So, it’s time to create a Business Continuity Plan or to revise your current plan, but where do you start? Your plan can be as simple or comprehensive as you desire but remember – the simpler it is, the more flexible it will be. Here are the four steps you need to follow:
Identify threats or risks
First of all, take a look at the risks that will leave your employees, customers, vendors, property and operations vulnerable. Then weight the probability of each event against its potential impact to your business, as well as your readiness to respond. Consider the following factors:
Historical – what has happened in your area, to your business or operations before? Geographic – are you in a flood plain, near an airport or forest, on the coast or in the city centre. Physical – is there something about the layout or construction of your premises that might make your business particularly susceptible to a certain event?
Organisational – certain industries are particularly susceptible to certain events e.g. strikes and or human error etc. Look closely at your employee, operational or technological infrastructure. Regulatory – this will actually help your process, i.e. is your specific business/industry required to prepare for any hazards?
Conduct a business impact analysis
This part of the Business Continuity planning process is about identifying the people, places, suppliers, processes and infrastructure critical to the survival of your business.
What are your products and services? Prioritise your most crucial products and services. Who is involved internally and externally? Key members of staff, agencies, suppliers who are absolutely necessary to restore critical operations.
At the end of this process you should have a list of items, prioritised by need to restore each after the event. It’s all about what has to be restored straight away and what can wait a week, month or a few months.
Develop your strategy/plan
Now you are getting to the nitty-gritty of your plan. It will list contact numbers, resources and procedures. This ‘how-to’ should include step-by-step instructions on what to do, who should do it and how. List each responsibility and write down the name of the person assigned to it.
Then keep all the information together and give one to each of your key members of staff. Also keep copies securely off-site e.g. at home.
Test, exercise and improve your plan routinely
A business continuity plan is ever-evolving and should adapt to your company’s ever-changing needs. Test and update it regularly – at least annually – or whenever critical functions, facilities, suppliers or staff change. It’s important that your staff understand their roles in the execution of the plan. The key is to ensure the plan works as intended.