Do You Have a Business Continuity Plan?

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.

North America has seen its fair share of natural and man-made disasters over the last decade. And with the warm weather of summer comes an increased risk of severe storms here in the Midwest. An effective business continuity plan helps ensure that a company can restore mission-critical functions following all types of calamities, such as natural disasters and power failures.

Amazingly, though, many companies don’t have such a plan. If your business is among them, it’s time to implement one. Lacking an adequate strategy for coping with disaster not only can hurt your company’s ability to compete — it can end your company’s existence.

To prepare your business for the worst, conduct an operational assessment to determine which departments, processes and personnel are essential to your staying up and running. For example, you likely maintain substantial systems for e-mail, telecommunications and data storage. To ensure your company stays open following an emergency, establish an off-site facility where these processes can continue to occur. The facility should house hardware and software vital to overcoming various disaster scenarios, as well as essential documents for all the company’s business processes.

Your plan will succeed only if you mitigate as many issues and risks as possible. Implement an issues-tracking system and immediately discuss issues as they come up. Doing so will allow team members to solve problems faster. Also, conduct periodic risk reviews. These are brainstorming sessions where team members try to anticipate and prevent potential dangers.

Most important, keep it simple. Although you need to plan for as many situations as you can, if your business continuity plan is too complex it will likely be ignored the minute people start panicking. Craft a plan that’s easy to follow in times of crisis — and easy to update anytime else.

Tell us the steps you've taken to prepare for disasters or emergencies in the comments below - we'd like to hear your ideas.


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