When business survival is at stake, can you afford to spend time going over detailed Business Continuity Planning spreadsheets? There is a simpler way: the three ‘C’s – Cash, Clients & Capabilities – of Business Continuity Planning
Business Continuity Planning or BCP is a necessarily detailed activity. From mobilisation charts to mitigation plans, it makes sure your business recovers quickly from a crisis.
Yet in the year of COVID-19, we’ve seen anecdotal evidence that in many cases, the BCP plans that did exist didn’t cater for such a large, all-consuming crisis. And some businesses had no plan at all.
The good news: while BCPs are necessary, there is now a much easier way to get back on your feet.
In May, X-Forces Enterprise – the leading British organisation for enterprise in the military community – ran a virtual session on Business Continuity. Rather than bamboozle attendees with terms and abbreviations, the session was focussed around the 3Cs – Cash, Clients and Capabilities.
Cash, Clients & Capabilities
In simple terms, to survive a business needs cash.
Where do I get cash from? Clients. What do clients give me cash for? My capabilities that I provide to them.
Therefore, for your business to survive at any time requires just one simple question: ‘Is there a market for my capabilities that I can sell to clients to earn cash?’ If there is, the next question becomes: ‘What resources do I need to deliver those capabilities at a profit and how long can my business last if I don’t deliver or if the clients don’t buy?’
That’s it. So simple to explain and understandable to anyone.
Suddenly the requirement for detailed spreadsheets is reduced because I am no longer worried about topics like Business Development, Training or Recruitment, I simply need to carry on doing the things that generate the most cash until such time as the crisis is resolved, then I can pick up the pieces of the rest of the business.
No cash, no business. Sure, if you have navigated the first 48 hours and you have the capacity to do more, that’s a bonus, for example do I need to reduce contractor’s hours or move from running the factory on three shifts a day to two, but the priority is to protect cash.
What is your business’s ‘Critical Activity’ or ‘Main Effort’?
Perhaps one of the things that COVID-19 has rammed home to us all is the significance of the Business Continuity term “critical activity” i.e. that thing that if you no longer do, you go bust.
So, my ask is, as we face a second wave and further limitations on movement and business, have you really focussed on the critical and built sufficient defences that you know how to protect them above all else?
The military use a term – “Main Effort” – which is defined as “that which must be achieved above all else”. Could this be adopted as a Business Continuity term, for example, what is the Business Continuity Main Effort?
Protecting what’s critical
Whilst working through what is absolutely critical and how we protect it, we will obviously identify actions that reduce the likelihood of the event occurring in the first place eg by removing Single Points of Failure, but I believe that the full value of Business Continuity Planning is only really apparent in a major crisis. Given that a crisis by its nature is defined by scale, complexity and uncertainty, the best plans are not the ones stacked full of data, because the data you spend days capturing may no longer be valid in the face of the crisis.
The best plans, in my opinion, ensure an invincible way of gathering the organisations leadership team around a meeting room (real or virtual) to follow a pre-developed agenda and confirm that the business priorities identified and agreed during planning are still valid (ie how do we keep generating sufficient cash) and how to implement the pre-planned actions.
Everything else can be documented under “things to consider” but when faced with the risk of the business failing, we need clear priorities that buy time.
If this has been of interest they you may also like Matthew’s previous blog about preparing for a second wave of COVID-19 available here.
Inverroy helps businesses survive crises. Download Inverroy’s free Business Continuity Plan Template to help you identify your business’s critical activity. Similarly, get in touch for an informal conversation on how we can help you build your Business Continuity and Resilience.
Matthew is the Founder of Inverroy Crisis Management Ltd and combines 25 years of experience as an officer in the UK Armed Forces with a decade in business delivering organisational resilience solutions to clients from Mexico to Malaysia and Aberdeen to Australia.