When business is disrupted by a crisis, like a pandemic, it can cost money. Developing a Business Continuity Plan can provide strategies to minimize the effects of the disruption to your business. Investopedia defines a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) as “the process involved in creating a system of prevention and recovery from potential threats to a company.” The most effective BCP is designed before a crisis to ensure that personnel and assets remain protected during the disruption.
In times of crisis, organizations employing their BCP must also be comfortable amending those plans based on evolving events. Having an agile plan can help with that. This article will cover the five main steps of creating a business continuity plan to aid in stabilizing organization function and protecting your organization from future disruptions.
Organizations assess and manage risks daily in order to prepare for or mitigate threats. This particular risk assessment will narrow the focus to risks associated with a potential interruption in regular business operations. This risk assessment will likely include the following categories:
- Evaluation of the organization’s risks and exposures
- Determination of the most likely threat scenarios
- Prioritization of findings
Business Impact Analysis
Following the Risk Assessment, organizations will be in a position to perform an informed Business Impact Analysis. “A business impact analysis (BIA) predicts the consequences of disruption of a business function and process and gathers information needed to develop recovery strategies.” (Ready.gov) Business disruption scenarios can include events such as physical damage to a building, interruption of a supply chain, utility outage, diminished access to essential employees, and more. During this BIA, take the opportunity to survey leaders within the organization who have detailed knowledge of how the organization functions. These surveys may include executives as well as middle and lower management to get a full understanding of the organization’s processes and needs. Use this information to establish which functions, resources, and procedures are critical to continued operation at different levels in the organization. FEMA provides an operational and financial impact worksheet to help run a business continuity analysis. Identifying and evaluating the potential impact of disasters on an organization’s ability to function provides the basis for investment in recovery strategies.
TIP: BoardBookit’s survey feature would be the perfect tool to collect and organize responses from leadership throughout the organization.
In the Recovery planning process, organizations must identify steps to restore vital support systems and resources that allow the organization to function. Recovery may include measures like relocation of personnel or equipment, mobilizing resources, or the introduction of temporary manual processes. Utilize your employees and their collective knowledge. Out of the box ideas may be just what you need for a future crisis. Employees love to share “war stories;” you may have employees who have weathered corporate disruption before and can offer valuable insight and solutions. Consider how you can leverage digital tools to serve your company’s needs in the face of disruption.
Strategy and Plan Organization
At this stage of building your BCP, teams will need to write everything down and compile it together. The organization of your plan will be dictated by the sectors or departments of your company and their needs. CIO shares these six general steps to laying out your BCP
- “Identify the scope of the plan.
- Identify key business areas.
- Identify critical functions.
- Identify dependencies between various business areas and functions.
- Determine acceptable downtime for each critical function.
- Create a plan to maintain operations.”
Another crucial step of laying out an effective BCP is to document all manual workarounds. When they’ll need to happen, how and by whom. This section of your plan will answer the most questions if your organization ever has to implement your BCP. Having these planned out before an emergency hits will decrease the amount of confusion and possible panic your employees will experience.
Testing, Training, and Maintenance
As with any new implementation, the BCP’s success is directly tied to how well the team understands it. Training the continuity team should involve practices, tests, and exercises to ensure that everyone is comfortable with the plan and strategies. CIO shares, “Many organizations test a business continuity plan two to four times a year. The schedule depends on your type of organization, the amount of turnover of key personnel, and the number of business processes and IT changes that have occurred since the last round of testing. Common tests include table-top exercises, structured walk-throughs, and simulations. Test teams are usually composed of the recovery coordinator and members from each functional unit.”
As your organization grows and changes, your Business Continuity Plan will also need to change. Ensure your BCP is well maintained and matches the current operations of your organization.
BoardBookit as Part of Your Business Continuity Plan
As an industry-leading board portal, BoardBookit provides a portal to connect and collaborate with leaders and employees virtually. With a robust suite of communication tools, BoardBookit keeps organizations running smoothly during a crisis. Start a conversation today to make BoardBookit part of your business continuity plan.
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