Regardless of the best of plans for a business, there are roadblocks along the way that wasn’t even planned from the outset. This is one reality business owners have had to grapple with for centuries. How have successful businesses been able to find their way around storms of this nature? The availability of a business continuity plan. Without this, an organization can struggle to recover, or worse, go out of business for good when faced with hard times.
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
A business continuity plan is a plan that summarizes the potential impact of stormy situations that could crop up, creates policies to respond to them if they ever happen, and helps businesses recover quickly so they can pick up and get going again within the shortest time possible. A business continuity plan will give the management of a business the best shot at success after an unanticipated event.
To help protect your business from these dire consequences you need to understand the essential features of a business continuity plan and then put up one that will be effective for your business.
This is a step-by-step guide to help you learn how to create a reliable BCP plan that works for your organization. All it takes is a little creativity, dedication, and planning, then your organization will be on its way to a safer future in no time.
What is in a Business Continuity Plan?
One basic thing to note about a business continuity plan is that no BCP is exactly the same for two businesses. The reason for this is clearly because it is structured according to the unique structure of the business. To this end, managers in charge of a business continuity plan are fond of tailoring it to their organization’s specific needs.
Nonetheless, there are some key elements that form the structure of a solid business continuity plan. They are –
- Goals and objectives
- Information on data backups and site backup
- List of tasks required to keep operations flowing
- Policy, purpose, and scope
- Plan maintenance protocols
- Key roles and responsibilities
- Explanation of where to go during an emergency
- Coordination with local emergency personnel
- Contact information of management personnel
- Risk mitigation plans
Steps to Building a Business Continuity Plan
It is wrong to wait for a disaster to strike before drafting a BCP. The best time to create a BCP was yesterday, the better time to do it is now. Further delay might make it less effective if it is needed in the future. If you are yet to prepare an effective business continuity plan for your enterprise, here are five steps involved in establishing a basic business continuity plan for your organization.
- Set up a business continuity management team.
- Conduct a business impact analysis.
- Isolate needed resources with a gap analysis.
- Explore and implement recovery strategies.
- Update the plan continuously.
Set up a business continuity management team
This is essential especially if you run anything other than a sole proprietorship. You need to get some of the best heads in your enterprise together and be clear to them about what you are trying to do. Your organization’s business continuity team is going to be responsible for the drafting and execution of the business continuity plan.
To say the least, your business continuity team should include a manager, assistant manager, and administrative assistant from each department of your enterprise. These individuals will be responsible for setting the pace for the project. They will set an all-inclusive environmental consciousness for every staff of the enterprise by training additional team members and identify processes to make the project swift, smooth, and successful.
Owners of big business organization with a much higher possibility of situations that could lead to the implementation of a business continuity plan are advised to take it more seriously. They can do this by recruiting staff specifically for the purpose of ensuring a smooth business continuity plan. In any case, it is crucial that your business continuity team should have at least one representative from each department of your business enterprise.
Conduct a business impact analysis
After setting up a team of the right persons, the next thing to do in the line of setting up a functional business continuity plan is to understand the risk your company stands to incur in the face of disruption. This will reflect better when you do a “business impact analysis” (BIA). It is an exercise that identifies the types of risks your business is susceptible to and how likely it will materialize.
This includes financial performance, reputation, employees, and supply chains. BIA remains a great reference point for risk identification and assessment. Have your team brainstorm a list of risks and threats to your business. Once you’ve created a list of potential risks to your organization, discuss how these risks could affect operations.
Going by the requirements of conducting a BIA, it is clear to see that business impact analysis is not a simple exercise. Rather, it poses a reasonable degree of complexity. This is why it usually involves the preparation of a comprehensive questionnaire that helps in gathering all the needed information. Once this has been completed, questionnaire responses should be reviewed. If there is a perceived discrepancy in the acquired information, some sort of follow-up interviews should be conducted to validate the acquired information.
Isolate needed resources with a gap analysis
After the conclusion of a BIA by your business continuity team, you will have identified and documented potential risks to your company in the event of a disaster. In turn, your analysis is likely to expose the discrepancies between the resources you have and the resources you still need to get the job done. To fix this gap, your team will have to conduct a gap analysis.
This is an exercise that pinpoints a company’s recovery requirements and puts it against its current resources. After the conclusion of the analysis, you and your team are now in a good position to explore and implement recovery strategies.
Explore and implement recovery strategies
This is the final stage of the execution of a solid business continuity plan. It is one thing to identify risks to your organization. However, what is more, important is what to do when it happens. This is what determines the recovery drive of your business after a surprising setback. So, this final step involves the identification of viable recovery strategies for your business and describes how to activate them successfully.
Update the plan continuously
If you feel a business continuity plan is a one-time process, then you need to think again. The truth is; a business continuity plan is never truly finished. There will be a need for mild adjustments from time to time. You would agree that an organization’s risks and requirements change and adapt as the business grows. To this end, it is only right that you test your business continuity plan to make sure it is effective from time to time.
Business continuity plans are an important part of any business that wants to survive unexpected downturns. The COVID 19 pandemic is a big lesson in this regard. Many businesses without a business continuity plan have gone down the drain ever since it swept the world like a grand tsunami. However, businesses with a continuity plan have bounced back faster and better since the world opened up.
It is scary to admit that there is a possibility of a second wave that will bring about another lockdown. Now is the best time to come up with a viable business continuity plan for your business. This will put your business in an advantaged position against another lockdown or any other unexpected downturn.