If the current pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that having an up-to-date, tested business continuity strategy is essential for business survival. According to recent research, 51% of companies didn’t have a business continuity plan in place when the pandemic hit.
For legal firms without a plan, the interruption to business caused by coronavirus meant a significant loss in fee earner income and serious reputational damage. However, even for those who were unprepared, implementing a business continuity strategy now will benefit legal businesses and their clients.
What is a business continuity strategy?
A business continuity strategy is a plan which protects your systems, information and assets from threats or events which interrupt the running of your business. It is essentially a system of prevention and recovery, which allows you to continue providing services to your clients should an event occur.
The first step is to identify any risks that could affect your legal firms’ operations. Then, formulate a plan which will:
- Find out how any risks would affect your business
- Put safeguards and procedures in place to mitigate risks
- Test the plan to make sure the safeguards and procedures work
- Regularly review the plan and keep it up to date
What are the current risks to legal firms?
Legal firms face several risks that a business continuity strategy should address:
Health and safety of your employees: how would your business operate if a large percentage of staff are off ill with coronavirus? Are you compliant with Covid-19 regulations for workplaces? Have you evaluated risks to your staff? If your team are working from home, do they have a suitable workplace and the equipment they need? Do they need to adjust their working hours because they are looking after their families? Has their mental health been affected by the pandemic and do they need any external support?
Working from home: have you got the infrastructure in place to allow your employees to work from home? Are your virtual systems and storage facilities secure? What are your critical services or functions and are there any non-critical services you could put on hold if you need to?
Not being able to adapt to changing client requirements: have you got a robust communication plan in place to keep connected with your clients and their changing needs? Are you flexible enough/have the depth of experience to change the services you offer if your clients’ needs change? Can you provide crisis services?
Cashflow: do you have a cash flow forecast in place? Which outgoings and expenses can you reduce? Are you up to date with invoicing and billing? Do your contracts allow for renegotiation of payment terms if necessary? Are you eligible for any government assistance?
Reputational damage: is your legal firm taking positive action to help the wider community? The reputation of your firm will be enhanced if you act altruistically for the benefit of those hardest hit by the pandemic.
A change for the better?
The response to the pandemic has shown that for many firms, digital transformation in a short period is possible. Obstacles once seen as impossible are gone, opening up opportunities for businesses to work in a truly agile way.
From a business continuity perspective, many legal firms set up successful virtual collaborative workspaces which allowed them to provide legal services without being office-based. The flexibility of this approach benefited both clients and businesses and is likely to become a permanent part of the way we work.
Having a robust business continuity strategy in place means you can be confident you can deliver a seamless service to your clients no matter what external factors or issues you face.
If you’d like to talk to someone about how to implement and manage your business continuity strategy or day-to-day IT management requirements, contact CBSIT today. Our experienced team will talk you through your options and ensure you find a solution tailored to your needs.