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Blog > What is Business Continuity Risk?

What is Business Continuity Risk?

VComply Editorial Team
March 11, 2024
7 minutes

In today’s ever-evolving business landscape, companies face a myriad of risks that can disrupt their operations and threaten their very existence. Among these, “Business Continuity Risk” looms as a potential disruptor that demands vigilant attention. Business continuity risk refers to threats or risks that disrupt the functioning of a business. These threats maybe any untoward incidents or disasters that negatively impact an organization.

Several business continuity risks make organizations suffer, such as cyber-attacks, data breaches, security incidents, fire, flood, transport disruption, and terrorism.

Perhaps the best example of business continuity risk is the effect of the Covid 19 pandemic on businesses all over the world. As shops and organizations closed down indefinitely and consumers were forced to shelter in place during lockdowns, businesses faced huge losses. A record number of people were laid off, as companies struggled to make payroll or pay rent.

For essential services that were allowed to continue such as health workers and food supply managers, it became a matter of huge concern to protect their health and wellbeing. To ensure complete safety of workers, organizations were required to provide them with PPE lists, hand sanitizers, masks, and strictly observe social distancing measures.

A business continuity plan helps to mitigate such unforeseen risks, and ensure smooth and efficient functioning of the organization.

Types of Business Continuity Risks

Let’s take a look at five business continuity risks that a firm must monitor and control:

1. Cyberattacks

Cybersecurity attacks area major source of concern for businesses. Network and system damage by hackers not only damages a firm’s reputation but can also cause monetary damage.

For example, Software AG, a German tech firm, was attacked by Clop ransomware in October 2020. The cyber-criminal gang demanded more than $20 million ransom. The attack disrupted parts of their internal network.

2.  Data breaches

Data breaching refers to releasing or revealing important, private and sensitive information to an untrusted person or environment. In the first half of 2020, there were 540 reported data breaches in the U.S.

Some examples of data breaching include loss of USB drives, mobile or computer devices, laptops, and computer networks. Such breaches can put sensitive information regarding the firm and it’s customers in the hands of unscrupulous people and cause severe damages to the business.

3.  Terrorism

When terrorism strikes a country or city, it instill a sense of fear and uncertainty in it’s residents and the public at large. Employees and organization security forces might be ill-equipped to handle attacks of terrorism. Property damage and business interruption are the most obvious impacts of terrorism.

Further, even after a terror attack, tourism and day-to-day life in a country remains affected. It takes a few months for businesses to resume their operations as usual.

types of business continuity risks
Types of Business Continuity Risk

4. Fire

Fires generally take place suddenly, without any warning  signs. They often occur due to faulty firm equipment or misuse of organizational tools and instruments.

Keeping a fire control plan involving fire brigades, fire alarms and fire extinguishers as a precautionary measure to control fires, is quintessential for businesses of all kinds.

5. Supply Chain Disruptions

Disruption in supply chains is also a big concern for organizations. Supply chains that operate on a global scale face various risks, such as transportation delays, supplier failures, natural disasters, and geopolitical events. These risks can cause disruptions in the supply chain, resulting in product shortages, production delays, and financial losses. To manage and mitigate these risks, organizations should consider diversifying their supplier base, cultivating strong relationships with key suppliers, and establishing effective communication channels.

business continuity risk-cta

6. Natural Disasters

Natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, storms, often lead to such disruption. The loss of life, displacement, loss of equipment and communication, damaged builds can all have catastrophic impact on businesses. One of the major concerns for business in time of disasters are how to connect with and serve their customers. The disruption in supply network can weaken and as a result, the supply network between companies and suppliers weakens and the supply chain suffers

7. Health Emergencies and Pandemics

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of organizational preparedness for health emergencies. Infectious diseases, public health crises, and widespread employee absences can significantly disrupt operations and pose risks to business continuity. In this blog post, we will explore the significance of developing comprehensive pandemic response plans, including remote work capabilities, flexible staffing arrangements, and robust health and safety protocols, to safeguard business continuity in the face of such challenges.

8. Regulatory Compliance and Legal Issues

Non-compliance with legal and regulatory requirements can lead to substantial financial penalties, reputational harm, and operational disruptions. Businesses, particularly those in heavily regulated industries, face challenges due to evolving laws, regulations, and industry standards. To mitigate risks, organizations must stay updated on regulatory changes, maintain comprehensive documentation, and establish robust mechanisms to ensure compliance.

