Whether you operate a small company or helm a large corporation, every business is susceptible to events beyond its control. Whether it’s a data breach, a weather disaster or communicable disease outbreak, a solid business continuity plan can help minimize the impact on daily operations and help your organization come out on top.
Your business continuity plan is a dynamic tool that documents the procedures and processes to get back to business as quickly as possible. The time spent developing and maintaining a comprehensive plan is an investment in your company. So, from emergency communications to facilities management, make sure these five areas are covered:
#1. Emergency management. Do employees know who’s in charge in the event of an emergency? Are they aware of appropriate measures to take? Even the best employees won’t automatically know what to do without a plan in place. Appropriate emergency responses should be clearly outlined, and test runs and drills made part of your standard operating procedure.
#2. Crisis communications. When a disruption or threat arises, how do you notify your team, customers, vendors and the greater community? Your plan should specifically address notifications, communication channels and expectations regarding any change in business operations.
#3. Facilities maintenance. Office space, storefronts, warehouses — are your facilities equipped to withstand nature’s elements? A continuity plan can help ensure that your facilities are resilient, with the ability to tolerate or recover from the potential damage.
#4. Security. Chances are your critical records and data are stored electronically, so can your IT systems hold up against tampering or hacking? Is company data regularly backed up, both on-site and remotely? Are measures in place to protect your inventory, merchandise or equipment? Keeping physical and intellectual property, data records and other valuable materials safe from harm, theft or loss is another vital function of your business continuity plan.
#5. Health and safety. At the end of the day, what’s more important than the well-being of your employees and customers? If a workplace catastrophe occurs, your people are counting on you to protect them. Your business needs systems in place that offer a line of defense against any conceivable threat.
Room for improvement
Even if your business continuity plan is complete and in effect, your work isn’t done. As technology evolves and employees come and go, the plan should be regularly updated. Experts recommend meeting with key stakeholders annually to review and modify the plan. Then, share it across departments and business units, and gather feedback from the entire company to make sure nothing’s being overlooked. When everyone is on the same page, you can best ensure an organized, safe and timely recovery.
Preparing for the storm
There’s no better test of your organization’s resilience than the occurrence of an adverse event — but don’t wait for disaster to implement or evaluate your plan. Build your defense now, and make it a regular part of your strategic planning processes.