It’s hurricane season- Time to think about your business continuity plans

Although a disaster could affect your company at any time, the beginning of the hurricane season is a great time to further develop your Business Continuity, Contingency Planning & Disaster Recovery plans.

Developing a business continuity plan is an essential and unavoidable task. Although the creation of a sound plan may be a complex undertaking, it pays huge dividends in the event of an emergency. A great success story comes from one of our partners. In 2004 their Human Resources department would have lost the personnel records of over 1500 of their employees after a flood. Fortunately the vulnerability of their key business records was identified, and beginning the previous year they had digitized their paper records.

So what exactly is a Business Continuity Plan? In plain language, a Business Continuity Plan is how an organization prepares for future incidents that could jeopardize their core mission and their long-term competitiveness. These potential incidents include local incidents like building fires, regional incidents like hurricanes and national incidents like pandemic illnesses.

To start to develop or improve your plans follow these three basic steps.

Conduct Business Impact Analysis

The first step in a sensible business continuity process is to consider the potential impacts of each type of problem. After all, you cannot properly plan for a disaster if you don’t know the likely impacts on your business/organization.

A business impact analysis is essentially a means of systematically assessing the potential impacts resulting from various (unavailability) events or incidents

You should ask yourself “What do I do when we cannot use our facility?” or “What can I do now to better prepare my business unit to respond when our facility is unavailable?”  Why it is unavailable isn’t the issue. It could be as a result of a fire, tornado or massive power outage. Consider that your offices and all of the resources you have available for day-to-day operations are no longer available.

The business impact analysis is intended to help you understand the degree of potential loss (and various other unwanted effects) which could occur. This will cover not just direct financial loss, but other issues, such as reputation damage, regulatory effects, etc.

Develop Plan

Creation of a living business continuity plan is far from a trivial exercise. Every aspect of the plan must be carefully managed to ensure that it does not fall short when most needed.

Having stated this however, it is equally true that the creation of a plan is often made far more difficult than actually necessary.

Essentially your plan must describe what you are going to do in the event of an emergency and what you are going to do to limit your losses?

For example, how will you communicate with your employees and the press? How will you notify your customers and key vendors? How will you ensure that you have what you need to operate if something happens? This includes business information, records, statements, and so on.

In this plan you must also define who will be responsible for what, how will you train your staff and employees, in addition you must define how will you update and distribute the plan.

Plan implementation, maintenance and testing

Having developed your business continuity plan, it is sensible to actually implement it and to perform an overall audit… not just initially, but at regular intervals. This helps ensure that it remains current, and that it stands up to rigorous examination. This should also cover all the plan’s supporting contingency arrangements.

Various options are available. A common approach is to ‘brainstorm’ the plan, via intensive meetings and workshops.  Another is to hire specialist consultants – recognized experts in the field.

Please feel free to contact Safety Links if you need any assistance developing or evaluating your plan. Whether you are entirely new to business continuity management, or whether you have an established contingency plan already in place, we can help!

For professional assistance, give us a call at 407-353-8165 or email at info@safetylinks.net to start your business continuity plan.

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