A business continuity plan sets out the procedures an organization will use to continue operations or protect its people and assets if an unexpected negative event occurs. Typically, organizations plan for disasters like fire, flood, power outages, cyber attacks, epidemics, major accidents or technology failures.
Having a business continuity plan means organizations are better prepared for severe challenges to their business. Even if it doesn’t predict the exact nature or scope of an unprecedented event, a business continuity plan gives a head start in responding to the crisis. It sets out key principles and planned emergency procedures that can speed up response and help minimize impacts.
Every business function should be involved in putting together a business continuity plan. From operations to finance, HR to customer service, every part of the organization should input into the business continuity plan.
Here are four important elements of an effective business continuity plan:
Impact analysis – Consider the kinds of scenarios that could disrupt your business. These could include natural disasters, emergencies on your business premises, power or technology crises, cessations of transport or critical supplies.Then identify and prioritize the most critical and time-sensitive activities and processes in your business and consider what the impact of disruption might be on each.
Understanding recovery scenarios – Review each activity and process to work out how it could be protected, recovered, relocated, adapted or continued in the event of critical disruption. Then identify what resources or facilities you would need to take action. Choices might be influenced by cost, availability and speed of alternatives.
Designing an action plan – Put together an action plan that sets out how each of the chosen recovery approaches would be implemented. This might include lines of communication, responsibility for decisions, key contacts and suppliers and customer management. Crisis communication planning may also include a strategy for handling media and press.
Training, testing and practice – Validate as many elements of the business continuity plan as you can. Check that technology systems and data are available and up to date. Then, communicate the plan clearly to all staff and provide training and simulation exercises if needed. Once completed, refine the plan based on learning from testing, and regularly review the business continuity plan and update it to meet the latest scenarios and requirements, as new risks emerge, or your organization evolves.
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