4 Major Risks of Not Having A Business Continuity Plan

Not having a business continuity plan might be more dangerous for a business than you think.

Here are four major risks of not having a well-defined plan to handle business continuity disruptions:

1. Death and Injury

When organizations suffer from natural disasters and other threatening events, it leads to loss of life and brutal injuries to workers, clients, and other individuals associated with the business.

This can be prevented by keeping premises under regular inspection, maintaining tools and equipment, and posting warning signs, if combustible or dangerous equipment is being used.

2. Business Failure

Disasters and unexpected incidents also affect and damage business property and goods. After suffering such damage, organizations are generally unable to recover.

For example, due to Covid 19, more than 100,000 restaurants have permanently closed this year, according to the National Restaurant Association. Business continuity plans provide better alternatives for businesses to survive even after a disaster.

3. Reputational Risk

Disasters also affect a company’s reputation in a negative way. People’s lose trust in a company and start to view it with a healthy dose of scepticism.

For example, a fire may damage a firm’s internal property as well as injure people, which might make the public think the firm is not secure and doesn’t take necessary precautions to safeguard it’s personnel and premises. This might discourage future clients and employees from associating with them.

Likewise, a firm’s reputation can also be damaged by data breaches. People’s trust towards a firm decreases due to the spread of sensitive data.

4. Loss of data

Loss of essential data not only disrupts business activities but also puts the company’s future in jeopardy. Loss of data can have severe implications for business continuity. Data is a critical asset that drives decision-making, operations, and customer interactions. Without proper backup and recovery measures, organizations risk losing valuable information due to hardware failures, cyberattacks, or human error. Such data loss can disrupt business operations, hinder productivity, and lead to financial losses. Moreover, the inability to access vital data can impair decision-making and customer service, eroding trust and damaging the organization’s reputation. To ensure business continuity, organizations must implement robust data backup, recovery, and cybersecurity measures to protect against data loss and maintain uninterrupted operations.

5. Regulatory Non-Compliance

Various industries are subject to specific regulations and legal requirements related to risk management, data protection, and business continuity. Neglecting a business continuity plan can result in non-compliance with these obligations. The failure to meet regulatory standards may lead to severe penalties, legal repercussions, and potential lawsuits. Additionally, non-compliance can further strain the organization’s financial stability and reputation, causing lasting damage.

6. Competitive Disadvantage

Organizations that lack a business continuity plan may struggle to keep pace with competitors who have invested in comprehensive continuity strategies. Insufficient preparedness limits an organization’s ability to swiftly recover from disruptions, resume operations promptly, and maintain customer satisfaction. This puts the organization at a distinct disadvantage in terms of market share, customer loyalty, and overall competitiveness. Customers and clients often prioritize reliability and uninterrupted service, making preparedness a crucial factor for success.

7. Stakeholder Confidence Erosion

Key stakeholders, including investors, business partners, and suppliers, place significant emphasis on an organization’s ability to effectively manage risks. The absence of a business continuity plan raises doubts about the organization’s commitment to preparedness and resilience. Stakeholders may experience reduced confidence, which can lead to strained business relationships, challenges in securing financing, and difficulties attracting strategic partnerships. Ensuring stakeholder confidence is vital for maintaining a strong reputation and fostering long-term growth.

Managing Business Continuity Risk:

Effective management of Business Continuity Risk involves several key steps:

Risk Assessment: Begin by identifying potential risks and assessing their potential impact on your operations. Prioritize risks based on their likelihood and severity.

Business Continuity Planning: Develop comprehensive continuity plans that outline how your organization will respond to disruptions. These plans should include strategies for IT recovery, crisis communication, and resource allocation.

Testing and Training: Regularly test your continuity plans through simulations and drills. Ensure that your employees are well-trained in executing these plans in the event of a disruption.

Regular Review and Updates: Continuously monitor and update your Business Continuity Plans to adapt to changing circumstances, emerging threats, and organizational changes.

Insurance and Financial Preparedness: Consider investing in insurance policies that cover business interruptions. Maintain financial reserves to help your organization weather financial challenges during disruptions.

Maintain effective communication channels: Establish robust communication channels to facilitate timely and accurate information dissemination during disruptions. This includes internal communication systems, contact lists, and emergency notification procedures.

