A business continuity system helps to ensure the continuation of a company's core activities in the face of natural perils, accidents, security breaches, and death or severe injury to key personnel. Different types of business continuity systems address these various threats and offer different levels of protection. The science of risk management is used to not only assess potential threats to business continuity, but also to prevent, curtail and minimize the impacts of those threats. There are several approaches for developing a business continuity system.
All companies, regardless of size, ideally should have a business continuity system in place, and it should be updated annually, as business operations may change over time. The smaller the business, the higher is the likelihood that disaster recovery may be insufficient to avoid dire economic consequences. Large corporations typically have complex and multifaceted business continuity systems in place, and these systems would most likely ensure the continuation of those large-scale businesses, even in the face of a severe disaster. With a small business, however, the death of a key person, for example, could lead to the closure or sale of the business.
Virtually any business continuity system will likely include computerized data management. A data management business continuity system implements software and hardware strategies for preserving data from both unauthorized intrusions and loss due to damaged hardware or corrupted software. The larger the company, the more robust the backup systems will need to be to effectively guard against data loss and down time.
These systems may be standalone. If so, the business will still require a method to ensure continuation of non–data dependent operations, such as tasks involving personnel management, sales, production activities and financial management. Business continuity systems also help to soften the deleterious impact of an exodus of staff.
For a small business, the temporary or permanent loss of a staff member or owner who performs essential tasks can negatively impact the continuity of a business. There are business continuity systems that address the loss of a key man or woman, through provision of key person insurance. Such insurance compensates the business monetarily for the loss or extended absence of the individual. This compensation allows for the hiring of additional help during the transition period. Key person insurance may be one part of a larger business continuity system, or it may be a standalone provision of a business continuity plan.