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External Business Environment - Business Continuity Plan

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External Business Environment - Business Continuity Plan

Every industry has a leader who has a strategically very intelligent business plan and follows practices that become guide for the rest of the industries and sometimes across the industry. Wal-Mart is one such organization which has so many unique practices that pages and pages have been filled describing them. Wal-Mart is a perfect example of a company that has learnt from the mistakes of others and made it to the top by making constant efforts at keeping the customers extremely satisfied and providing top-notch uninterrupted service. This paper deals with understanding the external business environment and its impact on the firm's strategic business continuity plan with regard to Wal-Mart stores in U.S. Secondly, the paper has analysis of the general, industry and competitor environments and the role of business ethics in gathering competitor intelligence.

External business market and its influence on the firm's strategic business continuity plan

The external business market of Wal-Mart is extremely unique and dynamic. The external business market of any company has a lot of influence on the Business continuity plan. The business continuity plan attempts to ensure that critical IT services must be delivered to guarantee survival and meet legal obligations of an organization in the event of a disaster. It is a kind of proactive planning. The first influence of the external business market in the strategic business continuity plan of Wal-Mart is that the external business market is very dynamic and prone to a lot of changes and this leads to the importance of the development of agile IT and other systems which can be changed as when the need arises. Second, the external environment also has risks like terrorist attacks, hurricanes, floods; earthquakes and so on also have an influence on the Business Continuity Plan. Necessary programs and technology is acquired to ensure that the firms can recover the data and other critical information after the disaster has stricken. For instance, once Hurricane Katrina made its way off of the Gulf Coast, Wal-Mart discovered that more than 170 stores and approximately 34,000 employees were somehow impacted by the storm. Yet a finely tuned disaster-recovery plan helped the chain successfully tend to the needs of its employees, stores and consumers. Storm modeling solutions were used to forecast the speed of the winds and so on. The external business market also consists of a lot of fluctuations and uncertainty in terms of the availability of various types of resources. This influences the BCP by including a component for identification of adequate number of resources such as personnel, infrastructure and money to support business continuity if the Wal-Mart stores get hit by a disaster.

Wal-Mart stores have a huge number of people coming to them every day and there can be no scope of error at any stage of purchase. But, 8,000, 000 cards were overcharged at Wal-Mart because of hard ware problems ! This is the magnitude of risk associated with the extremely dynamic environment of operation. Business continuity planning includes many other concepts like Risk Assessment, Business Impact Analysis, Disaster recovery plan, business recovery plan, business resumption, contingency planning, and crisis management and so on.

Analysis of general, industry and competitor environment

The general industry has a lot of shift towards achieving sustainability, making food, medicine, clothing and other common items more affordable to the common people. For instance, Wal-Mart is working with Michelle Obama to make healthy food affordable to the people in the U.S. There is also an increased emphasis on having long term relationships and mutually beneficial relationships with all the stakeholders. For instance, the industry lays lot of emphasis on developing healthy relationships with the farmers. It is not just about sales and profits, it's more about the manner in which such profits are gained and the contribution that the company is making to the society and the not so lucky people. The performance of the economy on the whole also as a great impact on the retail industry and stores likes Wal-Mart does get impacted. The profits in this industry are directly related to the GDP and other important parameters of health of an economy.

The retail industry is a sector of the economy that is comprised of individuals and companies engaged in the selling of finished products to end user consumers. Multi-store retail chains in the U.S. are both publicly traded on the stock exchange and privately owned. Wal-Mart is one such company that operates in the larger retail industry. The retail industry is very big in size and is extremely dynamic in nature. It is the second largest industry in U.S. and Wal-Mart is the biggest retailer in the world. An estimates two-third of the U.S. GDP comes from retail consumption.

The competitor environment is very interesting. The primary competitor to Wal-Mart stores in U.S. comes from general merchandise retailers, supermarket retailers and warehouse clubs. The top competitors of Wal-Mart compete both at the domestic, national as well as the international level. In general merchandise retailing, the primary competitors of Wal-Mart is Target and Kmart. Some other competitors include Circuit City and Bed Bath and Beyond. In fact the competition occurs on various fronts like pricing, location, store size, technology and innovation, merchandise mix, offers and discounts, overall image and so on. The competition is also based on how well the companies are able to integrate many functions such as purchasing , manufacturing, advertising, shipping, etc and how the economies of scale are achieved. Such functions have the ability to give significant



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