Earlier this year COVID-19 spread across the globe. Governments, businesses, schools, and other parts of society have had to shut down or modify how they function. Many businesses scrambled to catch up with the changes so they could survive. So much has changed: employees started working from home, remote access is a necessity, communication looks different. Businesses have been scrambling for emergency fuel to keep them moving forward during this time.
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
Fire, flood, tornados, power outage, cyber attack, employee injury, or other major events are all examples of unexpected events that can drastically impact a business. Interruptions like these can cost a company time, money, and energy. It is essential for businesses, especially for small businesses, to create a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in order to think ahead of such events in which they will need that emergency fuel to help keep them going.
So what is most important when building a Business Continuity Plan? Businesses must analyze, create a strategy for recovery, develop a plan, organize, and test and train.
Business Impact Analysis
It is important for businesses to consider the financial and operational risks of an unexpected event. A team of people need to identify the priorities of restoration within the business after an event. The priorities are listed according to those things that have greatest impact on the business. Impact can be in relation to time, money, or effort to get the business back to full capacity. Once priorities are identified, a point can be identified when financial or operational loss will start to occur and the impact it will have within the business. Lastly, the resources affected will also need to be considered, analyzed, and prioritized.
Create a Strategy for Recovery
The Business Impact Analysis is used to create a strategy for recovery since it identifies parts of the business that are the priority. Strategies need to consider the resources affected including: employees, facilities, furniture, equipment, technology, machinery, inventory on hand, utilities, and the use of third-party services involved with the business. How can a business recover effectively and efficiently with the resources (time, money, people, and energy) at its disposal?
Develop a Plan
Developing a plan is the process of putting an order of what will need to happen first, second, third, etc. in the event of a business needing recovery from an event. A plan should be clearly written and available when needed.
Organize a Recovery Team
If a business has need to use its Business Continuity Plan, it is important there is a group of people assigned to help the business efficiently follow through with the plan. These individuals need to be knowledgeable about the plan itself but also in how the business functions. Each person on the team needs to be aware of their role and the role as a team so that there won’t be any confusion when there is need to enact the plan.
Test and Train
The plan and the Recovery Team must take the time to test the plan itself. It is often hard to see the holes in plans until there is some kind of testing. Maybe something in the plan will need to be tweaked so that it will work more smoothly and initially assessed. If this is found to be the case, then the team and those involved with the development of the plan need to make those changes.
In addition, employees need to be trained on how to use the plan, who is on the recovery team, and what his or her specific role may be in the event that the plan needs to be used. A plan is not very helpful and useful if no one is trained in following through.
A Business Continuity Plan is essential to make sure that any small business has the emergency fuel it needs to survive in the event of any surprises. Just like a plane must account for an emergency and have an extra amount of fuel to help, a business also needs to be forward thinking and planning for the possibility of an event that will interrupt its business. If these events are not considered or planned for, it may cost a business more money, time, and effort then if it did have a plan in the first place.