Business Continuity Risk - Coronavirus


Preparing your Business against the Coronavirus

The Covid-19 virus pandemic brings Business Continuity into sharp focus. Now is a perfect time to build and test the resilience of the Business Continuity Process for your organisation. There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic will have a long-term impact both on businesses and the economy, and amongst the uncertainty, businesses should do everything possible to mitigate the risk and ensure business continuity. With the unprecedented urgency to contain or eradicate the spread of the virus, protecting your staff, your most valuable asset, is vital. To this end, it may become necessary to temporarily require that the bulk of employees work from home. The purpose of Business Continuity Planning is ensuring uptime of the business in a time of disaster until regular business conditions are back in place. However, Business Continuity is complex and often gets overlooked or avoided. Moreover, a healthy Business Continuity Plan will consist of much more than simply sending staff home. There are multiple factors that need to be considered. Business Continuity Planning is to prepare for and limit the effects of an eventuality, by protecting and maintaining its core continuous operations. Taking a proactive approach to backups and security will help eliminate threats and ensure continuity and that is one area that often does get addressed, however, we have discovered that businesses are not quite ready to request that the majority of their staff work remotely, as there is often no structure in place to allow them to be fully productive.

Questions your business should be asking in the wake of the coronavirus:

  • What is the threat to my business and my employees?
  • How long can my business endure downtime?
  • Can my business survive the 14-day isolation period (of which remote working would be required)?
  • What can I do now to limit potential downtime?

Evaluate your Business risk

If your company has not got controls in place in order to limit downtime and mitigate potential financial loss, consider the following as preparation in the event of an emergency closure.

A Business Impact Analysis (BIA) is one of the first steps a company should consider. This is a systematic process to determine and evaluate the potential effects of an interruption to critical business operations as a result of a disaster, accident or emergency.
Businesses should undergo an assessment to identify critical functions and supporting assets that could be at risk from unscheduled downtime. Once a company has identified its business-critical assets, the next step is to ensure their availability and continued ability to run.

Having an Emergency Plan

In the event of your organisation having to close due to an emergency, there should be procedures and guidelines available to all staff to let them know what to do. Documentation such as an Incident Response Plan and a Business Continuity Plan should be available for all staff in the event of the organisation closing.

Your employees should know where these documents are located whether that be on a local file server or hosted in the cloud.

The first thing to consider is, does every employee have access to a laptop or home PC? If so, does each computer comply with the company’s network access policy? Does the device have a VPN set up in order to gain access to business applications and data remotely? And finally, how are you dealing with the security issues that arise with remote access ?
It is also highly advisable to consider moving critical files to cloud-based storage, such as SharePoint. This will allow access to these files from anywhere, and on any device without the need for complex VPNs.

To Conclude

Having a fool proof Business Continuity Plan in place will allow you to be prepared not only for the Coronavirus outbreak but every major risk factor that could potentially affect your organisation. A Business Continuity Plan should be able to address situations like load shedding, fire, physical invasions and the vast number of Cyber Security risks – which although seemingly less dangerous, could be just as disastrous for a company. Having contingencies in place could determine the difference between your business shutting its doors or flourishing. If you need assistance, or would like to investigate your preparedness in these challenging times please get in touch.

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