The Basics of a Business Continuity Plan

Any organization is at risk for the following:

  • Natural disasters (floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, fire)
  • Environmental disasters (like chemical spills)
  • Accidents
  • Sabotage
  • Losing key personnel
  • Cyber attacks and hacker activity
  • Theft
  • IT system crashes
  • Power and energy disruptions

Sadly, many small business owners never take the time to develop a plan to address disaster striking.  It is only once they have experienced first-hand the devastating consequences that they wish that they had implemented a plan in advance. This is a great pity, because a Business Continuity Plan is the least expensive insurance for a small business.  In fact, it gives your organization a competitive edge.  Perhaps it may not seem so now, but when the time comes, it will be worth its weight in gold. A business continuity plan that works means that your company will survive a disaster and can continue its operations no matter what the circumstances.

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

A Business Continuity Plan is simply a proactive documented planning process that insures that critical services or products are delivered during a disruption. It stipulates how employees will communicate, where they will go, and how they will keep on doing their jobs in case of a disaster. It is important to identify the core operational systems and work processes so that the services and products can be delivered to your customers, no matter what happens.

What is included in a Business Continuity Plan?

Every business is different, and you will have to analyze what the bare minimum is for your business to survive.  A few ideas of what to include are listed below:

  • Who your key personnel and backups are
  • External contacts
  • Critical equipment (eg. PC’s)
  • Critical documents (everything you would need to start your business again)
  • Responsibility list of who does what and how they should do it if disaster strikes

Who needs it?

Every organization and business should have a Business Continuity Plan.  It is especially important for small businesses as they are far more vulnerable to external circumstances.

Why do they need it?

  • It ensures that a business has the resources and information needed to deal with disasters.
  • It safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, its reputation and its value-creating activities.
  • It gives an organization the opportunity to identify the potential impacts of disasters that threaten it, and to develop a framework and system of responding to the disaster in a timely and appropriate manner.
  • It is becoming more and more common that potential customers want to see that there is a Business Continuity Plan in place to protect their interests in the company.
  • It safeguards your company’s reputation.

Conclusion

It is essential that once a Business Continuity Plan is in place, that all staff should be trained as to what their role is in case of disaster. To further streamline the implementation of the Business Continuity Plan, you should test it from time to time, making the necessary adjustments where hiccups are experienced. Most importantly, the Business Continuity Plan must be updated regularly as the business changes.  It is not a document to be compiled and then forgotten about. A Business Continuity Plan is not just there to cover high profile disasters.  It is about being ready for any incident that may cause disruption to your business.  Rather be prepared than sorry.

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