A Business Continuity Plan’s (BCP) purpose is to provide the tools and protocols that become your organization’s deliverance during the aftermath of a geopolitical, economic, environmental or (more recently) pandemic crisis. In an Information Age where complacency is still rampant, this type of plan becomes vital – especially in a highly interdependent business landscape, where negative effects tend to ripple out and intensify.
1. Assemble the Team
This is your A-Team during disasters. Skillful and competent managers, employees and a team leader chosen from your existing cadre would become the BCP team. They will ultimately be responsible for the plan’s creation, testing, training, policies, and communication.
2. Prioritize Essential Operations
A car’s radio isn’t required when all you need is transport. Investigating and conducting a business impact analysis will help in prioritising the elements and services of your organization is crucial and can be gauged by their impact on cash flow, staff, customers, etc. Once complete, the team understands which functions are critical and which can be suspended temporarily – or even indefinitely, until normalcy is reached.
3. Relocation of Staff and Skills
Drawing from the previous step, this will be your minimum workforce and expertise needed to maintain necessary business operations. This skeleton crew will be selected considering health and safety, newly imposed regulations, and the ability to travel or telecommute.
4. Brainstorm Potential Challenges
Experience, research plus imagination. Identify the various threats and how they would wreak havoc on the company. From natural disasters to terrorism, from war to contagion, the team understands each problem extensively.
5. Action Plan for Essential Services
Your playbook. Develop detailed strategies to tackle different scenarios so that you will never be on thin ice. The first step is getting your essentials operational, then come the next major departments and services. Furthermore, communication with
clients, suppliers, sub-contractors, and others, along with handling a possibly damaged supply chain is needed.
Check it again! Ensure every business function and sector has been accounted for and examined within the BCP. That said, some will prove more important than others due to their business impact, risk, policies, resource usage, etc.
7. Train, Test, Tweak
Once created, share the plan with other stakeholders for feedback and quality checking. Fresh eyes also help identify weaknesses and flaws. When revisions are finalized, staff training and trials can begin (trials can be planned or unplanned to test preparedness). This is a cyclic process and is essential for the plan to maintain its robustness as both the company and the world continue to evolve.
A great management guru, Confucius said: “knowledge without practice is useless”. The Business Continuity Plan is an invaluable document during a crisis. It, therefore, should not become a paperweight or decorate the inside of your filing cabinet. Rather, its information must penetrate the minds and culture of your organization – to always be prepared. When businesses around you are losing their stability financially (possibly mentally as well), with our help, yours will be proactive and able to build trust amongst customers and stakeholders alike by weathering the storms of tomorrow’s unpredictable business world.