Much is made about business continuity planning, but there is a knowledge deficit about what exactly business continuity planning entails. Today, we will talk about the basics of the business continuity plan (BCP) and how today’s most successful businesses go about reading their contingency plans.
A BCP is a plan that will be enacted in any situation that causes the business’ operation to be interrupted. This could be as simple as a deleted file, but it could also be enacted in situations where the health of the business is in grave danger. Having a comprehensive BCP in place helps eliminate the confusion that could further hurt your business when the going gets rough.
What Should Your Plan Include?
In most cases, people would consider that a BCP is for major, business-killing events. As we mentioned before, however, it’s just not so. The BCP has to be thought out, implemented, and tested regularly to ensure that when operations are interrupted, whether by broken hardware or terrorist attack, that there is a plan in place to get the business back up and running profitably as soon as possible. As a result every situation that could threaten your business’ operational integrity needs to be planned for, even if the downtime you experience is measured in minutes rather than hours or days.
Here are some important elements your business continuity plan should include:
- Organizational lists – A list of names, addresses, and contact information of people who have access to the continuity plan. This includes making up primary and secondary contact lists for all affected areas of your business.
- Staff responsibilities – Each primary and secondary contact will have a set of responsibilities that they need to carry out.
- Any off-site recovery locations – You’ll need to include the address, equipment inventory, and any other relevant information.
- Your action plan – This is an in-depth process for returning every element of your business to satisfactory functionality. You need plans for the first hour, the first day, the first week, and for long-term disruption.
- Primary and alternate suppliers – This is a list of all your current and backup suppliers. Vendors typically play a big role in returning your business to normal.
- Customer data – You’ll need a process to inform clients that have personal, financial, or other sensitive information stored with you. This plan will go a long way toward helping you retain your clientele once continuity is restored.
- All relevant documentation and insurance policy information – Keeping accurate records will help the insurance process if a claim needs to be filed.
- Technology inventory – What technology requirements does your company need in order to retain continuity? Here you will want to create contingencies for remote work, failover, and more.
- Data redundancy – You will need to identify the details of your data backup system to ensure that all of your digital assets are backed up and can quickly be restored.
This may be a basic list of what every business should have in their BCP, businesses with more moving parts will definitely need to have more specific and overarching continuity plans. It is important that no matter how large or small your organization is, that you consistently revisit the plan to update it as necessary. Typically, if a business carries out a BCP autif twice every year, their plan will work the way it was intended to work. Keeping on top of important changes to your business will make this process much simpler and less time consuming.
Additionally, you will definitely want to test the new parts (and the ones that need it) as much as you can to get a good read on how your business would react if they were ever to enact their BCP in earnest. Ensuring your backup system is working as intended and making sure you have a complete inventory of your hardware and software needs are two critical aspects of a well-implemented plan.
Operational downtime can happen in any part of your business. It can happen as a result of faulty IT, interruptions in your supply chain, or situations where your human resources are unavailable. Call us today at 810.230.9455 to help you put together a business continuity plan that will keep you in the game even when the chips are down.