“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” – Alexander Graham Bell
When things feel out of control, relying on a backup plan can bring serious relief and peace of mind. Creating a business continuity plan, or BCP, can help. It helps to think of your plans as a form of insurance – they can guide you out of uncertainty and back onto the path to success. During especially uncertain times, a business continuity plan checklist can feel even more useful.
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
Business continuity planning allows stakeholders to create systems of prevention and recovery from possible threats to the organization. Plans can protect assets, shield personnel, and ensure the survivability of the business during times of uncertainty. Typically conceived well in advance of any hardship, a business continuity plan helps to define risk and build a bridge back to stability. Risks can include natural disasters, cyberattacks, pandemics or anything that might threaten the health and viability of your organization.
An important part of any successful company, a business continuity plan can prevent severe drops in profitability. Since organizations can’t rely solely on insurance policies to cover the costs and loss of customer base that so often accompanies hard times, advanced planning is highly necessary. Here are a few must-haves to include in your organization’s business continuity plan:
Consideration of Potential Threats
Your organization’s response to a crisis may depend on the nature of the disaster itself. Should a tornado whip through town and destroy your IT infrastructure, for instance, your response will look quite different than if a power outage temporarily shuts down your phone lines. It can be hard to conceive of the inconceivable, but if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that business continuity plans for pandemics, natural disasters, and other crises are more valuable than ever. Plan for the worst and you’ll never be caught completely off guard.
It’s not enough to just acknowledge potential threats. A good business continuity plan will also include a detailed impact analysis of those threats. Predictions and forecasts can help you understand the long and short term effect a particular disaster might have on your organization. While it’s difficult to identify the unknowns in advance, merely exploring thought experiments can help provide insight into the possibilities.
Should your worst case scenario arise, who will be responsible for carrying out your business continuity plan? Knowing who is doing what, when and why is a huge component of the plan. Establishing a clear chain of command can help, but without written documentation of assigned duties, power struggles and finger pointing may emerge between department heads. Since some types of disasters may result in the sidelining of key employees, it’s also important to create backup plans for your backup plans. Assign duties now and train your entire team on how to respond should the need arise.
Many organizations opt to create sub-teams to put their business continuity plans into effect. The command team level can include both a crisis management committee and a recovery management team. A group to manage the implementation of these plans is also highly necessary. For task-oriented teams, consider your goals. Some organizations use their resources to deploy public relations teams, but if that’s not a priority, a mechanical team, IT team, or transport team may be more relevant.
Emergency Contact Information and Data Backups
You know how to reach your team when you need them, but in case of an emergency, do you know which family members they’d prefer you to contact? Your human resources department may handle these details upon hiring new employees, but if there’s only one copy of these details, you could have a serious headache on your hands. One of the most important business continuity planning steps is to make backups of such information and share it across applicable departments.
While you’re gathering employee emergency information, it may help to store the details off-site with other important business data. In some cases, your physical hard drives might be unrecoverable after a disaster. Having a remote site for your data is crucial, which is why so many business continuity planning templates include this step in their recommendations.
Plans to Maintain Operations
This section should be amongst the most detailed portions of your plans. Create detailed plans for each department so each employee will know what is expected of them in an emergency. Should your daily operations remain viable during a pandemic or natural disaster, you’ll want to outline your policies and procedures for both employees and customers. Your plans may evolve or change as things stabilize, so factor phases and stages into your plans as well.
Since your business continuity plan for continued operations should be the most robust section of your plan, it is worth doing some trial runs to see what needs improvements. Come up with some disaster scenarios and test your plan against them. Note where the cracks are so you can circle back and patch them up. This will make sure you are ready when disaster truly strikes.
Your Partner During Uncertain Times
The road to recovery may not always be clear, but with a business continuity plan in place, your team will be one step closer to normalcy. The right resources make all the difference during especially uncertain times. MAP Communications offers business continuity call center services for all types of emergency circumstances to ensure your communications stay intact. While we may not be able to predict the future, we can help you set your organization up for stability in the event business as usual is not an option.
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