Content Sponsored By:
A business continuity plan (BCP) will give you the best shot at success after an unanticipated event. Learn how you can create a BCP for your organization with this step-by-step guide to create a reliable plan that works. With a little creativity, dedication and planning, your organization will be on its way to a safer future in no time.
Business Continuity Planning 101: Your Questions, Answered
Before we begin, let’s look at the basics of business continuity planning. The following Q&A will help you gain a better understanding of this process and its importance.
What is a business continuity plan?
A “business continuity plan” (BCP) is a process that outlines the potential impact of disaster situations, creates policies to respond to them and helps businesses recover quickly so they can function as usual. A BCP is generally created in advance of a disaster and involves the company’s key stakeholders. The main goal of a BCP is to protect personnel and assets, both during and after an emergency.
What is an “emergency situation” in regards to a business continuity plan?
An emergency situation is an event where business cannot proceed under normal circumstances. This could consist of a natural event, like a fire, flood or tornado, but could also consist of scenarios such as a power outage, bomb threat, compliance breach, intruder or active shooter, cyberattack, employee injury, or a change in the chain of command. No matter the situation, businesses should review potential threats and devise a BCP to ensure that operations proceed should a threat become reality.
What does a business continuity plan include?
Business continuity plans are complex and differ from company to company. You’ll want to tailor your plan to your organization’s specific needs. Here are some general examples of what a BCP may include:
- Policy, purpose, and scope
- Goals and objectives
- Key roles and responsibilities
- Risk mitigation plans
- List of tasks required to keep operations flowing
- Explanation of where to go during an emergency
- Information on data backups and site backup
- Plan maintenance protocols
- Coordination with local emergency personnel
- Contact information of management personnel
Why do business continuity plans matter?
Business continuity plans are an important part of any business. Threats, disruptions, and disasters can lead to a loss in revenue and higher costs, which in turn can affect profitability. Businesses can’t always rely on insurance alone, as insurance doesn’t always cover every cost associated with the incident.
A proactive plan can also benefit a business in these three ways:
- The business will feel more prepared to handle the unexpected.
- The business will have a plan to continue providing acceptable service after the disaster.
- The business will better preserve its corporate reputation, image and revenue stream.
5 Steps To Building A Business Continuity Plan
Don’t wait until disaster strikes to create a response plan. If your organization does not yet have an effective business continuity plan, now is the time to create one. The effort involved is well worth your time and will give your company the best chance at survival after an unexpected event. Here are the five steps involved in establishing a basic business continuity plan for your organization.
Step 1: Form the business continuity management team.
Your organization’s business continuity team implements and executes the business continuity plan. The makeup of your team is dependent upon the size of your company and how you plan to roll out the program. At a minimum, your business continuity team should include a manager, assistant manager, and administrative assistant from each department.
These individuals will prepare standards for the project, train additional team members, and identify processes to make the project flow smoother.If your organization is medium or large in size, you’ll want to include additional personnel on the team and disperse responsibilities accordingly. Every organization is different, but in general, your business continuity team should have at least one representative from each department.
Step 2: Conduct a business impact analysis.
Once your team is assembled, the second step of business continuity planning is understanding the operational, financial, and physical risks to your company should a disruption occur. You can determine these types of risks through a “business impact analysis” (BIA).
At its core, an impact analysis helps organizations identify specific risks and threats to operations, financial performance, reputation, employees, and supply chains. A BIA is a great starting 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.
Business impact analyses are complex and typically require a comprehensive questionnaire to gather the information you’ll need. We’ve assembled a sample business impact analysis questionnaire, which will help you better identify critical business processes, interdependencies among stakeholders, supply chain dependencies, minimum time needed to recover operations, and minimum staffing required to support business as usual.Once you’ve received the completed questionnaire responses, review them and conduct follow-up interviews to validate information and fill any knowledge gaps.
Step 3: Identify resources needed with a gap analysis.
By now, your business continuity team has conducted an impact analysis, which identified and documented potential risks to your company in the wake of disaster. Your analysis may have revealed discrepancies between the resources you have and the resources you still need. This is where your team will want to conduct a “gap analysis.”
A gap analysis identifies a company’s recovery requirements versus its current resources. It also reveals recovery options and agreed-upon strategies. After your analysis in concluded, you’ll be ready to explore and implement recovery strategies.
Step 4: Explore and implement recovery strategies.
Knowing risks to your organization is important, but knowing how to react and recover is essential to bouncing back after an unanticipated event. Step four of business continuity planning does just this; it identifies recovery strategies for your business and describes how to implement them.
Once your business is impacted and financial losses begin to grow, it can be difficult to recover without a plan. To illustrate, discuss the following question samples with your team:
- If our facility or its equipment becomes damaged, how will we continue to meet the demand for products or services?
- Do we have a way to get HR, manufacturing, sales, and support personnel up and running after a disaster so we can continue making money?
- If our facilities are impacted by a natural disaster, will employees work from home or at an alternate location?
Concerns such as these will be addressed in your business continuity plan. For each disaster scenario compiled in your business impact analysis, discuss any questions and concerns you may have regarding the circumstance.
Did you know?
Accurate floor plans and building data are crucial elements of business continuity planning. This information must be shared with local emergency personnel so they know how (and where) to access your building during a crisis. The good news is that a data collection service and location-based space and asset mapping software work in tandem to deliver the following.
- Verify, update, and digitize your existing facility floor plans or recreate if none are available
- Collect room names, room numbers, room types, floor types, number of exterior doors per room, and square footage
- Locate all electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and fire and life safety equipment within a room
- Record asset make, model, manufacturer, and serial number
- Associate pertinent information to a single asset such as emergency shutdown procedures and O&M manuals
A data collection provider will expedite the implementation process by using cutting-edge technology to ensure accuracy and efficiency. The final deliverable is up-to-date floor plans, a cloud-based record of assets and an electronic documentation repository for O&M manuals, vendor information, and historical work orders.Step 5: Test results, present recommendations, and make improvements.
A business continuity plan is never truly finished, since an organization’s risks and requirements are never set in stone. Rather, they change and adapt as the business grows. It’s always a good idea to test your business continuity plan to make sure it is effective, observe results and make recommendations for improvement.
The subject of business continuity is expansive. With so many resources available on the internet, it can be difficult to know where to start. We recommend that you start by reading the benefits of facility management software for business continuity management.