4 Strategies to Ensure Business Continuity in a Volatile Economy

Last Updated: 

March 28, 2023

If there’s one key takeaway that businesses learned upon going through the global COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that one always needs to prepare for the worst. Even after the threat of the virus started to dissipate, other disasters threatened to destabilise the recovering global economy. Some of the most pertinent examples include the Suez Canal blockage in 2021 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

The impact of such crises on the global supply chain is extensive and will be felt in the long term. Both investments and the markets they’re made in could buckle under the strain of multiple disasters, causing unprecedented volatility that’s never good news for the business sector. 

That said, it’s in the best interest of both local and global companies to come up with business continuity plans to withstand the economic volatility brought about by natural disasters on a global scale, pandemics, wars, geopolitical instability, and other catastrophic events. Here’s what businesses should know about continuity, plus four strategies to achieve it amidst a volatile economy.

Key Takeaways on Ensuring Business Continuity

  1. Importance of Business Continuity: In the face of global catastrophes and economic volatility, businesses need to prioritise robust continuity plans that allow them to maintain critical processes and operations.
  2. Conduct Business Impact Analysis: Businesses should identify their key operations and assess potential losses, operational costs, and impacts on customers and employees in order to prioritise resources and develop a solid continuity plan.
  3. Initiate Risk Identification and Risk Mitigation: Companies must assess the specific risks that crises pose to their organisation and develop tailored risk management and mitigation strategies, such as acceptance, mitigation, or transfer of risk.
  4. Form a Business Continuity Leadership Team: Establishing a dedicated team with core leaders trained to manage teams during crises ensures efficient decision-making and prioritisation of critical business functions.
  5. Test, Evaluate, and Update Strategies: Regular evaluation and updates of business continuity plans are essential to ensure agility, flexibility, and preparedness in the face of changing conditions and potential disasters.

By prioritising business continuity strategies, businesses can better cope with global catastrophes and unexpected crises, leading to sustained recovery and success when the economic situation stabilises.

Get Your FREE Signed Copy of Take Your Shot

What Is Business Continuity?

In the face of adverse conditions, businesses need to have robust plans that allow the continuation of their most critical processes. A business continuity plan is a vital set of strategies that allows companies to weather the storm and thrive after the worst is over. 

Unfortunately, business continuity plans and risk management are often not the priority in an organisation. In fact, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was revealed that few companies were prepared for such a global catastrophe to occur.

According to a survey by Gartner done in March 2020, only 12 percent of 1,500 respondents were confident about their readiness to face the impact of the COVID-19 virus. Moreover, 26 percent believed that the virus wouldn’t affect their businesses. These numbers illustrate an alarming lack of focus on risk management and business continuity, and they may explain global businesses’ haphazardness when rolling out emergency measures for their operations.

Four Key Strategies for Achieving Business Continuity in Economically Volatile Times 

Knowing that global disasters could strike any time, businesses may now know the value of being safe rather than sorry. Companies are best off preparing their businesses to operate in volatile times—and, above all, assuming that economic volatility might occur sooner rather than later. Below are four strategies for achieving business continuity and further mitigating the economic effects of ongoing and future global catastrophes:  

Conduct Business Impact Analysis and Focus on the Most Critical Business Processes

One of the first things a business must do even before a disaster happens is to identify its key operations. These comprise vital business functions that are required to keep a business alive amidst a crisis. Determining what a company’s key operations are will allow its members to focus on what’s important. Zeroing in on key operations by way of business impact analysis will help businesses utilize their resources towards prioritising these vital functions.

In preparing for the worst-case scenario, companies must be asking the right questions. How big is the potential loss of revenue? Will there be increased operational costs amid a disaster? What are the fines and penalties that the business may incur in case it can’t fulfil its financial obligations?

Aside from the financial impact of a volatile economy, businesses have to think about the people aspect of their operations as well. How will they serve their customers during the crisis? How can they support their employees through the tough times ahead?

The process of business impact analysis will paint a complete picture of the business’s threats and opportunities. It will reveal process dependencies along with openings to use resources such as digital infrastructure to mitigate the negative impact on the organisation.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies now understand how important it is to have digital infrastructure in place to maintain connectivity and keep operations going even if employees are separated by distance.

In the Philippines, infrastructure solutions provider Aboitiz InfraCapital has taken the lead in bridging the digital divide with projects such as the Unity Digital Infrastructure common tower venture and the installation of small cell sites all across the country. The Unity project aims to provide a shared cell tower for different mobile network operators (MNOs) to boost cellular signal and improve connectivity throughout the country. Meanwhile, the small cell sites increase the density of mobile signals for faster 5G deployment.

Thanks to these advancements in the digital infrastructure sector, workers can work from home utilizing cloud computing, video conferencing, and other tools to keep in touch with their colleagues and maintain productivity.

Initiate Risk Identification and Risk Mitigation

The next step a business must take after conducting impact analysis is to assess the risk that a particular crisis poses to the organisation. It’s important to identify threats and determine the implications for particular processes. For example, how will a geopolitical conflict impact a company’s personnel, supply chain, sales channels, and capital? In case of major natural disasters, does the company have access to backup servers and other related technologies to allow core business operations to continue?

Every company is different, which means that each business must develop its own specific risk management and mitigation strategies according to its own needs. Good starting points include the following:

  • Acceptance. These strategies recognize the inevitability of the threats to business operations. Teams would need to anticipate working with diminished resources and possible decreases in productivity.
  • Mitigation. Businesses need to have backup strategies such as alternate locations, additional servers, and redundant personnel to guarantee critical operations will still continue despite disruptions.
  • Transfer. Another way businesses can move forward through a disaster is by outsourcing operations and risks. A good example of this is insurance. In case of a wildfire that may disrupt a whole province’s industry, a business is assured of capital to rebuild its operations.

Form a Business Continuity Leadership Team

In an economically volatile environment, decisions must be made quickly and efficiently. That’s why it’s ideal for companies to form business continuity management teams before further disasters unfold. Core leaders in this team must be trained to manage teams amidst a crisis. Moreover, they have to be fully knowledgeable and fully prepared to prioritise critical business functions.

In general, the team should include the following:

  • Senior executive. Ideally, the overall leader should come from senior management. They will be responsible for the business continuity plans of the company.
  • Business continuity manager. This manager is in charge of the planning and execution of a company’s continuity program.
  • Assistant business continuity manager. In case the manager won’t be able to fulfil their duties, the assistant manager can serve as a backup to ensure the implementation of the company’s plans.

The team may also include an administrative assistant who supports the team and makes sure resources are available and ready for use. In addition, different leaders from critical departments should also be represented in the team’s business continuity plans. In fact, leaders from each department should undergo business continuity training and learn drills for more effective implementation when a crisis occurs.

Test, Evaluate, and Update Strategies

To ensure that any company is prepared for a disaster, their strategies for business continuity must be tested and adjusted to fit specific threats. The different teams and departments should be agile and flexible enough to respond to the changing conditions of their environment.

As with most business processes, regular evaluation and updates are needed for the best chances of success. Businesses need to incorporate innovative technologies to ensure that they are ahead not only of the competition, but of future disasters at all times. After all, business continuity is about staying competitive even in the direst situations. An organisation that is adequately prepared for the worst can gain the market advantage, particularly after the crisis is over.

While economic volatility looms ahead, businesses can’t afford to be unprepared. They need to prioritise business continuity strategies to cope with global catastrophes and unexpected crises. That is the only way to gain a chance at sustained recovery—and sustained success in their respective industries—when the economic situation stabilises.

People Also Like to Read...