Planning for the worst can often feel very dooms day, but it’s on those dark days that you will need a plan more than ever. Being prepared can make those stressful situations easier to bear. Business continuity planning (BCP) helps a business mitigate (and respond to) business risks by identifying areas of your organisation that you cannot afford to lose—such as information, stock, premises, staff—and planning how to maintain these if an incident occurs. The purpose of a BCP is to maintain standard business operations and communicate your company’s intent to employees at all locations in the event of an emergency.
In today’s volatile business environment, preparation can be essential to survival. Documenting individual and corporate roles and clearly defined responsibilities in response to a catastrophic event is the key to recovering your business. Nearly a quarter of businesses forced to close as a result of a disaster never reopen.1
How should you put your plan together?
- Gather business and safety resources in one place
- Identify and prioritise key business functions and specify recovery times
- Detail how you’ll meet your recovery times if an incident occurs
- Determine function specific plans
- Create a recovery checklist
- Identify an emergency response team and assign responsibilities
- Ensure your employees know their roles during a crisis
- Test your plan and determine a strategy to keep it up to date
Segment your plan into the following sections to make the task more manageable.
Direction and control – This section of your BCP details managing resources, analysing information and decision making, which will depend on the size of your company and your existing resources.
Communication – In the event of an incident, the ability to communicate quickly with employees is crucial. A robust communication plan is needed to:
- report emergencies
- warn personnel of any danger
- keep families and off-duty employees informed about events
- co-ordinate response actions and keep in contact with customers and suppliers.
Health and safety – This will define your processes for evacuation, accountability, shelter and preparedness during a crisis, which is crucial for a successful plan. Protecting the health and safety of everyone in the facility should be your first priority during an emergency.
Property protection – This should detail how facilities, equipment and vital records will be protected. It is essential to restoring operations once an emergency has occurred.
Community – Your businesses relationship with the community will influence the ability to protect personnel, property and return to normal. This determines the best ways to encourage external businesses to support you through the incident and your businesses recovery.
Recovery and restoration – Business recovery and restoration, goes right to your businesses bottom line: keeping people employed and the business running. It contains your strategy for logistics, distribution, operations, product and service development, marketing, sales, management as well as human resources during a crisis.
BCP maintenance and implementation – It is extremely important to keep your plan up-to-date by exercising, maintaining and reviewing it. Integrating your plan into company workflows and training employees on their roles can assist with this.
In the event of a major business interruption event, discontinuing operations temporarily or permanently may be unavoidable and requires organisation. There will be a variety of factors you’ll need to consider as you go through the process of modifying your business’ level of service or production.
Any incident, large or small, whether it is natural, accidental or deliberate, can cause major disruptions to your business. Delays could mean you lose valuable business to your competitors and that clients lose confidence in you. But if you plan now, rather than hoping an incident won’t happen, you will be able to get back to business in the shortest possible time.
Source: 1Zywave – Business continuity planning services presentation