Covid-19 wasn’t a scenario many businesses would have rehearsed for. Many companies’ business continuity plans (BCP) – particularly those requiring flawless uptime and information security – involved moving to another physical office.
Until this crisis, it was barely conceivable that the majority of organisations, aside perhaps from those with key workers, would be forced to operate from their employees’ homes. Even for companies where employees could work from home in some capacity, few were prepared for the shift towards the entire workforce consistently and, for some, indefinitely, working remotely.
Taking flexibility, agility, and scalability into account
Research from workplace consultancy Leesman revealed the UK was one of the least prepared countries to deal with a mass home-working strategy. Many have now adjusted to the situation in one way or another, though this experience has taught us a lot about the importance of having systems and processes that are flexible across every area of the business. Indeed, when it comes to IT infrastructure, many teams are guilty of only preparing for scalability in line with predictable business or seasonal fluctuations, like Black Friday in retail.
But scalability needs to be top of the agenda across every area of a business, with infrastructure in place that affords adaptability for unexpected events, to support the subsequent changes in both customer and employee behaviours. Ultimately, businesses need to continue building the resilience, flexibility, and scalability into their infrastructure, that will allow them to adapt quickly in line with the changing demands of both their internal and external stakeholders. In turn, by building the infrastructure and muscle memory for change, they'll be prepared for future unexpected events.
So, how can this be affectively achieved across the business?
Measuring the success of your BCP
There are multiple factors involved when deploying a business continuity strategy, and similarly to any project or deliverable, there are also various factors to consider when measuring its success. This can depend on which sector the business operates in, its goals, and, perhaps most importantly, what its customers’ expectations are. However, while this is all still relevant now, the pandemic has caused a new key question to emerge for any business leader to ask when looking at an organisation’s BCP – will this work in a real-life crisis?
The answer to this question lies in a company’s agility. In a constant state of turmoil, whether it’s Brexit, the digital revolution, or the pandemic, the success of BCPs is now measured on their ability to quickly adapt to the changing requirements. As a result, organisations are finding they may have to shift their operations beyond recognition. A company’s agility underpins how they continue operating services virtually, have their entire workforce working remotely, while maintaining the security of information, processes, and systems.
Business and IT leaders need to reassess the role of cloud
When we emerge from these current difficult times, it will be important for business and IT leaders alike to reassess their BCP and the role that cloud has in it, because turbulent times like these will inevitably strike again, and businesses need to be prepared for round two.
From introducing and scaling applications, to increasing the capacity of online services as buying patterns shift, the agility that has been critical to companies’ ability to scale and survive has been underpinned by the cloud.
This was already recognised in some industries: for example, the Financial Conduct Authority already recommends that financial services firms should be using multicloud to ensure continuous uptime. BCPs must evolve to recognise that agility is the key to business continuity – and that cloud is the tool they can use to execute a successful delivery.
Many organisations have had BCP exercises in place for years, and although it’s difficult to be fully prepared for a situation as unique as this, it is clear that the organisations that have been able to react quickly to help their customers face the challenges posed by Covid-19 will have set themselves apart from their competitors.
Business leaders should take this as an opportunity to identify any gaps they have in their plans, and make sure they are plugged by ensuring they have the right infrastructure in place to support their employees and customers.