In such unprecedented times, many businesses are reeling from the impact of the coronavirus and the ensuing economic downturn. It’s a time that has forced many to reconsider how they operate, how they structure their businesses, and how prepared they might be for another crisis. That’s where are business continuity plan comes into play. Preparing your business so that it can continue to function, even during an unforeseen crisis, can help you weather most storms and avoid setbacks to your growth.
What Is A Business Continuity Plan?
A continuity plan describes an outline of the procedures your business has in place to prevent setbacks, maintain your course of action and recover to normal operations during a crisis. That crisis could be anything from a power cut or an office fire, all the way up to a natural disaster or a national emergency; the more broadly applicable the better. Often it’s not the crisis that causes the most damage but people’s reaction to it, therefore one key aim of a BCP is to limit panic. If your staff is confident your business has a well-thought-out procedure to follow in disastrous circumstances, they’ll be more likely to act calmly and help solve the problem quickly.
Types Of Crisis
A well-crafted BCP can account for a wide range of disasters with potentially very different consequences. Terri Gross, a BC manager at Draftbeyond and Last Minute Writing, points out that “not all disasters are created equal. For example, a forest fire might prevent you from accessing your building but will leave your cloud computing intact, whilst a cybersecurity attack might be invisible on the ground but deeply threatening to your network. Creating a solid business continuity plan is about anticipating the wide range of threats to your business and implementing policies to defend against them.”
Writing Your BCP
A BCP is more than a bullet-point list of disasters and a map to the fire escape. These documents are often extensive and shared amongst staff for their reference. A strong BCP will contain most, if not all, of the following elements:
It’s all well and good saying your plan is to survive whatever crisis comes your way, but what does that mean in practice? What specifically are the goals of your business continuity plan?
Cheri Tross, a business writer at Writinity and Researchpapersuk, highlights that “In order to plan in detail, a company-wide BCP is often impractical. You may find separate departments have different requirements and responsibilities when it comes to protecting resources or defending against threats.”
Think about the specific goals of each department or worker, and how they will differ depending on the threat. Finally, create some milestone goals that will give you an indication of where you are in terms of your goals.
A BCP will not materialize out of thin air, it requires work and time, and investment. For that reason, it’s important to consider how much you are willing to invest in your plan. This is not just in terms of physical protections, but also in work hours and training. Determining your investment will be, to some degree, determined by the perceived level of threat. If you’re located in Idaho you likely won’t need to invest much time in tsunami protection. It pays to be cautious, but also be realistic about what kind of crises you’re likely to face.
- A BCP Team
A plan is nothing without responsible people to implement it. That’s why a good BCP plan is enforced by a dedicated BCP team. These workers might not necessarily be purely responsible for implementing crisis plans, they might be elected individuals across different departments, but they should nonetheless be the go-to person for knowledge and action before, during, and after a crisis. They should therefore receive enhanced training and certification in certain key skills.
- Business Knowledge
Beyond these initial steps, the BCP should be specific to your business. That means researching your particular strengths and weaknesses, your crucial functions, and the potential impact of a crisis. It might help to order functions from low to high importance and impacts from low to high severity.
Ashley Halsey is a professional writer at Glasgow Writing Service and Gumessays.com. She has been involved in many business continuity projects throughout the country. She enjoys webinars, reading, and attending business training courses.