From limiting the damage, minimising the interruptions and ensuring that your employees are responsive, to arranging alternatives, there are several reasons why a good business continuity plan is a must for every organisation.
Check this post for important tips on how to create a valuable business continuity plan.
1. Understand Your Risks
The first step of building a business continuity plan is to understand thoroughly the potential risks that can affect your product or service delivery. These could be fire, floods, cyberattack or theft that could affect the business assets, operations or the personnel. These risks are then analysed financially to help the business prioritise critical steps to be taken in case of a disruption.
While it is not possible to plan for every risk, you should at least be aware of the financial impact any disruption could result in.
2. Disaster Recovery Plan
This is a key component of your business continuity plan. When events like cyber attack, thefts or acts of God strike, your IT assets, data and infrastructure are at serious risk. How to get them working when a disaster strikes is what your disaster recovery plan must detail.
Apart from power backup, the contingency plan needs to provide for alternate communication channels for both consumers as well as businesses, in the event of a disaster. Storing data backups in remote locations and accessing them to keep the business going is crucial. All aspects of the disaster recovery plan for data as well as assets need to be continually tested when the business is as usual.
3. Creating an Emergency Team
Once you have understood the risks and analysed their financial impacts, start working on an emergency team. Each member of the team should clearly understand his/her responsibilities in case an emergency occurs.
You can select an already established team or committee or form one with a few individuals and managers. Make sure that the team clearly understands the objectives of your organisation during an emergency, and they have a reliable process for taking effective decisions during such testing times.
4. Arranging Alternatives
If a disruption somehow disables or shuts down the entire production or standard operation, your continuity plan should have the required alternative. Make a note of all the employees who are essential to your business functions as the recovery can only begin when you have the right people.
For instance, if there is a power outage in your manufacturing unit due to a storm, the managers should be able to go to the continuity plan to know the steps for accessing and using generators for continuing the production.
5. Creating the Continuity Plan
Begin by accessing the vulnerable aspects of the business. Chart out the financial damages the business could face if the processes come to a halt.
If at all any disaster strikes, this plan should help you get through it without causing any significant inconvenience to your business operations.
When writing the plan, make sure that everything is concise, clear and easy to understand.
For instance, if there is a cyber attack, the plan should clearly include information that explains who are the emergency responders. It should explicitly mention where the data backups and site backups are. It will also detail access to a backup Internet network and a step-by-step guide to disaster recovery, what resources will be needed, as well as detailed information about the equipment, support and facilities that will be required during a cyber attack.
6. Testing the Business Continuity Plan
You can only know whether or not your continuity plan works by testing it. While the working can be genuinely understood only during an actual emergency, controlled testing is also an excellent way to know the preparedness of your employees and identify the gaps, which can then be improved.
The plan should be tested rigorously and regularly, every two years or so, to make sure that it is complete and it fulfils the intended purpose. Some popular ways of testing the business continuity plan include disaster simulation, table-top exercise and structured walk-through.
It is a good practice to include a fresh set of people in the test team during every phase of testing.
If your business does not have a business continuity plan, start working on one today. To prepare for such interruptions, many businesses also prefer working with a single service provider for a host of their business needs. This foresight allows them to eliminate the numerous hassles of dealing with multiple vendors when a disaster strikes.
Several organisations rely on SmartOffice business connectivity solution offered by Tata Tele Business Services. It is a single box solution that provides businesses with access to voice, data, storage, and apps. Easy to deploy, the product is highly affordable and makes it effortless for you to stay prepared for any unexpected emergencies.