As a business continuity professional, you’re probably accustomed to thinking about worse-case scenarios and planning for how you’ll deal with them.
It’s your job to think about all the things that could disrupt your operations, what the impacts could be, and how you can quickly and efficiently get your company back to normal operations as soon as possible.
If you live in a hurricane-prone area, for example, or an area that has frequent flooding or heavy snowfalls, you’ve likely included those issues in your business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) plans. Those are events that may have a high probability of happening, but hopefully low-to-medium levels of impact.
According to NOAA, 2019 was the fifth consecutive year where there were 10 or more billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in the U.S. If not prepared with effective business continuity and disaster recovery plans, disasters like these can have devastating impacts on your operations.
But what about events that are far less likely to happen, but could have an extremely high impact on your business?
Low-Probability, High-Impact Events
For example, maybe your organization is in an area that’s never experienced an earthquake. Since it hasn’t happened, it’s not likely it’s included in your BC or DR plans. But, what would happen if one struck a region and had impacts on your community? Could you react and recover?
Or, what if a political issue somewhere across the globe suddenly halted the import of much-needed supplies, and, unfortunately, you only have one supplier who can provide you with the parts you need to manufacture your products?
Here are a few examples:
- Unanticipated natural disasters like a tsunami
- Major terrorist attack, like 9/11
- Stock market crash or similar financial fall-out
- Oil spill or halting of oil production and distribution
- Nuclear disaster, like Fukishima, Japan
- A significant political event, like Brexit
While these incident types may not happen often, when they do, they can have a tremendous impact on your business from loss of production to brand damage and economic losses.
But if you don’t know an event could happen, how do you plan for it?
Planning for Low-Probability, High-Impact Events
When it comes to Black Swans, it’s not about predicting everything that could occur. It’s about planning for the consequences of a catastrophic event and then strategizing about how you’d mitigate impact, respond quickly, and work together to resume normal operations as fast as possible.
Think Broadly, Plan Locally
Instead of planning specifically for what your team would do if affected by a specific event, like a tsunami, plan in broader terms.
For example, what would you do if your building was completely destroyed? What if there was no power or water in your area and most of your employees can’t work? What would you do?
Look at all of your critical business functions. What would it take to get those processes up and running again? Reverse engineer your strategy based on potential impact, not cause.
A critical asset inventory is a key starting point. You should understand how your assets and processes function, who is responsible for them, how to get them operational as quickly as possible, and the people and resources you’ll need to make this happen.
Don’t forget back-ups. Never rely on a single asset or person to ensure your operational resiliency.
Source the right solutions
Assurance crisis management solutions can help you predefine event scenarios so you can quickly sequence appropriate response and recovery tasks, validate your recovery time objectives (RTO), identify all of your critical assets—from applications to processes, from plans to hardware, from people to locations, and even vendors and suppliers—and track all of your event recoverability actions.
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Written by Assurance Software
Assurance Software takes your company’s enterprise-wide business continuity and resiliency program to the next level. With Assurance as your go-to partner for continuity and resilience, you can confidently mitigate risk, manage recovery, and safeguard your employees, customers, operations and brands.