Sarah Lichtner
Four Key Components of Business Continuity
Sarah LichtnerMarch 24, 2015

I was recently ill with a stomach virus that prevented me from attending an important client meeting. Luckily, I had planned ahead and developed PowerPoint slides and other essential materials two days prior to the meeting, just hours before falling ill. While not ideal, one of my coworkers was able to step in the day of the meeting to help the rest of our team gather the input necessary to meet our client’s needs.

In addition to sudden illnesses, the continuity of Nexight’s operations has been threatened by power and telecommunications outages; interruptions in transportation due to flooding, ice, and snow; and even a critical hostage situation in an office building across the street from ours. In each of these situations, the following four components of our business continuity plan helped us to prevent disruptions in our service to clients.

Recognize Risks and Threats — Business continuity requires access to essential facilities, technology, information, and personnel, all of which can be impacted by a variety of threats both within and outside of a company. Identifying and regularly reassessing these threats helps us to mitigate risks and prepare for the potential impacts of events we can’t control.

Train Employees — Our company recently launched the Nexight Academy, an internal training program that aims to improve the technical skills employees need to perform their job functions and the soft skills necessary to be effective consultants. In addition to supporting personal and job development across the company, such training opportunities help arm employees with the skills necessary to step up and fill in when needed. We also regularly practice emergency procedures such as evacuation and lockdown drills to ensure that all employees can respond effectively in the event of an emergency.

Communicate Often — Regularly scheduled staff and project meetings are important platforms for sharing project schedules, status, and roles and responsibilities. Such meetings facilitate more seamless and collaborative execution of project plans and critical aspects of company operation. Additionally, we encourage company-wide communication about potential or anticipated disruptions to facility access, technology, information sharing, or personnel availability. For example, we inform team members about vacations well in advance and alert staff if there is a risk of network disruptions during IT infrastructure maintenance so they can continue working on files locally on their computers.

Be Flexible — To support a flexible work environment and allow employees to work from different locations more easily, all of our employees have laptops with virtual private network (VPN) access. This capability has been particularly helpful this winter when many of our employees worked from home during snowstorms. We also frequently use instant messaging and video conferencing to stay connected and support collaboration.

It’s impossible (and not particularly time- or cost-effective) to account for every potential disruption to business operations, but Nexight works hard to account for major threats. We regularly conduct risk assessments at both the company and project level and put measures in place to prevent and mitigate risks. This careful planning and anticipation of obstacles keeps us running and allows us to complete projects on time, even when a team member is hit with a last-minute bug.