A business continuity plan (BCP) is a collection of steps that is developed and maintained for use in the event of an emergency or disaster. Developing a BCP is essential to keeping your organization running during an interruption of normal operation due to an emergency or disaster.
An effective BCP lists all of the “what if’s” and documents the “how’s” and acts as a guide to ensure crucial tasks are not forgotten during this chaotic time.
The more contingencies that can be developed before an incident happens, the better prepared the facility will be to handle a situation and minimize the impact of the incident. But good BCPs are more than just disaster recovery plans. They are tools for accounting for personnel, rebuilding, relocating and other necessary tasks to help the facility overcome the emergency or disaster.
There are four main steps to developing a BCP:
- Identify threats or risks that could leave your business (including employees, properties and customers) vulnerable. This should be based on where your business is located and past incidents.
- Conduct a business impact analysis to identify the aspects of your company that are crucial to survival and to restore critical operations after an emergency or disaster.
- Develop the plan framework and procedures; organize and train recovery teams; arrange vendor contracts; and purchase or budget for recovery resources and supplies.
- Test the plan by running it through several scenarios. Afterward, document results and update the plan if gaps emerge during tests.
Developing a BCP will take time and require your organization to ask and answer questions you probably never thought of before. It will also need to be maintained. All new infrastructure and departments will need to be added to the BCP to ensure they are accounted for in the event of an emergency or disaster.
Studies have shown that facilities with BCPs are more likely to recover from emergencies and disasters than facilities without plans. They’re also able to recover operations faster because planning and decisions have already been made, allowing people to act quickly and effectively. During and immediately following an incident, having a BCP also reduces stress and allows better decisions to be made.
Many of the emergency response plans and safety procedures that are already developed for specific hazards within a facility can be incorporated into a BCP. Most existing plans can also serve as springboards for additional plans that may be needed.
Unlike many plans, a BCP will be thought out and then not used again unless it is being updated or if there is an emergency or disaster. It might be hard to make a business case to allocate resources into a plan that you don’t know when you’ll use, but consider the possible stress you’ll incur if you have to react to emergency or disaster while one is happening without a plan.
It’s also likely that you will need to purchase supplies or make room in the budget to purchase supplies, including technology and infrastructure replacements.
Operating without a BCP could impact the time in which your facility resumes normal business after an emergency or disaster. Like a good insurance policy, a BCP plans for the future now and makes the recovery process easier.
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