Every business should have a business continuity plan in place in order to remain operational and efficient should the unexpected happen. “The main goals of a business continuity plan are to improve responsiveness by the employees in different situations, ease confusion by providing written procedures and participation in drills and help ensure logical decisions are made during a crisis.” There are several questions your business will need to answer to create a comprehensive business continuity plan that keeps your business operating at a sufficient level.
1. What is the scope of your business continuity plan?
How big do you really need to go, and what kind of budget do you have available to funnel into your preparations? A business continuity plan is a necessary investment, and an appropriate budget that ensures your needs are met should be set aside. Start with the bare bones of what you need to remain operational and expand from there as your budget allows.
2. What are your key business areas that need to be accounted for?
Each area of your business has a varying degree of importance and specific needs. Which ones are vital to ensure continuity, and what type of support will they require? Certain departments are more essential than others to keep running in the event of an emergency. Some may be able to be scaled back or temporarily shut down without causing significant disruption.
3. Which functions are vital to business continuity?
Certain functions are more critical than others. Which ones do your need to remain operational to continue doing business even in a small capacity? Both core functions and support functions will need to be addressed.
Certain support functions may be able to be trimmed for a period of time, provided they don’t have too great an impact on operations.
4. Which areas of your business need to remain connected to ensure smooth operations?
Certain departments and functions depend on others. What is the plan to keep them in proper communication? Communications are essential in business. Your plan should include a directory of cell phone numbers, backup phone systems, meeting software, and a web-based program to share documents at a minimum.
5. How much downtime is acceptable for each of your critical functions?
“The Critical Business Functions or CBF are business activities and processes that must be restored in the event of a disruption to ensure the ability to protect the organization’s assets, meet organizational needs, and satisfy regulations.” After identifying your critical functions, you need to know the bottom line costs of downtime for each of them and have a plan to get them back up in an acceptable amount of time.
6. Which strategies are essential to your organization in order to handle daily tasks?
Which aspects of your business strategy cannot be adjusted in case of an emergency, and how can you become more flexible? Strategies that are essential to your core operations should be addressed first.
Things like hiring and growth initiatives can likely be placed on hold in an emergency, but every organization will be different.
7. What software is necessary to continue operating efficiently?
Software and data are critical to nearly every business. Which ones are vulnerable, and what might need to be changed to remain operational? If there is a security breach or people are forced to work remotely, you will need backups and alternatives to your most vital software and data, as well as a plan to get things back up fast and efficiently.
8. Which processes will need to be adjusted to ensure continuous operations?
Specific processes will need to change in the event of a disaster. Which ones need added flexibility to ensure continuity? The processes behind core business functions need to have a continuity plan all their own in order to maintain operations.
Processes need to have a certain level of flexibility built-in. The type of problem you’re facing will determine which operations will be impacted and dictate what adjustments need to be made.
9. Which technologies are vital to business continuity specific to your organization and industry?
Are your phone systems, computer hardware, and machinery specific to your industry able to remain functional if disaster strikes? You’ll need to uncover your current technologies’ vulnerabilities and shortcomings and understand how different disaster scenarios will impact each of them.
You’ll want to have a plan to remain operational even at a reduced capacity, as well as a plan to get everything back up and running as quickly as possible.
10. Do you have a backup facility reserved as a disaster recovery site?
Many businesses are not able to send everyone home and remain operational. Do you have a backup facility available that will fit the needs of your organization? Many organizations have learned that some departments can remain productive working from home, but areas like manufacturing and research and development will require a backup facility to stay productive. The cost of a backup facility should be weighed against the potential cost of downtime in the case of an emergency.
The last year has highlighted the need to have a plan in place that will prepare your business for any situation. Alto9 can help you to develop and implement a plan that will give you peace of mind moving forward.
Contact us today for a free consultation.