A business continuity plan is much more than just a disaster recovery plan that lets you know which insurance agent to call after your business has been struck by a fire, vandal or theft. It’s about knowing how your organization is going to keep moving forward and overcome any disruption no matter the cause. ESG, a consultancy group focused on storage and information management, found that 63% of organizations could withstand only four hours or less of downtime before experiencing adverse affects to the business. Do you know what the impact even a minor interruption of service would have on your business (and how to mitigate it) even if it was just for a few hours?

A strong business continuity plan will always consider, and answer, the following questions:

1. What risks are most likely to affect your organization in your geographical area?

Think about the seasons of your location. If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, you know how heavy rainfall can slow traffic to a crawl. If you live in an area with regular power outages in the summer, do you have backup plans and standard operations Are you prepared for things like:

  • Staff members to come in late in the case of heavy snow or rainfall?
  • Server shutdowns caused by rolling blackout/strained electrical grids?
  • Updating your website if your network is disabled?

2. Are there at least two staff members who know how to carry out each key job?

It’s unrealistic to believe a key individual will never get sick or go on a vacation. You need to make sure your team has the flexibility and agility to carry on whenever a key member is out of the office. Would your organization be able to operately effectively without key personnel around?

  • Who will communicate with management and other stakeholders?
  • What will your organizational response be if key leaders are incapacitated or unavailable?
  • Who will be in charge of contacting insurance agents?
  • Who will speak to the media?
  • How will you handle payroll?

3. Is your organization able to operate effectively when key locations are closed?

Communication blackouts do happen and can be caused by a number of things like power outages, service provider disruptions or even international holidays.

  • How will you communicate with your staff if mobile phone, landline and other communications networks are destroyed?
  • How will you locate employees to share crucial information with them?
  • How will you manage critical personnel data, such as emergency contact information, user IDs and network passwords, if systems are down or destroyed?
  • How will you communicate with your client and vendors?

4. Is physical information backed up?

Even though we’ve entered the digital age, there’s still plenty of information being passed around on paper. Is there a plan in place that will keep your company running smoothly if your physical records management have been compromised?

5. Does your business continuity plan work? 

Having a business continuity plan is a great first step!

  • But was the planning team made of appropriate members?
  • Have all of your organization’s business continuity bases been covered? Do you have an internal audit team?
  • Has the audit team reviewed the plan for deficiencies?
  • Has your organization conducted scenario testing of your plan, such as a simulation of a terrorist bomb attack on your organization’s headquarters, or simulation of a virus attack bringing down the network?

 

For detailed worksheets that will help you create and test a viable business continuity plan, download our new e-book, “The Ultimate Guide to Business Continuity Planning” today!

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