Business Continuity Planning
Business Continuity Planning is basically a series of processes and procedures that are there to assist your organisation when any potential disaster strikes. It could be the one plan that could save your company from the brink of commercial disaster. It is thought that many large organisations have such plans in place, whereas medium to small sized organisations don’t tend to have such plans to hand.
Who would have thought the Buncefield oil disaster could have happened in Hemel Hempstead. Well it did and many companies had their business premises literally blown up in a matter of seconds. In some instances, business continuity planning was implemented and within hours companies were back in business.
Business continuity planning are key elements that are critical to the ongoing survival of a business when some sort of disaster strikes. If you are putting together such a plan, the first things to consider are how would each type of event affect my business. The plans that you create stem from this initial analysis.
You need to compile these plans so that they are concise and to the point. Make sure they are easily understood. Take a person who would not normally be associated with such documents and ask them to read them. Sit them down afterwards and ask them if they could have followed the instructions easily, if they can then your plans are looking good!
Business continuity management means that everybody should be involved to a certain extent as everyone has a part to play. A lot usually revolves around the IT department so ensure they are heavily involved. If a disaster occurs it could be this plan that keeps you in business.
Continuity is the key
When putting your plan together make sure you include every significant product or service. Engage your business partners especially your suppliers as they can play a crucial part in the continuity plan. In the event of a disaster, they could become, for instance, your virtual warehouse. Look at each element a produce a risk analysis of what could happen and how you would resolve it. Again keep it simple.
Management – Get buy in
You should get the buy in of the management team. In fact, all the key contact points in the business continuity plan should be on a list and easily contactable should an event occur.
The number of people involved in individual teams e.g. customer service, distribution etc. will be different depending on the departments size. Management must control the situation when a disaster occurs and carefully plan the way forward.
Quite often when putting a business continuity plan together, it is linked with the security policy of the company. If you are constructing a plan ensure you engage the IT and/or organisations security personnel. It is key that the organisations information and processes are kept secure so that vulnerabilities do not show, when a plan is put into action, therefore a secure operating environment is essential.
Your business continuity plans may have varying levels of severity, for instance the system going down for four hours will be probably have less of an impact, than if the whole building was out of action.
The plans need to be realistic in their positioning and have benchmarks as to where at a certain point in time a company should be e.g. within two weeks eighty percent of customers are being serviced to the same level as they were prior to any disaster.
As I have said in many articles, any plans whether strategic or in this case business continuity you need to engage your employees. They can often be the key to your challenges. Ask them for their views and be proactive with your approach.
The business continuity plan is there to protect the business but also it is there to protect the welfare and livelihoods of employees, its in their interest to contribute.
Business Continuity Planning is a process that can help to keep your business surviving even in the most testing of times. It involves every department and every employee right from the managing director right through to the office junior.
Make sure that brain storming sessions cover all aspects of your business and put concise, well written plans in place. Test them under a simulation scenario to see if they work to your satisfaction. If they do then great, if they don’t then start the process again in order to achieve a satisfactory result.