Tips for Establishing a Reliable Business Continuity Plan

Tips for Establishing a Reliable Business Continuity Plan

Given the unknown variables surrounding the latest coronavirus outbreak, many businesses across the globe are having to evaluate their preparedness to the potential impact it may have on their operations, supply chain, and employee well-being. 

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is an actionable, tested plan that an organization can rely upon in the event of an emergency. It outlines the policies, procedures, and instructions an organization must follow in the face of a disaster, covering items such as business processes, assets, human resources, business partners, and more. 

Business Continuity plans are unique to each company, but typically include evacuation plans, communication protocols, access to technology and tools, key asset inventories, and more.

Here are a few things to remember as you establish your business continuity plan:

People First

  • The health and well-being of your employees is your top concern. It’s possible that COVID-19 will sicken some employees and force others into quarantine. Address their immediate needs first, and then begin to think about operations with a remote workforce.
  • Establish a strategy that enables employees to continue to function without endangering them.
  • Offer greater flexibility to normal working expectations.

Leadership

  • Assign someone to own the plan and response strategy, and to designate a team (and a backup team) to help execute it.
  • Get people on board during the planning stages to help with creating a clear plan and consistent message.
  • Senior leadership should be involved in every phase of crisis management as this will ease anxieties of employees and clients alike.

Communication

  • People want clear information and straightforward steps to follow to ensure they’re covering their bases.
  • Create a communications plan that includes providing employees and customers with regular situation updates as well as actions taken.
  • Some organizations set up websites, apps or hotlines featuring curated content to provide guidance to employees and customers. 

Prioritize Key Business Functions

  • Determine your priorities and essential operation. Start with critical products and services your company delivers and the customers or clients they are delivered to.
  • Identify the minimum staffing requirements to support these priorities in case you need to function with a significantly reduced workforce. Plan to reassign staff from non-critical functions if absence is a threat.  
  • Establish a work-from-home policy and verify that you have the appropriate tools, technology and security in place.
  • Ensure your IT infrastructure is capable of supporting an increase in the use of video conferencing and telecommunication software like Microsoft Teams to communicate with customers, and an employee Intranet apps like SharePoint for company updates.
  • Identify operational and revenue impacts from key partners and vendors.  For example, does your business rely heavily on external suppliers and do you need to look for alternative sources?
  • Determine all areas of the business that may be vulnerable, map dependencies, and estimate the risks associated if those processes go down for a given amount of time -- from hours to weeks or more.

Test, Test, Test

  • Role play with various scenarios that could affects your business.
  • Employees should act as though the scenario is genuine and refer to their duties in the business continuity plan, going through it step by step.
  • Monitor the time it takes to get everything under control, from contacting customers to checking business resources and temporary meeting locations.
  • Allow your users to work from home to test if your infrastructure is flexible and secure to support a large remote workforce.
  • Testing should be done atleast twice per year to assure your plan is current.
  • After the test is complete solicit feedback from staff to improve the plan going forward.

IT Solutions Can Help You Start the Planning Process

Proactive planning is a key component to everything we do here at ITS. Business Continuity Plans not only help protect core assets in the event of an outbreak, they also preserve peace of mind for business owners and employees. Although no business continuity plan is totally bullet proof, it should better equip your company to react effectively during a stressful situation, and create a solid framework for handling the related challenges such disruptions can cause. Contact us today if you would like to discuss our strategic managed services to help create or refine your Business Continuity Plan. 

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