Monitor and Stay Informed: Continuously monitor internal and external factors that may impact business continuity. Stay updated on emerging risks, regulatory changes, and industry trends to adapt your strategies accordingly.

Mitigate Business Continuity Risk: 4 Steps to Create a Business Continuity Plan

To develop resilience as a business and future-proof it’s functioning against unexpected disasters and events, businesses must prepare a business continuity plan.

What is a business continuity plan?

A business continuity plan is a critical document that outlines how a business will overcome unplanned disruptions and continue critical operations. Create a detailed plan that identifies potential risks, outlines response strategies, and assigns responsibilities. The plan should include procedures for various scenarios, such as natural disasters, cyberattacks, or supply chain disruptions.

Here’s a four-step guide to develop a business continuity plan and mitigate business continuity risk:

4 steps to create business continuity plan
Four Steps to Create Business Continuity Plan

1. Scope and Teamwork

The first step involves putting together a team for implementing a business continuity plan. This step should also establish management buy-in and commitment to the BCP process.

The firm must clearly explain the key reasons for having a BCP, namely, to protect employees, suppliers, and customers as well as the business operations themselves.

2. Business Impact Analysis

Business impact analysis helps determine the potential impacts of a disruption to critical business operations. The BIA can be facilitated by asking the following questions:

  • Which activities are critical to the core operations of the business?
  • What resources need to be obtained to resume these prioritized activities? This includes both internal and external resources such as vehicles, inventory, human resources, and electricity supply.
  • What is the maximum period of time for which a business might be able to withstand temporary disruption? This identifies the time frame for the prioritized activities to be resumed.

Post this, a firm should assess external risks which may affect a business. This helps establish the types of disasters which an enterprise may face.

It’s essential to account for all possible disasters a business might face, be it natural, data-based, corporations-based. To get a more accurate assessment, firms should also look at past events and disasters that similar businesses may have faced.

3. Develop Strategies

Information gathered from the business impact analysis should be utilized to develop strategies which help an enterprise tackle an emergency and resume operations efficiently.

Strategies must include different types of plans to figure out how the enterprise will function during the time of emergency. Some basic questions your strategy might answer include:

  1. How will customers contact the organization during that time?
  2. How will the organization gain access to electricity and food?
  3. Will the organization be relocated elsewhere?

The business continuity management team is responsible to ensure these strategies are implemented should a disaster strike.

4. Plan Testing

The final step of this plan consists of testing your plan to improve your ability to recover from various unexpected scenarios successfully. Conduct testing and simulations of their business continuity plans to assess their effectiveness and identify areas for improvement. This allows for fine-tuning of the plans and ensures preparedness in the face of potential disruptions.

BCP testing should be exercised to experiment the effectiveness of your plan. Here are a few pointers to effectively test your business continuity plan:

  • Review plan strategies and ensure each disaster or scenario has been accounted for.
  • Ensure each employee is aware of the significant sections of the plan and their roles in a disaster or scenario. Carry out BCP simulation tests.  These tests include actual recovery actions such as restoring backups and live testing of superfluous systems.
  • Involve vendor partners in your testing process. This will help you attain accuracy in your tests and receive feedback from the vendors on the effectiveness of your plan.
  • Document your testing results and implement processes by following up on the results to improve your BCP.

Wrapping up

Business continuity plans help organizations safeguard their existence as well as retain the trust of their customers and employees. The lack of a well-documented business continuity plan can disrupt the functioning of a business, affect it’s employees’ physical and monetary health, and in some cases, cause complete business failure.

The importance of risk management and compliance automation

A risk management platform can enable organizations to identify and assess potential risks across various areas, such as operational, financial, regulatory, and reputational risks. This helps in understanding the critical risks that could impact business continuity and allows for proactive mitigation efforts.

In the event of a disruption or incident, the platform helps organizations efficiently manage and respond to the situation. It provides a structured framework for incident reporting, tracking, and resolution, ensuring a coordinated response and minimizing downtime.

While it’s difficult to anticipate when the next pandemic might strike, or when businesses will fully recover from the current one, one thing is clear: failing to plan is planning to fail. VComply’s Compliance and Risk Management software streamlines and automates risk assessment, internal control procedures, managing compliance frameworks, and monitoring and reporting.