Business continuity planning is not just for big businesses. Every company, large and small, needs to be prepared for the worst, just in case.
Businesses Are Vulnerable
Over the last decade, the world has watched disasters from a the terrible flood in New Orleans to the tragedy of 9-11. Studies done on recovery after these situations found that businesses that did not have a business continuity plan did not survive. According to one statistic, 150 of the 350 businesses hurt by the 1993 World Trade Center bombing failed and closed.
It’s not just big disasters companies have to watch out for. Businesses hurt by fires have a 44% failure rate. There is no way to predict when a company is going to take a hit from a natural disaster or a criminal act such as hacking, arson or burglary. The best way to protect a business from the unexpected is to already have a plan for how to recover from a worst case scenario.
Business Continuity Plan Basics
A Business Continuity Plan or BCP doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. It can take many different forms. However, it does need to be tailored to an individual business.
Different companies have different needs. Each company needs to take time to think about worst case scenarios and what would be needed to keep the business working during each scenario. This can be as simple as a list of distributors, account numbers, insurance papers and important contact numbers. It can be complex enough to include regular back up of all computer files to an off-site location or even plans for a secondary work-site.
The simplicity or complexity of the plan doesn’t matter so much as how realistic it is. If the plan is not easy to enact during emergency situations, then they will be not useful. These plans should be gathered together in a form that is easy to use and understand as the people using it will, most likely, be under a great deal of stress and pressure.
Maintenance Of The BCP
Information changes and becomes outdated. People leave jobs and businesses fail. It is important that a business continuity plan reflects the business’ current situation. It is not helpful if the insurance papers that were carefully installed in a secure off-site location are expired or if the emergency contact numbers are for people who left that job two or three years ago.
It is important to go over the BCP once or twice a year to make sure that all the information is current and correct. In addition, the people that will implement the plan need to know what will be expected of them so this maintenance is a good time to make sure a recently promoted employee knows what to do in an emergency situation.
Whether a business puts together its own business continuity plan or contracts a company that specializes in developing BCP’s, the best time to prepare is before anything goes wrong.
How does your company handle BCP? Is BCP aligned and practiced across all divisions in your company? Is the BCP aligned to support the organization or the customer?
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David G. Peterson is a business consultant and author of Handling the Remedy. He has extensive international experience managing projects and operations for large financial institutions. He has worked in North America, Europe, Middle East and Asia skillfully managing business and technical requirements, core systems enhancement and support, merger and acquisition integration's, business process reengineering, off-shoring and outsourcing.