Disasters come in all shapes and sizes: severe weather, burst pipes, server failures, fires, or even the flu — and can all too often result in an unprepared business having to close its doors. Risk managers will advise that one of the best ways to make sure your business can reopen quickly – and stay successful – after a disaster is to develop a business continuity plan.
- Disaster preparedness: A listing of the types of events that might hurt your business, how large a threat they pose, and how you can minimise their impact.
- Emergency response: The procedures you’ll follow when a disaster is headed your way or has occurred.
- Business recovery: A listing of your company’s critical business functions and the steps you’ll take to restore sales, production, and operations to pre-disaster levels.
Developing — and maintaining — your business continuity plan
Build a team. Get support from top management and assign someone to be responsible for overseeing the process. Then assemble a core team, with representatives from each critical business department.
Assess the risk. Identify and rank the events or hazards that most likely threaten your business, including elements like facility construction, technology resources, staffing, past events, supply chain issues, specialised equipment, climate, security, and utilities.
Develop a business impact analysis. This will rank your business functions from most to least critical, so you know which ones to restore first after a disaster. Ask your business units to recommend recovery strategies that will enable key functions to be up and running within a specified time frame. Include information on how to recover your backup data files (which should be stored offsite) within a few hours, and which IT vendor you’ll contact for replacement equipment, if needed.
- Put it in writing. Document your plan and procedures step by step. Make sure to share it with staff and assign clear responsibilities for carrying out the plan.
- Test and retest. Think of business continuity planning as a cycle – one that requires continual reviews, updates, and adjustments based on changes to your business operations. Offer training sessions so your employees are prepared to collaborate in the recovery of the business and conduct regular drills to assess and improve response.