Key Elements for Business Continuity Planning
October 13, 2020
Table of Contents
In the event of an unanticipated incident, a business continuity plan would ensure that employees understand their roles and duties. Then, they need to respond according to established, practised, and agreed-upon protocols.
While creating and testing a business continuity strategy takes time and work, it will be well worth it.
In this article, learn how to develop your own business continuity plan.
What is business continuity?
Business continuity means having a plan to deal with difficult situations. Thanks to this plan, your business can continue operating with as little disruption as possible.
Examples of potential incidents to consider are:
- Supply chain failure
- Utility outage
- Cyber incidents
What is a business continuity plan (BCP)?
Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is the process of creating a system of prevention and recovery from potential threats to a company.
The plan ensures that personnel and assets are protected and are able to function quickly in the event of a disaster. The BCP is generally conceived in advance and involves input from key stakeholders and personnel.
Business Continuity Planning involves defining any and all risks that can affect the company’s operations. In this way, you will make it an important part of the organization’s risk management strategy.
Risks may include natural disasters—fire, flood, or weather-related events—and cyber-attacks. Once the risks are identified, the plan should also include:
- Determining how those risks will affect operations
- Implementing safeguards and procedures to mitigate the risks
- Testing procedures to ensure they work
- Reviewing the process to make sure that it is up to date
Key elements for business continuity planning (BCP)
These elements are fundamental for crisis management. There are three key elements:
Your business can increase its resilience in different ways:
- staffing rotations
- data redundancy
- maintaining a surplus of capacity
This can help maintain essential services without interruption.
It is important to set business recovery time objectives for different systems, networks or applications. This can help you see the priorities. It is crucial to restoring day to day business functions.
A contingency plan is useful to foresee external scenarios. It can include the distribution of responsibilities within the organisation.
Business continuity management
You have to choose someone to handle your business continuity planning. For small businesses, one person might be enough. If you operate in a bigger organisation, a team could take care of it.
The team is in charge of business continuity programs. Each is specific to the business or organisation it refers to. However, certain outcomes should be shared.
Basic business continuity requirement involves keeping essential functions up. It also means, after a disaster, to recover as soon as possible.
Business continuity vs disaster recovery plan
Disaster recovery planning is part of business continuity. It is specific to post-failure actions.
This part is more focused on data. It stores data in a way that is more accessible.
Why does business continuity planning (BCP) matter?
Business Continuity Planning is an important part of any business. Threats and disruptions mean a loss of revenue and higher costs, which leads to a drop in profitability.
Businesses can’t rely on insurance only since it doesn’t cover all the costs and the customers who move to the competition.
Every business faces many common challenges. There are also potential risk factors that could cause significant setbacks or even utter ruination, should they come to pass. It is enough to keep any business owner awake at night, worrying about the future.
Preparedness is the key to
- mitigating risks
- avoiding disaster when possible
- having a plan in place to cope and recover when unavoidable setbacks occur
Whether you are addressing computer security or natural disasters, having a BC plan in place is necessary.
Hiring external help for this could, in fact, make all the difference between being shut down for days, or to be up and running in hours.
Learn from top companies
International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is an American multinational technology company.
IBM produces and sells computer hardware, middleware and software. And it provides hosting and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology. It is also a major research organization.
In the course of cloud transformation, many IT and business leaders have realized that their BC plans are not effective enough.
You might be looking to enhance the protection of your business operations and critical data. Or you want to improve the way your business responds to threats, especially cyberattacks.
Anyway, there’s never been a better time to review and realign your IT resilience program.
IBM offers a full range of services, solutions and technologies for data protection and recovery. This includes:
- backup as a service (BaaS)
- disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)
- cyber resilience service
- IT resilience orchestration (ITRO)
The Business Continuity Institute is a global organisation that helps with business continuity guidelines.
It is based in the UK. It was founded in 1994 and has 8,000 members. They operate in private and public sectors in more than 100 countries.
They set the guidelines, train professionals, they gather research, and spread knowledge.
The BCI is a not for profit organisation registered in the United Kingdom and is owned by its members. A board of directors is elected by Voting Members each year and is complemented by a number of non-executive directors.
The Institue published different resources online. Among these, you can find the Good Practice Guidelines. These help you identify activities to support strategic planning.
How to develop BCP
There are several steps many companies must follow to develop a solid BCP. They include:
- Business Impact Analysis: Here, the business will identify functions and related resources that are time-sensitive. (More on this below)
- Recovery: In this portion, the business must identify and implement a recovery strategy. This recovery plan should have concrete steps to recover critical business processes and functions.
- Organization: A continuity team must be created. This team will devise a plan to manage the disruption.
- Training: The continuity team must be trained and tested. Members of the team should also complete exercises that go over the plan and strategies.
Companies may also find it useful to come up with a checklist that includes key details such as emergency contact information.
You might also add a list of resources the continuity team may need. There, backup data and other required information are housed or stored.
Along with testing the continuity team, the company should also test the BCP itself. It should be tested several times to ensure it can be applied to many different risk scenarios.
This will help identify any weaknesses in the plan which can then be identified and corrected.
Business continuity planning (BCP) and strategy
Even when companies do have a BCP, many fail to test it. This is critical to ensure that it works. It would be to test it twice per year.
One way that you can do this is by doing a walk-through of the BCP. There are good chances you don’t have a disaster recovery team. In this case, you can ask key managers or staff to meet and go over the plan. Look for gaps to see if there is anything you missed.
Risks you failed to anticipate or account for? Make sure everyone understands his or her role and examines the plan in detail.
Some businesses take testing further by doing simulations. They set up an environment that mimics a high-risk situation (e.g. data breach or severe storm) and go through the steps of the BCP just as they would in ‘real life.’
Emergencies occur all the time, in some form or another. No one and no business is immune – yet you can be prepared.
How CONNECTS can help you
Using CONNECTS as part of your daily business activities is a great way to strengthen your Business Continuity Plan.
CONNECTS is a SaaS platform. We help entrepreneurs and SMEs grow their businesses.
With CONNECTS, you can have access to a business network, online and worldwide. You can find trust through our global network of Chambers of Commerce.
On our platform, you can:
- find online business opportunities
- join and promote your own business community
- connect with a worldwide network
If you are writing your business plans, you can read our article on the perfect business plan. You can find many other articles on diverse topics.
On our platform, you can find
- business communities
- online leads
Join CONNECTS and discover a world of new opportunities you can trust. The platform is a Business and Chamber Directory.
CONNECTS is completely private:
- We do not share your data
- There are no third parties within the platform
- All emails are hidden
Using CONNECTS will allow you to remain resilient in times of crisis and avoid the pitfalls of traditional business-making.
You can try our free trial for new members.
Are you a member of a participating Chamber? Join our Business Development Platform for free.