For every business enterprise, especially in times of great uncertainty, such as now, contingency planning has become one of the most critical components for creating a successful business strategy and ensuring business continuity. The need for a contingency plan is not only to prepare the business in the face of natural disasters, pandemics and emergencies but also for common workplace problems such as that of loss of confidential data, work redundancies etc. We at PG Paper believe in having a sound contingency plan in place for different business risk scenarios, and our contingency planning is based on the motto that in the face of every risk we need to not only survive but also thrive as a business.
The key to building a versatile and robust contingency plan for any business, is to continually plan and review collectively as a team with all levels of management in the business. It is critical to work together as a team to ensure that the developed contingency plan is not only effective but also comprehensive. Planning for contingencies not only helps the business prepare for unforeseen disasters but also helps us to identify our vulnerabilities as a business and helps fill that gap. We, therefore, recommend the following five essential elements for building a realistic, participatory and comprehensive contingency plan for any business.
1- Scenario Plan – Anticipate the Types of Risks or Disasters you might face
A scenario planning exercise is a critical part of contingency planning as it helps the business to assess, identify and prioritise future risks to the business in different scenarios. Developing scenarios as a team will ensure that most critical questions are covered, and realistic plans are developed, which will determine the scale of the collective team response and resource requirements. It helps us in anticipating the type of risks or disasters we might face, and to create appropriate response plans for when they strike.
2- Create an Information Manual – your ‘Go-To Document
The next requirement would be to ensure that there exists an up-to-date operational information manual for every risk scenario that is identified. This manual would be the go-to document which will list the roles and responsibilities of all team members at the time of the contingency and the response, decision and information dissemination protocol that will need to be followed. It will be a comprehensive document that will set the tone for business recovery and response activities and also ensure quality and accountability of operations.
3- Recovery Planning
An extensive contingency planning exercise covers all the bases regarding establishing business communication, mitigating financial risks and creating relevant response plans. In addition to this, a critical element of contingency planning is business recovery planning which will list out the step by the step procedures for the recovery and regular operation of all essential business functions. The recovery aspect of the plan is always going to be fluid as part of the recovery measures will have to be decided and initiated in real-time during the contingency.
4- Stress Test
Conduct stress tests as part of contingency planning exercise, to help you and your team uncover any gaps in the planning while ensuring sufficient training has also been carried out. We consider it as a very critical element of contingency planning as it helps to provide clarity and instils emergency preparedness within both the management and staff – and ultimately leads to team coordination; vital to ensure any business’s continuity of operations and survival.
5- Review Regular Review
Lastly, regularly updating and evaluating the contingency plan is as important as creating one in the first place as any personnel, technological or operational changes within the business could easily make the plan ineffective and inept.
Successful contingency planning is central to PG Paper’s business strategy and committing team time and resource to work through these five key elements has been crucial in these current challenging times. Spending time doing the right contingency planning, will save your business time and money, should disaster strike.