How to Build an Effective Business Continuity Plan

Are you ready?

Aug 5, 2020

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that disaster and business  disruption can’t be predicted. Cyberattacks might be the most prevalent risk to your  company’s operations, but disruption can come in many different forms—and  businesses should be prepared for any situation.  

A business continuity plan is a blueprint for keeping your business processes  operating when emergency situations arise. When disruption occurs, essential  functions are impacted and it’s too late to implement a strategic response. Businesses  that are willing to invest time into creating a business continuity strategy are often the  most resilient in the face of future challenges.  

If your organization doesn’t currently have business continuity procedures in place,  here’s how to start the process.  

Prioritize and evaluate risk  

Different disaster scenarios have different risks and consequences and thus need  different priorities. For example, a power outage in a retail shop will disrupt sales if the  electronics are not quickly made operational again. An incoming hurricane (or other  natural disaster) will also disrupt the electronics, but the main objective in this  situation would be finding an alternate location for valuable inventory and ensuring its  security. One immediate concern all companies share is potential threats to their  business information. Employee records, customer data, and credit card information  can be severely damaging to a business if compromised without a disaster recovery  plan. 93% of businesses fail after suffering a major data loss if no backup solution is in  place. To avoid becoming part of this statistic, learn more about backup and disaster  recovery solutions for SMBs from our experts.  

Determine a response plan (with short and long-term goals)  The right technology can help businesses reduce the amount of damage and  interruptions when disaster strikes. Teams can work remotely via the Cloud if the main  location is damaged, data can be restored with backup and recovery tools, and  equipment and systems can be automatically stopped with safety features if there is a  malfunction or suspected risks. Employers should research short-term techniques like  these, as well as long-term recovery plans on how to eventually return to full business  function. Research long-term solutions ahead of time such as temporary office  locations, manual workarounds, and alternative suppliers to better prepare your  business for emergencies. 

Be transparent and inclusive 

Your business continuity plan needs to be clear to all employees in your organization.  Not only does this transparency give employees peace of mind should a disaster  happen, but also lets teams know what is expected of them. Outlining the recovery  strategy to your company team also gives them the chance to provide feedback on  aspects you may have missed. You should also have a communications plan with  Public Relations messaging ready for the media and your clients, outlining recovery  efforts and a timeframe of when they can expect business operations to return to  normal.  

Implement and test  

It can be frustrating paying for something that you cannot see the direct benefits of  immediately, but even worse is knowing you could have mitigated a disaster had you  taken action sooner. This is why we recommend implementing any business continuity  management tools as soon as possible because you never know when an emergency  situation will occur. Integrating these upgraded procedures sooner rather than later  also gives you the chance to test the new equipment and applications and determine  whether everything works the way you want it to. Simulate a disaster (telling your  employees beforehand) to gauge potential impact and assess your organization's  emergency response. Document along the way how long it takes for certain steps of  the disaster recovery plan to be completed and what techniques could be improved  upon.  

Is all accounted for?  

To deter the panic that typically accompanies disasters, be sure to have a business  continuity planning checklist so you will not forget or miss anything as you work  towards normalcy. We have developed a general business checklist that covers the  basics in any emergency and can be expanded on for more specific scenarios. Be sure to download your free checklist today!