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Risk Management Bulletin

What is a Continuity of Operations Plan

By July 1, 2016No Comments

rr-july16-1Is your small business prepared if a natural disaster, equipment malfunction or other unforeseen event disrupts daily operation? A Continuity of Operation Plan or COOP analyzes your business, identifies critical resources, personnel and weaknesses, and outlines a contingency plan. You need a COOP to protect your business’s future, and these tips help you create one today.

Do a Business Impact Analysis

When creating a COOP, start by doing a Business Impact Analysis (BIA). It removes all the layers in your business until you only have the absolute necessities required for your company to continue operating. Consider your personnel, finances, operations, ordering and distribution as you do the BIA.

Assess the Risks

After you identify your company’s BIA, make a list of risks, threats and hazards your business faces. Those risks will be unique to your area and could include natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes or floods, equipment malfunctions, data breaches or illnesses of key employees.

With your list of risks, you can create contingency plans that account for the worst-case scenarios and ensure your business can remain operational. As an example, let’s say you rely on two key pieces of heavy equipment that sit outside. Plan to store those machines in an alternative location nearby during hurricane season so that they’re protected and available to you if bad weather strikes.

Plan for Resiliency

The most successful businesses are resilient in the face of adversity. Your business can be, too, as you prepare for potential risks, threats and disasters, but resilience requires planning. Depending on your BIA, you may need to take these steps as you prepare for anything.

    • Cross-train employees to cover necessary duties if your key people are unable to come to work.
    • Decentralize operations of key tasks to ensure at least parts of your business are up and running when disaster strikes.
    • Have another location on-call in case you can’t access your building.
    • Back up critical data at least once a day to prevent loss.
    • Store records online or in a separate location to decrease the risk of a data breach.
    • Know how to reach key employees and customers any time day or night.
    • Protect your equipment or prepare back-up equipment if yours is damaged or inaccessible.
    • Open a financial account with emergency money to cover operations in the event you cannot access your regular accounts.

Your Continuity of Operations Plan can keep your business operational in the face of disasters and emergencies. When preparing your COOP, talk to your insurance agent. He or she can help you write a comprehensive list of threats and risks, assist you in creating a plan that addresses those issues and increase your business’s likelihood of surviving adversity.