Fire … flooding… rainstorms … power outages. If disaster struck your business today, would you be in business tomorrow? Having a comprehensive business continuation plan in place before catastrophe strikes will increase the probability of your firm’s survival, mitigating damages, and restoring normal operations more rapidly.
Developing an effective business continuation process involves five key steps:
- Assemble all information relevant to your business.
- Identify important risks to which your operations are exposed.
- For each of these critical business activities, set minimum acceptable periods of downtime and levels of service degradation.
- Create a disaster-management team.
- Have the team draft a plan, with the cooperation of managers from each department.
To help identify the elements of the plan and develop it, use a planning template. Most businesses can draw up effective plans from templates that use word-processing software. Be sure to determine whether the planning package covers every aspect of your business; some focus almost entirely on information technology.
The larger and more complex your operations, the greater your need for professional services. If you have a large data center, complex manufacturing equipment, or hazardous materials, you should definitely bring in a consultant. Although a small business in a service industry might not need a professional to create an effective plan, it should hire one to review it. These reviews are inexpensive and can easily correct serious flaws before disaster strikes.
Once you’ve implemented your business continuation plan, it’s never really “finalized.” Plans will always require periodic reviews and updates. It’s also wise to test at least certain aspects of the program. These checks will often uncover the need for additional details and adjustments.
Our risk management professionals would be happy to share their expertise in helping you develop an “ounce of prevention” business continuation plan you can use to keep your operations up and running. Feel free to call or e-mail us for assistance.