Business continuity planning involves planning, documenting and testing how your organization would continue functioning with the least amount of disruption for clients and employees, in the event of an unforeseen disaster. While no company ever wants to have to implement their business continuity plan (BCP), it’s important to be deliberate and thoughtful about creating one.
For businesses in some industries (financial services, for example), creating a BCP isn’t optional; it’s mandatory. Regardless of whether you’re required by law to create a BCP or simply recognize the inherent value in BCP planning, it’s important to tailor your plan to your business.
If you need to create a BCP, or need to refresh an existing BCP for your company, follow these tips designed to help you get the most out of your planning:
- Plan for big, and small, disruptions. Sure, it’s important to plan for how your business would continue in the event of a hurricane, flood, tornado or even a terrorist attack in your city. However, it’s also important to remember that other, more mundane things could trip up your business (server error, software upgrade issue, etc.)
- Consider downtimes. How much downtime is acceptable for each of the systems your organization uses? You’ll need to prioritize key systems and functions ahead of secondary systems or tools. However, don’t look at each system in a vacuum; you’ll also need to make sure that system dependencies are taken into consideration. Your plan should include levels, and speeds, of response to unforeseen disruptions or outages.
- Identify roles and responsibilities. In the event a disaster of any magnitude occurs, things will likely be chaotic. Make sure your BCP identifies who (by role, not employee name) is responsible for handling key tasks, and what the line of succession is if the first-named person is unavailable.
- Include contact information. If you need to put your BCP into action, communication will be important. Make sure your BCP includes contact information and a calling tree for employees, vendors and key third-parties. Remember that you won’t be able to count on an online directory or a
- Communication is key. The best BCP in the world will be useless if your employees don’t know you have one, or where they can find it. After it’s created, make sure to distribute and explain the importance of your BCP to all employees (not just IT personnel.)
- Test, test, test. It’s not enough to just have a BCP in place; you need to make sure what you’ve planned on paper will actually work if and when the time comes. Train IT personnel and management, then test different aspects of your plan on a continuing basis. When you identify a sticking point or something that just isn’t working the way you thought it would, reevaluate and adjust your BCP.
No matter how big or small your company is, you need to have a BCP in place so that you can minimize disruptions to your operations, no matter what happens. To learn more about BCP planning, download Waypoint Solutions’s Group’s free eGuide, Staying Alive: The Definitive Guide to Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery for Small Businesses.