Benjamin Franklin put it perfectly when he coined the phrase, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”
For most business leaders, planning is in their DNA. Whether it’s developing strategic business, marketing, or project plans, planning can be the underlying factor that determines the ultimate success or failure of a business.
While the benefits of developing plans to drive a business forward are obvious, planning for the unexpected is just as, if not more important.
What would you do if tomorrow you couldn’t access your office building? What would you do if you faced a major system malfunction? How would you handle a cyber-attack?
While it’s impossible to plan for every possible scenario, a business continuity plan acts as a guide to help you navigate a range of situations and come out the other side with your business still intact.
Fundamentals Of BCP That You Should Aware Of
If you’re developing a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) for the first time, here are a few of the key things you need to consider.
1. Disaster Recovery
Consider how you will address the issue itself. A good strategy is to establish a disaster management and response team whose sole focus is to address the underlying problem.
The people included in this group will vary depending on the nature of what you’re dealing with. Still, it may consist of key managers, personnel with an intimate knowledge of the building and maintenance practices, IT specialists who know how to rebuild key infrastructure, or forensic security experts.
By establishing a dedicated response team, you’ll have confidence that the underlying problem is actively being addressed while you focus on addressing other pertinent issues.
2. Service Delivery
While the definition of what ‘service delivery’ entails will vary based on the individual industry and business model, it’s essential to consider how your business will continue to provide products or services with limited capacity.
Some common strategies businesses adopt to ensure they can continue to deliver services in any scenario include:
- structuring their business operations over multiple sites in different locations, allowing the business to continue to deliver ‘skeleton’ services if one or more locations became inoperable,
- developing infrastructure which allows staff to work remotely from home or another location if their primary place of business was inaccessible, or
- engaging a third-party provider to deliver BPO services on your behalf. BPO service providers can support your business through difficult periods by providing live call answering services to keep your customer service lines covered, or performing a range of administrative and other business functions.
Your BCP should also consider how you will keep your stakeholders updated throughout a disruption.
The same message won’t be suitable for every stakeholder group, so it’s important to tailor your communications to the individual audience. For example, you could tailor different messages to:
- internal managers and executives
- key external stakeholders such as shareholders, major customers, third-party service providers, or partner agencies general stakeholders such as low-value customers or the general public.
You should also identify the different channels you can use to communicate with different audiences.
For example, regular teleconference updates may be suitable to keep the executive informed, email updates could be sent to your customer database, or you could publish updates on social media to reach a wider audience.
Generally, your communications should aim to provide an overview of:
- what happened,
- what you’re doing to address the issue, and
- how you will continue to operate in the interim until the issue is resolved.
It’s also important to be sympathetic to any inconveniences your stakeholders may be experiencing as a result of the disruption.
4. Employee Health And Well Being
It’s also important to consider the impact a major issue can have on your staff mentally, physically, and emotionally.
While employees may each perceive and experience an event differently, it’s your role to ensure they receive adequate support and assistance to ensure their health and safety.
While it may not always be feasible for small to medium businesses, most large businesses offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to support staff in these types of scenarios by providing counseling and other assistance if they need it.
For smaller businesses, simply taking the time to listen to the concerns of your staff can help you identify ways to support them throughout the disruption.