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Interactive 5 steps to an effective business continuity plan

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Insights 4 minutes read

5 steps to an effective business continuity plan

Find out how to develop an effective business continuity plan by following these easy steps.
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What is a business continuity plan?

Every business needs a business continuity plan (BCP), to establish the steps that are needed for a business to manage and respond to a major disruption. This essentially means when a flood, power outage or natural disaster hits, your organisation can continue operating whilst having the resilience to recover quickly.

A business continuity plan sets out your critical business functions which must continue to operate, even in the event of a disaster. These strategic systems and processes often have a low tolerance to downtime – as the financial impact to a business is significant and therefore the proper processes need to be put in place. A business continuity plan enables a business to plan for disruptions well in advance, therefore, limit their potential business impact.

Key insight An ITIC study identified that a single hour of downtime now costs 98% of firms at least $100,000. And 86% of businesses say that the cost for one hour of downtime is $300,000 or higher.

As businesses evolve rapidly, a good BCP keeps pace with company-wide change. Regular testing and updates ensure that your business will remain resilient in the event of an unforeseen disaster.

A growing number of organisations are adopting BCP as part of sound business practice. Clearly understanding the threats to your business and the costs of responding to potential emergencies are key to this type of planning. Here the five key steps to developing an effective business continuity plan.

1. Identify internal key contacts

Identifying the internal resources that are needed to keep business-critical operations running is the first step of a business continuity plan. A company needs to determine the key skills, knowledge, and expertise needed to recover. Establishing the key roles and responsibilities of those individuals along with gaining their cooperation in the event of an emergency enables a robust business continuity plan.

2. Create a business impact analysis

A business impact analysis identifies critical business processes, resources, and any relationships across a business. This is used to quantify the potential impact if a disruptive event should occur. Once this is clearly defined, you can determine alternative strategies to mitigate any losses.

ITIC’s study indicates that 34% of organisations say the cost of a single hour of downtime can reach $1 million to over $5 million

Once you have a business impact analysis in place, a business continuity provider can provide the facilities to ensure your operations continue to run as usual.

3. Communicate and provide the right training to your staff

It is not enough to create a business continuity plan, it needs to be actioned. Effectively communicating and educating staff on what a business continuity plan entails, along with any nominated responsibilities that are required, enables your BCP to be understood and prepares your business to handle an emergency.

Depending on your business’s risk profile you may need to provide training to staff members to facilitate the process which is needed to keep your business running. Ensuring your staff understands how to access your business continuity plan and when to use it will support its adoption.

Don’t forget to involve your service providers. Being aware of how to escalate issues to accelerate restoration of services can be the difference between getting back in business, or shutting it down permanently.

4. Identify any threats

Threats to your business come in different forms; human error, natural disasters or even cyber-attacks. Taking into account these factors that are both in and out of your control form part of a risk assessment.

Assessing the likelihood of each identified threat along with the potential damage they can cause your business, will help your business to priorities what threats to focus on and then develop the needed processes to recover effectively.

5. Regularly test and update your business continuity plan

Once a business continuity plan is established, each step needs to be tested – making sure it is accurate and works properly. A planned power outage is a good test to identify any issues in the plan, which will then need to be incorporated into it to ensure the plan runs smoothly.

A business continuity plan is not a set and forgets approach and instead, regular testing needs to be carried out. When a crisis hits your business will rely on these step-by-step procedures and responses outlined in your BCP, which need regular updates to make sure that it remains relevant.

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