If the recent freezing weather and events from 2020 taught any lessons, it is that business must be prepared for almost anything. Many business organizations engage in strategic business continuity planning to create a system of prevention and recovery from potential threats.
BCP: An overview
Threats and disruptions may take away revenue, raise costs and drop profitability. Insurance does not cover all the costs and the loss of customers who go to competitors after disasters. Continuity plans help ensure that personnel and assets are protected and may function quickly after a disaster.
BCP is usually prepared in advance with the participation of important personnel and stakeholders. Planning includes defining any risks that can impact operations and preparing a business strategy for risk management. Risks may include weather-related events, fire, and flooding, and cyber-attacks.
The plan should address how those risks will affect operations, implement measures and procedures to lessen the risks, testing procedures to assure that they will work, and process review to assure that it is current.
A BCP is different from a disaster recovery plan which mostly concerns the recovery of an IT system after a crisis. BCPs may not be as effective when a disease outbreak or other disaster affects a large portion of the population.
Developing the BCP
First, the company may engage in business impact analysis where it will identify the disruption’s potential impact on business functions and processes. Then it will use that information to decide recovery priorities and strategies.
Business function and process managers may use a worksheet created by FEMA to identify and emphasize the processes that have the largest impact on its operations and financial functions. This also identifies how the loss of a function or process could have certain business impacts.
Next, companies may create and implement steps to recover important business functions. A continuity team must be formed and devise a plan to manage disruptions. That team should be trained and tested and complete disaster plan exercises. All employees, however, need to be aware of the plan to assure its success.
The BCP should also be tested several times to assure its value in many different risk scenarios. This will help identify and correct weaknesses.
A checklist with key information may be invaluable. It should include emergency contact information, resources that the continuity team may need, the location and storage of backup data and other vital information.
Attorneys can help business make plans that meet its needs. Lawyers can also help them address problems that may arise.