Your business continuity plan (BCP) should contain everything you need to get your business running again after a disruption or crisis. Long before that event happens, you need to recognise the threats and risks facing your company. It’s not just about keeping the business going, but also protecting your people and your assets. No one likes to think of the worst case scenario, but if you do, you can have a BCP which answers all the difficult “what if…?” questions.
The complexity of your business continuity plan will depend on the size and nature of your business. According to Investopedia, it typically should include the following:
- Define any potential risk, including its likely impact on your operations
- Have safeguards in place to limit those risks
- Test your procedures to make sure they will work when you need them
- Regularly review the process to keep abreast of changing circumstances
The disruptive event could be minor or catastrophic. Your business continuity plan will obviously need to be flexible so that your company’s response matches the gravity of the disaster. A simple example of a business continuity plan could be a finance company based in a major city making sure its computer files are backed up offsite. If the head office is shut down for any reason, satellite offices could continue to access the company’s records.
You can effectively develop a business continuity plan within a framework of these four pillars: Prevention; Preparedness; Response; and Recovery.
1. Prevention: Risk Management planning
A risk management plan will help you to determine the risks to your business and the strategies you need to implement to minimise their impact.
2. Preparedness: Business Impact Analysis
A business impact analysis identifies activities that are critical to the survival of the business. It can also help you identify:
- the resources needed for those activities
- the impact if those activities were discontinued
- how long your business could go on without these activities.
3. Response: Incident Response Plan
This plan will contain everything you need to respond immediately before and after a disruptive event.
It may include a clear statement of the circumstances when the plan will be activated, such as a natural disaster. The plan can also identify which personnel will be critical in responding to an incident. A suitable backup should also be nominated in the plan.
Clear communication will be needed to keep everyone safe and get your business running again as soon as possible. So the plan should include up to date contact lists for:
- internal staff and their families
- emergency services
- external contacts (e.g. suppliers, customers).
4. Recovery plan
The recovery plan outlines the steps needed to take to get your business running again. It should try to foresee a realistic time frame in which to restore normal operations and minimise financial losses.
One further step should be taken to be sure your business continuity plan will remain effective — you should be able to test, evaluate and update your business continuity plan as your business and circumstances change.
Did you know that Karstens also offers business continuity plan services through our partner Continuity Matters? Click here to learn more.