As a business, one can never overlook the possibilities of being caught off guard against vulnerabilities that can jeopardize the company’s operations. Disasters never knock on doors and often tend to strike at the most unexpected of times. Depending on the nature of the business, there are a number of risks and threats that can disrupt services causing companies to incur huge losses. Besides hardware and system or application failures, there are cybersecurity risks, power outages, natural disasters, market instabilities, global pandemics, and many more.
Even though these unforeseen catastrophes can’t always be predicted or prevented, there are always ways to recover and restore the business with minimal losses and in the quickest amounts of time. A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) does just that. A BCP is a plan made to maintain Business Continuity, i.e. to ensure business processes resume operation in the event of a major disruption or disaster.
BCP incorporates all the necessary procedures and instructions that the business will have to follow to get back on track and leave the effects of the disaster behind. The major aspects of a BCP are the business processes, the assets, human resources, and the stakeholders. Therefore, any backup strategy formulated will have to incorporate these critical aspects.
Whenever disaster strikes, and often it usually does, a solid backup plan can really make a difference. There isn’t always a concise set of rules as to what characteristics a good BCP must-have. Since businesses differ vastly in their nature, every organization will have their own requirements and limitations to how their business continuity plan should be like. However, it’s recommended to integrate the following attributes as the framework for a decent BCP:
- A BCP must be REALISTIC. Companies must carefully consider their resources, budget, and the capabilities of the staff when formulating backup strategies. A BCP must never be farfetched beyond the scope of the organization itself. What good is a plan that cannot be executed?
- A BCP must be EFFICIENT. When a BCP is to be executed, there will obviously be a lot of stress and hassle due to the disaster and if the plan to recover adds to the anxiety, it is worse than not having a plan in the first place. Recovery plans must be executed in the most efficient way so as to alleviate the hardships of the disaster.
- Finally, a BCP must be COMPREHENSIVE and ADAPTABLE. The whole point of having a BCP is to prepare for any disruption that may befall onto the business, therefore consideration of every possible worst case scenario is a must. Also, there will be times when something new and completely unpredicted might cause problems and at times like those, a flexible and adaptive plan can give business the edge.
Once an overview of what the BCP needs to be like has been determined, the next step is to start building the continuity plan. Here are a few methodologies involved in establishing the BCP for your business:
1) Form the BCP Management Team:
The BCP management team will comprise members responsible for planning, implementing and then executing the plan. This team will include a manager, assistant manager, and administrative representatives from each department directly involved in the business processes. They will prepare the reports regarding business processes, define business standards, train the subordinates and overall manage the whole project. Depending on the size of the business, the team may need to be larger or smaller but ideally, there should be representatives from each of the concerned departments.
2) Perform Risk Assessment and Business Impact Analysis:
Once the team has been assembled, their biggest challenge is to identify all the potential risks and threats to the organization. Understanding the operational, physical and also the financial risks to the business is the key towards risk assessment. Then, thorough research and analysis is to be made on what areas and processes will be the most affected due to the identified risks.
Next, it is essential to identify critical business processes and the impact of the threats to these operations as well as the stakeholders. All of the analysis and findings must be absolutely documented for the next step.
3) Identify the Resources Needed:
After the vital processes, the threats to them and the impact to business should such threats occur have been identified, the following task is to identify the time and resources need to ensure recovery. During this, most companies will realize the difference in the resources available to them and the resources that will be required to make the most effective recovery. Resources could be anything from assets, infrastructure, employees, or even third-party vendors or business partners. Therefore, proper strategies to mitigate this gap in resource requirement can and must be formulated during this stage as well.
4) Implement Recovery Strategies:
After the BCP management team completes the risk assessment and resource gap analysis, it is essential to plan how to cope with the disasters. Without a plan, it can be overly chaotic to deal with the situation even in the presence of all the necessary resources. Formulating an effective recovery strategy to handle a disastrous situation, requires a lot of research, analysis, and planning. The team needs to address every possible solution, assess what kinds of resources will be needed for a given strategy and scenario and analyze how the implementation of that strategy will help the business bounce back.
5) Testing and Analysis:
A company can plan and formulate all kinds of strategies but what matters most is the implementation. In order to cope with disasters, businesses must be proactive. Performing trial runs and testing the strategies can give crucial insights into how well prepared the organization really is. Not only that, situations will likely change from the time the BCP was formulated, so it is important to keep updating the whole thing and testing it from time to time. Feedbacks on the tests and updates will allow the business to change and adapt with the changing times and also invite suggestions on how things could have been handled better.
For further details on how BCP can be implemented for your business and any necessary guidance, we are always here to help. Feel free to reach out to us anytime you like.