Best Strategies for Companies to Develop a Business Continuity Plan
For those unfamiliar with the five P's or "prior planning prevents poor performance," it is hard to overstate the importance of having contingencies in place if unforeseen events occur. Rather than relying on luck or happenstance, creating a business continuity plan will help ensure you can resume operations as soon as possible and get things back to an acceptable baseline. Learn more about the best strategies for companies to develop a business continuity plan and how these plans can help you in a difficult situation.
Determine the Possible Risks to Your Company with Business Impact Analysis
To make the best possible business continuity plan, you will first need to determine what risks your business will likely encounter and their impacts on normal operations. These risks could be anything from having a server room flood due to an environmental disaster, a major supplier of goods suddenly being out of products, a cybersecurity breach caused by hackers, and so on. You can only create an effective business continuity plan by understanding the potential issues and how they will negatively impact your company; then, you will be able to take appropriate actions to address them. These plans can and should include the possible impacts on your business, including how much it would cost to replace equipment, the estimated time needed to resume normal operations, and what the adverse effects will be while your company recovers.
You Should Plan Out Your Responses in Detail for Maximum Effect
A business continuity plan can only be effective when you take the data from a business impact analysis and use it to either entirely prevent or minimize incidents from happening in the first place. The most efficient means of doing so involves laying out who needs to be involved and their assigned activities to ensure that operations will be carried out efficiently and effectively. In addition to clearly outlining who has which role and responsibilities, the business continuity plan should also account for the resources needed to accomplish particular tasks and include estimated timelines for making the response as efficient as possible.
Having Clearly Defined Roles and Responsibilities Saves Time and Panic
As mentioned above, having everyone know what to do in the event of a business emergency is critical to getting everything fixed as quickly and easily as possible. Depending on the size and scope of your business, you may need to include everyone from senior management to junior staff members and make sure that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities. Once you have defined these in your business continuity plan, you can allocate resources to specific team members, putting higher-priority tasks ahead of less meaningful activities. Examples might include having someone in charge of distributing mobile devices, laptops, and smartphones if a remote office needs to be established.
Good Communication Strategies Are Essential for Staff and Social Media
Should your business suffer an unexpected catastrophe that leaves you in the lurch, a well-made business communications plan can save you a great deal of time and money. Examples of relevant communication strategies include having a list of vendors and suppliers to contact to avoid wasting money on orders without proper storage or sending out a company-wide email informing customers that you are experiencing technical difficulties. You could also prepare some prewritten documents to be used on various social media platforms or even press releases depending on how well-known your business happens to be.
Depending on your company's overall size and complexity, it may be necessary for you to create multiple communication strategies to help guarantee that everyone who needs to be informed can get the relevant information. By taking the time to establish a communication network with multiple redundancies and having a clear idea of who is responsible for spreading any information, you can get things back on track as soon as possible.
Consider Using Training and Testing to See If Your Plan Will Meet Your Needs
Much like the saying that no plan survives first contact with the enemy, there is no way to know whether you have an effective business continuity plan in place without putting it to the test. Even if everything is neatly laid out in an easy-to-understand manner, the stress of a sudden crisis can throw people off their usual performance and result in unnecessary delays and friction between team members. Regardless of the size of your company, you should strongly consider educating your staff about the importance of the business continuity plan and how they can help serve active and useful roles during times of stress.
One of the best and easiest ways to do this is to go beyond raising awareness and start leading your employees through a simulated exercise. A run-through will help determine if your business continuity plan has considered all factors or whether it could benefit from additional notes and changes. Regular training sessions will make your workers much more comfortable in the event of a genuine problem and increase their self-confidence in learning how they can help the company directly. By taking the time to review and improve your continuity plan continually, your business and its employees will only stand to benefit.
While no one standard business continuity plan can be universally applied, these strategies will help you develop a plan that works best for your organization. Review your plan regularly to make sure you are prepared for the unexpected.
About Dan Martin: Daniel Martin is a technology researcher and writer with more than a decade of experience. He is a professional librarian and an experienced tech teacher, writer and blogger. Specializing in technology, Dan has taught courses in technology and writing at the college level, developed web pages for businesses and higher educational institutions, written on tech topics for leading national publications and created numerous how-to guides.