Business owners and managers know that it only takes one emergency to cause havoc in their day-to-day operations. But what if these changes last for days or even months, and cause the organization to come to a halt? With these risks in mind, managers must be prepared for disruptions that will affect business functions, such as security breaches and infrastructure updates.

To prevent interruptions that could jeopardize operations and revenue, companies should focus on business continuity planning — a crucial step to avoid downtime. Following are five changes and events that could impede business continuity, and how to prepare for them.

1. Infrastructure, System, or Device Updates

Whenever there is a new update, whether it affects the company’s infrastructure or just select devices, downtime is likely to happen. As part of a business continuity plan, organizations should ensure that updates are properly installed or integrated within existing systems and devices. In addition, managers should inform employees of these updates or even train them ahead of time. If not, upgrades could lead to more downtime than necessary.

2. Compliance and Regulation Changes

Due to shifting industry regulations, companies may experience downtime as they update their systems as mentioned above. Be aware of regulations regarding management or protection of corporate or customer data when using cloud-based applications or services. Managers should understand how any regulatory changes could affect their current continuity plan.

3. Data Breaches and Security Risks

One of the most devastating kinds of business disruptions is the dreaded data breach. Security breaches of personal, financial, or other types of data can ruin a company’s reputation, rack up data breach investigation and remediation costs, and compromise critical business systems. According to the 2016 Cost of Data Breach Study by Ponemon Institute and IBM, the total cost of a data breach can reach $4 million. Managers should include comprehensive procedures in business continuity plans that list the resources and personnel involved and what to do in the event of a data breach or cyberattack.

4. Company Tech Policy Adjustments

Technology constantly changes the way companies oversee business operations. Organizations should set firm guidelines on how employees deal with social media, as well as with regard to whether they can use their personal devices for business. Keep in mind that there may be extra training involved in any policy modifications.

5. Unexpected Disasters

A wide-reaching disaster can affect a company for a short period of time, but has the potential to lead to complete shutdown if a business is unprepared. Companies should have steps in place to handle unexpected disasters such as power outages, weather-related emergencies, and other causes of downtime.

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