Business continuity and business resilience – a look at key personnel!

In most businesses a business continuity plan looks at major catastrophes and disasters.   These areas are critical for a business but the chances of it happening could be relatively remote.   The other areas of a good business continuity plan are to also look at scenarios that could happen and which could have serious repercussions on any size business.

Key personnel are critical for any business, they can be the CEO, the most prolific of sales people, your best technical support person or it could be you, the driving force of the business,   How do you catagorise your key personnel and what do YOU need to put in place to protect the business.    Insurance for loss of business expertise is hard to find and very expensive, especially on the off chance that something might happen, so what are the best ways to protect YOUR business?

For a small or medium business or not for profit organisation problems arise from situations that you have little control over.   Large problems like a disaster ( flood, fire) or a problem with technology ( hard drive failure or connectivity problems) should be included in your business continuity plan (BC).    Are the key personnel of your organisation included?

So lets look at What happens if the CEO has a stroke, your best sales person breaks their leg, your senior marketing officer wins the lottery or as an micro business, something happens to your significant other and you can no longer deliver your products.

These are all problems that are more likely to happen than the earthquake, a flood or a fire.

For each of these scenarios your organisation needs to have plans, processes, procedures and policies in place to reduce the amount of time that the loss is effecting your organisation.  How do you plan for such an event?

The CEO of an organisation is usually the front for the business.   They are the one with all of the contacts, they are doing the high level sales and they are driving the business in the required direction.    What happens to the organisation if something happens to them?   The loss of the CEO could have repercussions on the share price, your business direction and the businesses capability to bring new money and ideas into the organisation.  If an organisations CEO has a stroke and is off work for a couple of months what are the contingency plans?

Have you put in place a cessation plan?    Do you have procedures in place to cover the incapacitation of the CEO and other critical senior personnel.   Do the staff and business have the capacity to step up to the problems and cover for the sudden changes in the business capability.   The culture and resilience of the business will dictate the outcome of the loss of senior management.

Your sales team are critical to your business.    The loss of your senior sales person can have sever repercussions on your revenue as well as your profits.   Could they still carry on with normal sales calls as well as the every day face to face sales that your business relies on?

Does your BC plan include these contingencies?   Who will step up and cover the loss, what procedures do you have in place?    For this problem your business needs to have the ability to bring the next member through to replace them.   Does the business incorporate a training system, can you get a temporary replacement from somewhere, and if so how are you going to protect the business from problems that that will bring.

This is my favourite, the problem use to be what happens if a senior person gets hit by a bus, pretty morbid don’t you think, so we changed it to what would happen if they won the lottery.   Sudden change would happen, don’t know about you but I wouldn’t be in to work the next day, would you?   So senior person X has won the lottery, they are $2,000,000 richer and will not be in today or for the rest of the year.   How does the business recover?

No matter what the situation the sudden loss of a critical person in your organisation will have severe, detrimental and catastrophic repercussions on the business unless handled correctly.   Again the organisation need to have the required processes, policies and procedures in place to mitigate the risk of this happening.

The final problem if for the one person band, if something happens to them or someone they are close to how does the business survive?    Most small businesses do not think about not being able to work.   The simplest broken arm to the most complicated illness on the planet will have sever detrimental effects on the small business.   Even something as normal as a severe cold or flu can incapacitate them and slow everything down for a week.   What happens if it goes longer?

A small business relies on the principle doing a majority of the work.   They are the driving force behind the business.    They may already have outsourced some of their business components – marketing and accounting / bookkeeping are normally where they start.   What about product delivery, sales and ordering, stock management and any of the hundreds of little things that are in the brain of the owner.   These things are critical to the well being of the small business, how do we protect them.

This is normally where you have to sit down and think the whole process through.    Part of the BC plan and also a part of the Business Plan.   You have to organise your business in such a way that it practically runs itself.   You have to put technology in place that does all the major components of your business as well as making sure that you can do the managerial component with minimal involvement.

Today’s business world is littered with the bodies of businesses who did not think ahead or even envisage any of the problems associated with being out of commission for more than 2 weeks.   An extended illness for either you or a close member of your family will have serious repercussions on your business.

This is where a well thought out BC plan will benefit you, it means that you have thought through the problems and have put solutions in place.   It also means that when you are back on deck that you can pick up the pieces relatively easily and you have not lost your business.

Roger Smith, is an educator. Teaching students at ADFA (UNSW) and showing them how vulnerable they are to cybercrime.

He is also CEO at R & I ICT Consulting Services Pty Ltd, an Amazon #1 author on Cybercrime and founder of the SME Security Framework. He is a Consultant who specialises in inexpensive and highly effective security strategies for small and medium businesses and not for profit organisations.

He has developed and authored the SME Security Framework and the Security Policy Training Course which are considered to be the definitive guides to helping SME's protect their organisation using the principles of Technology, Management, Adaptability and Compliance.