Every business owner’s nightmare is a storm that may sweep their business away. In the case of a natural disaster like a fire or hurricane, SaaS businesses can lose money and valuable resources. In severe situations, the company might need to close. Having a detailed, company-wide plan is the need of the hour. This plan prevents interruptions and provides recommendations on getting back on track as soon as possible. Some threats to a SaaS business include but are not limited to:
- A global pandemic
- Natural disaster
- Human-made disaster
- Power outage
- International threats
- Password and information breaches
To protect SaaS businesses from loss, a business continuity plan looks at these threats and prepares you for the worst. Let’s discuss the most critical aspects of a business continuity plan for SaaS companies, after looking at business continuity’s definition.
What is business continuity?
Business continuity refers to the ability of an organization to continue core functions and operations when an unplanned incident or natural disaster brings its critical systems to a halt. Devising a business continuity plan requires “interdepartmental collaboration” and technology implementations to restore standard operations in a certain period. The approach is vital for SaaS companies, and based on opinions of several experts, companies need to allocate a business budget towards this area accordingly.
At a high level, business continuity plans require companies to examine themselves, identify potential gaps in security and collect important data, such as contact information and technical designs of servers. All of this information can be vital outside of an emergency. In executing the plan, a SaaS company can enhance its resilience, technology, and communication.
Devising a business continuity plan
Though business continuity plans come in several shapes and sizes, the ones that apply to SaaS companies contain the following steps:
Find clear objectives and set goals
Firstly, a SaaS business identifies the purposes of a business continuity plan and sets clear goals around it. Here are examples of such objectives:
- How detailed should the plan be?
- How many departments will this plan cover?
- What elements will make a successful plan?
- Which milestones should we track?
Another critical factor is the budget for this plan and your limit to exhaust the budget on business continuity. Training, backups, and recovery are some processes that need a free flow of budget to continue. SaaS business continuity plan applies to the entire company because of the nature of work.
Choose your A-Team
The most essential part of a business continuity plan is the team that can deliver. SaaS businesses are not different from other companies in this regard, because every business needs their A team. Make a list of every member on your side and note down their contact and emergency contact details. An intelligent business continuity plan creates an A team and a sub-team for maximum efficiency. For example, if a cloud business faces a threat, there should be a layer of first responders and sub-teams to share the load.
Based on the size and workload, you can create task-oriented teams.
Perform a Business Impact Analysis
Business Impact Analysis (BIA) is an integral part of business continuity plans. This step collects information on potential threats to your business and the state of current security. The company’s experts should predict these threats and potential loopholes. The business impact analysis document also lists down explanations of core SaaS deliverables and the most critical areas that need protection. BIA also lists down potential scenarios that can happen and current resources available to deal with them on full capacity. In the end, you create a report that is the most logical and puts every available resource in the clear.
Highlight Key Business Objectives
Every SaaS business is not the same, so the first rule would be to highlight your key business objectives. This is the time to think about the operations which will get impacted the most by a disaster. Examples of such operations include revenue loss, loss of reputation, trouble in operating smoothly, etc.
Once you examine the objectives, you should classify them as high, medium, or low. SaaS businesses provide a service which needs to be superfluous in times of crisis. That is why removing operations offsite should also be one of your considerations.
List Down Pain Points or Obstacles
When brainstorming on a SaaS business continuity plan, ask all key stakeholders to talk about potential pain points. If you have multiple departments, ask the department heads to do this exercise with their teams. Another right way to find pain points is by developing a rating system for crucial business functions. For example, how will you rate the power backup solution if a tornado rages in town? Information collected from your team will help to make a fool-proof business continuity plan.
Craft an Operations Plan
This section is the most detailed and ticks all boxes of the SaaS business continuity plan. As the company gets bigger and adds more workforce, you must keep revisiting this document to make changes. At every step, you will analyze current resources and how to go a step further. Let’s take the example of the current COVID-19 crisis and its impact on SaaS businesses.
List down any preventive actions the SaaS business must take before an accident occurs. You will find loopholes and things that need a re-thought. For example: For situations like the COVID-19 lockdown, it was important for SaaS employers to factor remote working in as a preventive measure.
Every department of a SaaS business should have an emergency response plan. These rules are essentials for easy and quick recovery back to normalcy. After the COVID-19 lockdown is over, every department should know how to report back with safety protocols and updates for the higher-ups.
After an incident is over, SaaS businesses need to focus on recovery. In this example, when the lockdown is over, employees must have a detailed plan to follow from the moment they are called back to work.
People or the media might ask you the timeline when you will get back to work, and you must have an idea and a spokesperson to deliver this information. In this case, a Recovery Point Objective (RPO) defines the timelines.
Make a Testing Schedule
Make a testing curriculum for your A team as well as other employees to train them for such a time of emergencies. Basic training and a little overview of your business continuity plan can achieve this goal. Exercises that test the strength and durability of your project can prepare employees in the best way. Tactical exercises that test your SaaS business continuity plan are the best way to learn and un-learn past methods. For example, a mock emergency drill that keeps updating according to the latest trends will prepare employees to stay alert at all times.
While your A team is equipped with the best skills to deal with any situation, you should train other employees to take charge if all other resources are swamped with responsibilities. At the end of every exercise or drill, every employee must exhibit readiness and motivation to follow each step of the plan.
That’s it. You’ve now learned what goes into SaaS business continuity planning. These measures will not only help you address your vulnerabilities, but also make your company more resilient in emergencies. Even if you’re unable to execute some of these steps, just having an idea of what needs to be done will provide recurring losses during unplanned events.