
It’s important that your BCP identify backup staff who can take over business continuity tasks during an event if the primary is not available. Similar to the work-from-home strategy, the organization needs to invest time in practices such as cross-training to ensure backup staff are capable of taking over in a crisis.
That investment in training backup staff as part of your BCP strategy also enables the organization to better manage day-to-day resourcing challenges from sick days, resignations, and vacations. This can also reduce the risk of being held hostage by the threat of resignation, and improve overall resourcing flexibility.
It’s much easier to get support from senior management for BCP practices such as identifying and training secondary staff when you can demonstrate a return on that investment outside of the disaster scenario.
From enabling a mobile workforce to training backup staff, incorporating business continuity practices in day-to-day business decisions greatly increases your chances of a successful recovery from a major event. These same practices can turn business continuity from a cost drain to a cost saver if you change your approach from a purely disaster recovery practice to ensuring day-to-day business resilience.
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