One way to maintain a healthy business, in the long run, is to plan for the future. By forecasting and anticipating what will happen in the coming weeks, months and years, businesses can better respond to an emergency situation or natural disaster.
When an unexpected emergency occurs, we rarely get enough advance notice that it will happen, if any notice at all. That’s why a business continuity plan is essential for your organization. A business continuity plan outlines your organization’s procedures and policies to follow in the event of an emergency to improve its response and recovery.
Let’s discuss what a business continuity plan encompasses and how you can create a strong plan for your organization.
What is a business continuity plan?
A business continuity plan (BCP) outlines your business’s system of prevention and recovery from emergencies or potential threats, such as extreme weather, cyberattacks, power outages and more. Your organization needs a strong business continuity plan to ensure both personnel and assets are able to function quickly in response to such events.
Without a business continuity plan, your organization may be slower and less effective at recovering from the negative impact of emergencies: financial loss, disruptions to operations, damage to physical locations, loss of productivity and so on.
With a business plan, you have peace of mind knowing that you’re protecting your people, brand and reputation. You’ll also decrease risk and build trust among your customers.
A business continuity plan is not to be confused with an emergency communication plan. An emergency communication plan focuses on sharing and disseminating information internally and externally during an emergency.
Have a team identify your objectives
Whether your company is starting fresh with a new BCP or updating a current business continuity plan, it’s important to state your objective for your business continuity plan. It may be as simple as “minimize disruptions to operations,” but the objective should be stated so that the rest of your plan can align with it.
As for your business continuity management team or emergency preparedness team, the size and composition of your team will depend on your company but choose leaders with good leadership, communication and decision-making skills.
Complete a business impact analysis
To conduct a business impact analysis, you must identify which processes and functions are essential and would be most impacted by an emergency. What are the biggest threats to your business? What would happen if your processes or functions were inoperable or had to be modified?
Risks to your business may differ depending on your industry, but some threats are common to all types of organizations.
- Worldwide pandemics: The COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 changed the way employees worked in-office, affected the supply chain and, of course, impacted the health and safety of organizations. Consider how your organization responded to this pandemic and how it can better prepare for similar situations in the future.
- Severe weather events: Fires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards and tornadoes can occur in an instant. They can impact your business by threatening the safety of your people, causing physical damage to facilities and disrupting operations, leading to financial loss.
- Power outages: Similar to natural disasters, loss of power and utilities can severely impact day-to-day operations and damage physical assets. In turn, this can disrupt services to customers and decrease productivity.
- Cybersecurity breaches: Data breaches, hacks, data theft and other cybersecurity attacks can cause you to lose business data or expose confidential data. A serious breach may affect your business’s reputation and finances.
This step in creating your plan may take some time. However, it’s crucial to create a comprehensive business continuity plan that addresses risks to your business. Without identifying these threats, building plans to combat them will be more difficult.
Outline recovery strategies
So far, you’ve:
- Put together a business continuity management team
- Identified the objectives of your business continuity plan
- Determined which processes and functions are essential to your business
- Assessed potential threats and risks to your business
Next, you’ll build recovery strategies that address these risks and protect your essential business functions from the negative impact of an emergency, as well as improve your overall emergency response.
In your recovery strategies, address questions such as the following:
- What will the organization do if those in leadership roles are unavailable? What about essential personnel?
- What must be done if the facilities are damaged or inaccessible?
- What is the recovery process for a cybersecurity attack or data breach?
- What must be done if you have low or no inventory?
- What is the communication system for when power, water, or other utilities are down?
- What is the policy for remote work if the health and safety of employees are impacted?
You might also take a different approach to your recovery strategy and plan according to the department or team instead. Consider departments such as:
- Customer service
- Management and supervisors
- Inventory and floor workers
- Shipping and receiving
- Third-party partners or vendors
Think about how each department’s needs differ, and so should their part in your business continuity plan.
Test and improve your plan
Testing your completed business continuity plan is essential. Present the plan to your stakeholders for formal review so that it can be modified or expanded as needed. Encourage those reviewing the plan to point out weaknesses or gaps in the plan.
Once updates have been made, perform walkthroughs and training exercises. In a walkthrough, team members walk through each component of the business continuity plan to identify any issues that must be addressed. You might perform drills or full-scale exercises to test your team on what they’ve absorbed in their training.
Another way to test your plan is to conduct a tabletop exercise. These are typically held in a meeting room, in which a facilitator for the exercise leads a team through the plan. Questions are asked and answered and the scenario is played out through discussion.
Prevent and recover from threats with effective communication solutions
A proper business continuity plan prepares your organization for the unexpected, whether it be a natural disaster, security threat, power outage, or public health crisis. Your business continuity plan helps decrease risk and minimize damage to your facilities, as well as your brand reputation.
Business continuity planning goes beyond recovering physical assets or lost data, however. It’s also about strengthening your organization’s communication skills, both internal and external. That’s why Rave Mobile Safety provides critical communication solutions to many corporations, but also for healthcare facilities, schools, government organizations and communities.
A critical communication solution empowers your team to share and receive the right information during emergency situations. And it does even more. Our suite of communication and collaboration solutions includes:
- A secure mass notification system that reaches people via text, email, desktop, digital signage and public address systems
- A personal safety app that protects employees with check-in features, safety resources and anonymous text-to-tip systems
- An online portal where users can access emergency policies and procedures from any device
- A communication tool that activates quick response and real-time collaboration with emergency responders
Strengthen your business continuity plan with the best communication solutions from Rave. To learn more about Rave’s solutions for corporations, or to learn about customizing your own solutions package, schedule a demo today.