Between severe storms, earthquakes, floods and fires, there are a scary number of natural disasters and unfortunate events that can bring your business operations to a crippling halt. That’s why you need a business continuity plan.
So, what is a Business Continuity Plan?
A Business Continuity Plan is essentially the answer to the question, “How will we continue working if we lose power or access to our business?” While it seems like a simple question, it is in fact very involved. There are many day-to-day operations that are easy to overlook. And although they’re vital to your business, you don’t know their true value until they’re gone. To keep this painful realization from occurring, we recommend conducting a thorough Business Impact Analysis.
"We recommend conducting a thorough Business Impact Analysis."
Conduct a Business Impact Analysis
The first step is to identify time-sensitive or critical business functions and processes. This is known as a Business Impact Analysis (BIA). The purpose of the analysis is to help business owners prioritize the business functions that are most important to day-to-day operations.
Depending on the size of the organization, business owners may want to enlist some help in completing the business impact analysis. The Department of Homeland Security has a helpful BIA questionnaire for business owners to print off and distribute to managers.
Appoint a Business Continuity Task Force
Every business is different. Business owners may not even fully realize all of the planning that must take place in an effective business continuity plan. In most modern businesses, information technology (IT) can be the highest hurdle to clear – networks, desktops, laptops, wireless devices, data and connectivity. It’s recommended that all businesses form a Business Continuity Task force that includes members from all departments – especially one representative from the IT department.
The purpose of the task force is to explore all of the business functions and processes that must be maintained in the instance of a shutdown – whether it’s a three-hour power outage, a weeklong shutdown, or several months out of office.
Conducting the BIA and forming the task force is crucial. Once those steps have been completed, make sure that everything is written down and shared with the staff. In the event of an emergency, it will be extremely helpful to have a staff that already knows the backup plan. Even knowing that there is a backup plan will help alleviate a lot of the anxiety that occurs when business is disrupted.
Our final piece of advice is to practice your Business Continuity Plan and to update the plan when processes change or new systems are added. Practicing your plan helps work out any kinks. It also familiarizes your staff with the plan and allows them to provide feedback. And as your business evolves, so must your continuity plan. We recommend revisiting the plan at least once a year. Once the plan is updated, run another drill to work out the kinks and educate your staff. It’s always better to have a Business Continuity Plan and not need it rather than to need a plan and not have one. Your customers, employees and your bottom line will be thankful that you planned ahead.
If you need more help developing a plan for your business, there’s a wealth of information and planning materials online at Ready.gov. We encourage you to check them out. If you have any specific questions or need help mitigating risk at your workplace, contact us. From construction to healthcare and manufacturing, our expertise is reducing risk and keeping employees safe in all work environments.