How To Update Your Business Continuity Plan in 2022
As any BC professional will tell you, a company’s business continuity plan should not be static; it should be reviewed, tested, and optimized to ensure it is fit for purpose when a threat arises. In 2021, the continuation and unpredictability of COVID-19 and the emergence of more extreme weather events and supply chain issues highlight the importance of having a solid business continuity strategy and plan to mitigate business risk. Closing out 2021 and going into 2022, it’s crucial to reflect on how well your business prevented, responded to, and recovered from the prior year’s events and update plans accordingly.
The Importance of Updating Your Business Continuity Plan
Failing to update your business continuity plan is a bit like keeping an old fire escape route posted after renovating the building. It’s not relevant, and following it will likely result in poor outcomes.
The pandemic was a catalyst for many companies to invest time and resources into business continuity planning. According to The Future of Business Continuity & Resilience Report 2021, published by the Business Continuity Institute (BCI), seventy-nine percent of respondents stated that the appreciation of resilience rose in their organization due to the pandemic. Both high-level business leaders and team members were able to see the impact that a solid plan (or lack thereof) has on their organization.
Known threats evolve; new threats emerge
Threats are changing every day. A new cybersecurity risk will arise, or another Covid variant like Delta or Omicron will emerge. While it’s impossible to predict and plan for every change or eventuality, there are new trends that appeared in the past year that you’ll now need to consider. One example is the trend toward work-from-home/remote work. While many WFH policies were successful as a crisis management strategy, the BCI report states that ninety-four percent of respondents say that some, most, or all staff want to work from home for a proportion of time post-pandemic. This new trend will become standard for many organizations’ business operations. Still, it creates other risks to address around IT security and backup power and communications.
Updating your BC plan to protect your business
In the BCI’s Crisis Management Report 2021, survey findings report that thirty-three percent of organizations had a crisis plan before the pandemic that was ineffective in dealing with Covid. Of these respondents, three-quarters could create a new program or modify current plans to make them relevant to COVID-19.
Updating your plan will ensure that it is relevant to changing circumstances, allowing you to speed time to recovery, which can help your organization gain or maintain a competitive advantage or, at the very least, lessen the negative financial and operational impacts.
You’ll want to review how effective your previous plan was on macro and micro levels, thinking about both world events and risks specific to your industry or business. Some key questions to ask while updating your plan are:
- What is practical to keep in our business continuity plan?
- Is there anything that is no longer relevant?
- Is our plan too rigid or vague?
- Is the company using new technology or vendors? Have we completed our due diligence on their BC strategies?
- Did the company have significant changes to business processes or personnel?
- Have company goals or priorities changed?
While the momentum BC has gained in recent years is encouraging, the effort can’t stop just because the world is going into its third pandemic year. Enterprise business continuity plans must be forward-thinking to prepare for the next threat on the horizon.
How Frequently Should Your Business Continuity Plan Be Updated?
How frequently you update your BCP will depend on your industry and individual company purpose, operations, and risk profile. As a baseline, companies should review their plans for critical operations as needed or every six months and all other plans at least every year.
On top of completing regularly scheduled reviews, you’ll want to update your business continuity plan if any of the following occur:
- There are significant changes to the operations of your business. Examples include personnel/ownership changes, new vendors, new technology, changing operational processes/policies, etc. These are likely to come to light when completing a business impact analysis.
- A testing exercise highlights a gap in your business continuity management.
- Learnings from real-world experience.
Any time you update your plan, ensure you communicate changes and provide necessary training to appropriate stakeholders and key personnel. Improving awareness will increase the odds of proper execution.
Lessons Learned In 2021 To Incorporate Into Your 2022 Business Continuity Plans
Throughout 2021, several threats and trends emerged. These threats and shifts include the COVID-19 virus, work-from-home policies, supply chain management, and the immediate and lasting effects of extreme weather. You should consider keeping or adding these to your 2022 business continuity plan if they’re relevant to your business.
We’ve learned a lot about the COVID-19 virus and how to respond. However, the virus and the world’s handling of the pandemic will continue to evolve. It is likely that more variants, like Omicron, will emerge, which could once again affect the workplace, workforce, and supply chains despite a vaccine. Luckily, most organizations have learned from the last two years of the Covid crisis and will optimize those lessons in their 2022 BC strategy and apply certain concepts to other threats as well.
Working From Home Is Likely To Stay
Some form of remote work is the new norm for many organizations. In the 2021 BCI survey, over thirty-six percent of members state they plan to incorporate it as an option into their BC response. There are important considerations for your organization’s 2022 BC plan now that WFH is not temporary:
- Is your technology and disaster recovery plan resilient enough to prevent and respond to cybersecurity threats and data loss outside your office workplace?
- Does your BC plan include health and safety standards for homeworkers?
- Are staff well-being and mental health a part of your BC plan?
Supply Chain Resilience Is Key
Supply chains were heavily affected in 2021 due to weather, pandemic, and world economies. Remember the disruption that occurred when a container ship blocked the Suez Canal for six days, which cost an estimated $6-10 billion in global trade? Or what about the bottlenecks at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach caused by an increase in demand for imports, alongside labor shortages, workplace restrictions, and infrastructure challenges? As supply chains have the potential to generate staggering disruptions, you should ensure your manufacturers and distributors also have a business continuity plan. You might want to consider backup vendors and alternate material sources. We published an article on Supply Chain & Third-Party Vendor Resilience that shares best practices to add to your 2022 plan.
Crisis Management & Resilience for Extreme Weather
To say that weather events were unpredictable might be the understatement of the year. In 2021, businesses and their employees had to endure record extreme weather events that had both immediate and lasting consequences. Nearly every month in 2021 had an unanticipated weather event:
- Record cold temperatures and snowfall leading to the Texan Power Outage
- Heatwaves and drought leading to sprawling wildfires across the globe
- Summer flooding in Western Europe and central China
- Devastating hurricanes across the Southeastern United States
- Catastrophic tornadoes in the Midwest in December
In 2022, companies should ensure their supply chains and workplaces are ready to endure severe weather. As mentioned above, don’t forget to consider homeworkers when planning for weather resilience, especially if abandoning more traditional BC work area recovery sites in favor of WFH strategies.
How To Update Your BCP
If you don’t have a business continuity plan at all, this blog post on Business Continuity Planning Do’s and Don’ts is a good introduction.
Going into 2022, here are a few important reminders for updating your BCP:
- Perform a business impact analysis to gauge how threats to your business have changed since last year. Prioritize the most significant risks to your business for the upcoming plan timeframe
- Adopt a centralized or hybrid approach for a greater chance of success. Avoid bottlenecks and silos by getting rid of purely regional or departmental-based plans.
- Remember that people are typically an organization’s greatest asset. Use a people-first approach (burnout and lack of engagement are business risks).
- If you haven’t before, involve the board and senior management in the process to get buy-in, increase awareness of business continuity’s importance, and better develop a centralized approach.
- Focus on being agile and adaptive – your BCP should not be too rigid or vague.
- Include communications and PR strategies in your plan to respond quickly and manage your reputation.
- Ensure you have the right BC leaders in place to execute your business continuity plan and adapt if necessary.
Getting Your 2022 BC Plan Started
Prepare your business for whatever 2022 throws its way. Agility Planner is an excellent place to start if you need help preparing your business continuity plan for 2022. Our software solutions provide step-by-step guidance to build your plan and simple, actionable steps to execute. Schedule your free demo to learn how our business continuity planning solutions will streamline, simplify, and support your organization’s business continuity management.