Business Continuity for Small Businesses – We Can Do Better!

Rob Giffin Rob Giffin | Feb 23, 2012

If you have less than 500 employees, odds are you don’t have someone working full-time on business continuity.  And, unless regulations require you to perform planning in some manner, your organization may not have a business continuity plan at all!

Due to complex and distributed operations in larger organizations, business continuity is often a full-time position because the processes needed to establish recovery priorities and implement recovery strategies are often just as complex.  Fortunately, most small and medium-sized organizations escape such complexity and thus have the opportunity to implement streamlined planning processes.  In fact, I would argue their needs are pretty simple:

  • Prioritize departments and activities;
  • Identify and classify dependencies;
  • Establish an approach to recover the critical departments and the critical dependencies;
  • Write a plan to ensure a repeatable implementation of the recovery approach, along with details on how to ‘restart’ the critical departments; and
  • Exercise your plan, identifying lessons learned and building experiences.

Now, this SEEMS a lot like the process large organizations would use, which is exactly the point! Why? Because the goals of business continuity don’t change based on organization size.  What must change is the process used to accomplish the steps above due to limited time and resources.  For smaller organizations, many of these steps can be accomplished in days and with just a few key players.

So, if it’s that easy, why aren’t more small to medium-sized organizations doing it?  I think there are several key reasons, including:

  1. Lack of Interest:  Many organizations just don’t think about continuity planning until a disaster happens – this seems to be especially true of smaller organizations that are primarily focused on surviving!
  2. Complexity:  Those that do want to be prepared are faced with a perception of business continuity planning complexity – Business Impact Analyses, Risks Assessments, management systems, etc. Basically, too much jargon and too much complexity often overwhelms those who are trying to do the right thing.  In addition to complexity, there’s the perception that business continuity equals redundancy or duplication (and smaller organizations are always looking for ways to simplify and streamline).
  3. Lack of Assistance:  There are few resources available that cut through the complexity and provide true value to smaller organizations!  The majority of players in the business continuity industry are focused on larger organizations – software tools, consultants and even industry magazines are primarily geared towards “enterprise” customers.  Further, many that do target smaller organizations are often using out-of-date approaches and just blindly selling templates with a few hours of customization.

Current events, such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and power outages continue to make national news and spur increased interest in business continuity – even from small and medium businesses.  At Avalution, we’ve taken a critical review of “normal” business continuity planning processes and implemented simplicity and pragmatism to make business continuity planning cost-effective and appropriate for smaller organizations.

Over the coming months, we’re excited to share with you more of what we’ve been working on! But, in the interim, we’re interested in hearing your wants and needs.

So, tell us, what tools and techniques would you like to see for smaller organizations?


Robert Giffin
Avalution Consulting: Business Continuity Consulting