What is Business Continuity Planning?
Business Continuity Planning helps a company identify potential threats to a business staying in business and offers help in planning for these events. A common business continuity plan will identify potential damage caused by building fires, local weather events, blackouts, or loss of suppliers. Business continuity plans are tailored specifically for each business and will over the decision makers in the company with alternatives to ensure that they can continue business in spite of events that occur outside of their control.
How To Use Business Continuity Planning for your Company
1. Identification of Important Staff
The first phase of writing a business continuity plan is to identify the weaknesses of your company. You must create a list of staff that your business cannot function without and their key duties and responsibilities. You will need to consider how your business can continue if you lose these people for short term or long term periods. In case of injury or sickness, you should consider investing in resources that will allow your key employees to contribute from home or other areas.
2. Documentation of Key Contacts and Emergency Lines
After identifying potential weaknesses from lost clients, you must document all contacts with suppliers, clients, and emergency contacts. Your suppliers and clients need to have an open line of communication in order to inform you of issues and likewise, you need to inform them of any changes or problems you are encountering. Emergency contacts should be listed and available to all employees, in order to assure that your building, products, and infrastructure is safe and secure. Communication is one of the easiest but most important part of business continuity planning.
3. Identification of Important Documents
After creating a list of emergency contact, you should identify all critical documents and contingency equipment. These items should be accounted for and secured in a safe place. You may need to access these items during an emergency, so ensure they are readily accessible and easily transported should you face physical dangers, such as evacuation or loss of your building.
4. Implementation of the Plan
Implementation is the last phase of business continuity planning and may require trial and error before it can be properly initiated. Changes that are recommended by the plan need to be put into place, and this may take extensive time and resources before the entire business continuity plan is fully realized. Additional assets may need to be sought, properties purchased, or the most common, insurance protection needs to be obtained and tailored for the specific risks that may occur. Insurance is a very important part of emergency planning for any company, but it must always be determined if their costs outweigh the potential benefits they may provide.
Maintaining and Updating your Business Continuity Plan
Business continuity plans often must be maintained and updated in order to stay relevant for a company. Companies evolve and change constantly and as a result, so do the potential risks and appropriate responses to those risks. Changes to staff, personnel, locations, clients, areas of focus, and growth can all lead to business continuity plans that may be inadequate or even improper for your current needs.
Some plans may even provide for testing and review, in which certain emergency situations are drilled and studied in order to determine how well the company copes with them. Therefore, to maintain your business continuity plan, you must schedule reviews every 6 months to 2 years, depending on how fluid your company may be. During each review period, you will need to identify the changes to your company and change the business continuity planning accordingly.