Ensuring Business Continuity: A Holistic Approach to Preparedness

Business continuity planning

Business continuity planning

You may have a solid consumer base, some innovative products, and a plan for growth. Each of these elements are likely to contribute to your long-term operational success. However, as confident as you may be in your company’s trajectory, occasional hurdles can arise that threaten to disrupt your progress.

Certainly, you should do what you can to prevent these issues from impacting your business at all — at the same time, it’s wise to accept that problems outside your control will inevitably occur and the best you can do is respond effectively. This is where continuity planning plays a significant role. By taking a holistic approach to establishing the protocols and tools your business needs in various circumstances, you can influence the way you navigate and overcome challenges. 

Let’s dive a little deeper into this concept. What are some of the common issues you might face and how can you establish relevant continuity planning?

Addressing Natural Disasters

Natural disasters are among the most disruptive events for businesses. There’s little you can do to prevent them from occurring. Therefore, the best way to safeguard is to create a robust natural disaster business continuity plan. This is a formal document that can help you overcome the hazards of a natural disaster, but you must build it at the earliest opportunity for it to be effective. Usually, this process is spearheaded by leadership. However, a truly holistic and relevant plan requires collaboration from experts from multiple departments and levels of seniority.

Gather a diverse team of staff and attend to the core components of a natural disaster continuity plan, including:

  • Research: The first step is to research likely natural disaster risks in your area. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maintains a risk map that provides details of the types of disasters that could occur in specific locations and their likelihood of arising. Your research should also include discussions with your staff about the types of disruption relevant disasters would be likely to cause. This helps you to better identify the appropriate actions to address these and continue operations.
  • Emergency resources: To continue functioning in the face of natural disaster, it’s likely that your team will require resources. Your plan should involve highlighting these and preparing access to them in advance. This isn’t just items such as backup power supplies and first aid kits. If a disaster means you can’t operate in your current premises, your plan should include arrangements for alternative locations to minimize disruption.

Remember that your continuity plan should go beyond the immediate response to the disaster. Your planning team should also establish step-by-step protocols for how you transition from emergency continuity to recovery.

Navigating Staff Shifts

Continuity isn’t all about natural disasters. One of the frequently overlooked causes of disruption businesses face is staffing issues. Your employees at all levels of your organization are the most valuable resources you have. Therefore, unexpected changes that you haven’t prepared for can derail your operations. You may find yourself without essential skill sets in specific technical positions or that your teams are adrift due to their leaders leaving.

This is why it’s vital to implement solid succession planning practices. Succession planning is about identifying the most suitable candidates for senior and specialist roles long before these positions have been vacated. Good actions here include:

  • Establishing the skills and values that are important for each role you’re planning for.
  • Hiring employees that have the qualities and experience to make them a potential candidate for succession in the future.
  • Creating visual documents that clearly outline the different technical skills and personal attributes each worker has. This gives leadership solid reference points when making succession decisions. 
  • Working with employees and human resources (HR) to make targeted development plans. These should build toward giving such workers the skills, experiences, and attributes needed to help them immediately thrive in the roles they may later succeed into. 

Continuity planning for this issue shouldn’t just be focused within the business. There may be times when it’s not practical to simply fill a role internally. Therefore, you should develop relationships with recruiters. Help them to understand the specific needs of your business. They may be invaluable in helping you fill staffing gaps that arise quickly and effectively.

Mitigating Cybercrime

Most businesses are incorporating more technology into their operations. In many cases, today’s business landscape is even reliant upon tech tools to function. Unfortunately, this also means that companies are particularly vulnerable to cybercriminals. Cybercrime can cause potential disruption on a variety of levels. There could be financial loss from both stolen funds and the costs of addressing issues. Productivity may suffer due to staff being locked out of systems by ransomware. Not to mention that your reputation might be derailed by consumer data leaks. 

Some of the components you should focus on when taking a holistic approach to continuity in the face of cybercrime include:

  • Employee training: How your employees navigate cybercrime is likely to be one of the most important continuity elements at your disposal. The faster and more effectively they can respond, the better likelihood there is of mitigating the damage. 

Train your workers to spot signs of threats. For instance, provide examples of phishing emails or highlight the unusual behavior that could indicate their devices are infected with malware. Importantly, give them clarity on what they need to do to limit the spread, such as disconnecting from networks and which key members of staff they should inform.

  • Alternative systems: Many cybercrime attacks disrupt operations by making it difficult, hazardous, or impractical for you to keep using your systems. Therefore, part of your continuity plan should include establishing alternative resources. 

Consider segmenting your networks not just to limit the harm an infection could cause, but also to enable employees to switch to alternative segments if their primary network is disrupted. Remember, too, to create backups of all systems so you can switch to these if you’re locked out of your main networks by ransomware.

Remember, though, that cybercrime threats are evolving all the time. Not only will criminals develop new methods, but also the new technology you occasionally adopt will have its own set of challenges. Be sure to work with cybersecurity experts to understand the current threats and establish the most appropriate responses that enable your business to keep functioning productively.


Holistic continuity planning empowers you to maintain operations in spite of potentially disruptive events. It’s vital to consider how everything from research measures to employee training can impact how effectively your company responds to and recovers from disasters. However, it’s important to remember that each company faces unique hazards, some of which we won’t have covered here. Therefore, you should take the time to examine your business’ individual risk profile and identify how multiple facets of your organization can work together to minimize potential disruption from each. 

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Article Author Details

Charlie Fletcher

Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer living in the pacific northwest who has a variety of interests including sociology, politics, business, education, health, and more.