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Investing in a business continuity plan can be viewed as a kind of insurance into which a company sinks effort and time to assure business survival should disaster strike. However, this viewpoint is too limited. Insurance only pays off when something goes wrong. Otherwise, the premium payments are lost money. Business continuity planning, if done correctly, will increase your profits and business opportunities. It shouldn’t be seen as a cost, but as an investment. Here are two important ways this investment pays off:

It Improves Business Efficiency

Putting together an effective business continuity plan requires careful deconstruction of your business processes. You’ll be forced to assess and prioritize your processes and technologies with the idea that those given the highest priorities must continue to function in a disaster. When performing this analysis, you will spot ways to improve their performance. Why would this happen? Because your attention is directed in places never viewed before, and will likely reveal obvious improvements. You may find that some of the processes with the lowest priorities aren’t needed at all. Jettisoning them will eliminate unneeded business costs. You might also discover and eliminate duplicated processes.

It Creates More Business Opportunity

The 9/11 disaster taught many large businesses the importance of having robust supply chains. If a disaster paralyzes critical suppliers of a company, that company is also paralyzed. It takes time to find alternative suppliers, and business revenue is lost in the mean time. If you’re a small business, having a business continuity plan makes you look more viable as a reliable supplier to larger businesses.

Most fortune 500 companies require their vendors to have continuity plans. The same is true of the government. A business continuity plan allows you to bid for and win lucrative contracts with the government and the largest companies.

If you’re a SaaS business, your customers’ survival as businesses may depend on uninterrupted access to your software service. Without a business continuity plan in place, many potential customers will deem you as too great a risk to become dependent on your service. At least the customers of suppliers have an inventory to partially carry them through a supply chain disruption. However, if a disaster takes down your business, your customers will immediately feel the effect. A business continuity plan allows you to compete for the business of companies who would never have considered you viable before.

If you require assistance in implementing a business continuity plan or have questions, contact us at WHOA.com

The holiday season isn’t far off, and although consumers are looking forward to it, businesses are working hard to get ready. They’re stocking their inventories with what they hope are the right quantities of the right products. In addition, businesses will give their e-commerce websites a holiday theme and display the products that consumers will want to buy. If this describes your situation, you should also make sure your servers and application hosting are up to the task of handling the holiday rush.

Perhaps you have an elaborate e-commerce website that requires considerable bandwidth to load. Do your servers have the capacity to handle the peak holiday traffic? If not, your site will load too slowly for your impatient customers, who will move on rather than wait. In addition, your e-commerce applications that handle the transactions, as well as your ERP software that manages your inventory, does your book-keeping, and helps your warehouse staff fulfill the onslaught of orders will also take their bandwidth toll on your servers.

If holiday shopping constitutes a substantial part of your yearly profits, everything must work perfectly. You can’t afford to lose your online presence because of bandwidth problems. If you’re using application hosting, the holiday season isn’t the time to find out about their unreliable up-time or their unresponsive customer service. The true test of a hosting service’s customer service is how well they handle peak periods of customer usage such as the holiday season. Will they quickly respond to your inquiries? Or will they never get around to handling your difficulties because they’re swamped?

Of course, the customer service departments of the very best application hosting providers will have an easy time of it because their servers will handle the holiday bandwidth demand with ease, and few customers will call in. If this is the type of application hosting you want to use this holiday season, contact us at WHOA.com.

Unless you’ve experienced a disaster that threatened your business, it’s hard to appreciate the importance of a sound business continuity plan. All too often, people consider disasters as remote events, and don’t give business continuity the attention it deserves. Their thinking is further influenced by a number of misconceptions, or myths, that reinforce their decision to postpone or forego setting up a business continuity plan. Here are three business continuity myths:

There’s No ROI in a Continuity Plan Other Than Surviving a Remote Event

A disaster isn’t necessarily a remote occurrence because it can happen at any time, and business survival in the face of a disaster should be sufficient motivation in itself. However, there are other aspects to having a plan that can help your bottom line. A business recovery plan gives you leverage to negotiate a more favorable business insurance rate. Having a plan in place reduces the size of your insurance claim when disaster strikes. This makes you a lower risk to the insurance company and their rates should reflect this fact.

A business continuity plan also makes you a more reliable supplier for other businesses. You can guaranty you’ll deliver regardless of disruptions or disasters. Make this one of your selling points.

Small Businesses Aren’t at Risk

The same disruptions or disasters that affect large businesses also affect small businesses. One disaster many small businesses feel exempt from is a cyber attack. Why would a hacker target a small business when there are bigger fish out there? Hackers are often opportunists. When they detect a weakness, they’ll exploit it regardless of the size or success of their victims. In fact, small businesses tend to have weaker security in place, which makes them attractive targets.

If You Aren’t in a Natural Disaster Area, Business Continuity Isn’t Needed

A natural disaster isn’t the only type of disaster. A fire could destroy your place of business or a broken water main could flood and destroy your offices, records, and servers. Alternatively, a water main break could damage your foundation and cause a partial collapse of your building. A gas leak could also take down your building. A break-in followed by theft or vandalism can destroy critical business records and data.

If you have questions about why you need a business continuity plan or about how to implement one, don’t hesitate to contact us at WHOA.com.

How Business Continuity Plans Fail: A flawed business continuity plan that has little chance of holding up in a true disaster is just so many words. Its only effect is to provide the business with a false sense of security. Many of the shortcomings of these plans stem from using false assumptions.

For example, many business continuity plans failed in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Sandy because it was assumed that employees could work from home should a disaster occur, and that data stored in an alternate location would be accessible. However, widespread power outages and flooding prevented employees from accessing the Internet. In addition, many employees were dealing with more basic survival issues such as access to shelter and clean water. If there is one lesson to be learned from this is that business continuity plans require the input of business continuity experts.

Here are four common business continuity mistakes to avoid:

Working off of Business Continuity Templates Without Planning

Business continuity templates are freely available over the Internet. Working with these too quickly without thinking through how they apply to your unique situation will generate a plan without doing any actual planning on your part. More likely than not, it will have fatal flaws.

False Assumptions

Should a disaster occur in your area, will basic utilities such as electricity and water be available? Will the transportation infrastructure be usable? The answers to these and other questions will depend on your particular locality. Different regions contend with different types of natural disasters. For example, an area in the heartland of the U.S. need not plan for the effects of hurricanes.

Be careful about assumptions regarding which of your key employees will be available during a disaster.

Incomplete List of Threats

Failing to identify all likely threats to your organization results in a partial plan. Your plan should include likely natural disasters, online and offline security threats, and damage caused by disgruntled employees.

Plan Not Readily Available

A business continuity plan that resides in the cloud isn’t available if there’s no Internet access. If it resides in the heads of a few key people, then it isn’t available if these people are on vacation or trapped in their homes with no means of communicating with the outside world. Your plan should be well-documented and available to those who will implement it should the need arise.

The above mistakes are by no means a complete listing. To ensure that your plan will perform well when it’s needed, consult with business continuity experts. For more information, contact us today.

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