BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLANNING – PREPARING FOR THE UNEXPECTED

Business-Continuity-Plan

Benefits of Business Continuity Planning

Are you preparing for the future? Is a Business Continuity Plan a part of your company’s growth? If your business had a disaster, could you be up and running within hours, days, weeks, months, or never recover?

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is a proactive plan to avoid and mitigate risks associated with a disruption of operations. It details steps to be taken before, during and after an event to maintain the financial viability of an organization. Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is a reactive plan for responding after an event. This plan should provide guidelines for emergency responses, extended back-up operations, and post-disaster recovery.

There are many components to a BCP to be considered and here are some key pieces to the plan.

Personnel is your company’s greatest asset and one of the first things to consider. If disaster has struck – has there been loss of life? Has a key member of your management staff had a crisis? Did you have an active shooter situation at your place of business? How are the staff coming together following a crisis? Do they have the proper training to know what to do in the event of a disaster? As a leader having a plan is critical. Your staff looks to you for guidance on what happens next. They can remain calm and execute a plan if a plan exists and they are properly trained.

Communication – how will staff, vendors and the company as a whole communicate if all phone lines are down? What is your plan if you have no email access? Do you have a phone chain or text message chain established?

Technology – is your information in the cloud or is there a secondary data center outside of your building? How will staff access email and critical information to keep your company running? This includes A/R and A/P, proposals, proprietary information, etc. Who can access what information?

Facilities – have you made arrangements for housing of key personnel and employees if necessary? Taking care of your employees and their families will help them remain calm, committed to business recovery and ultimately create loyalty to you as the business owner. If your building was destroyed – do you have a backup location in mind or will staff be able to work remotely?

Have you set up electronic payment systems to continue to send and receive payments? Will you need to resort to manual operations? If so – what might that look like?

Different than a BCP, a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is a documented process or set of procedures to recover and protect a business IT infrastructure and other operations necessary to run your business in the event of a disaster. Such a plan, ordinarily documented in written form, specifies procedures an organization is to follow in the event of a disaster.

The City of Baltimore has made national news recently regarding their vulnerability in regard to a cyber-attack, but businesses and government should also consider other types of risk such as fires and flooding that could affect their day to day operations.

As we have recently seen of the floods and hurricanes in various parts of the country, in Western Pennsylvania we think we are safe from disaster. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Every day there are new stories of flooding, burst pipes, fires, landslides, hacking, tech outages, downtime, and data loss – even at the best of companies. Are you prepared to do business if today you walked into work and there had been an electrical surge that fried all your computers?

No matter what the cause of the disaster, the organizations that manage them most effectively, and with the least amount of collateral damage, are those with a strategic Business Continuity Plan and a comprehensive, easy-to-follow, and regularly tested Disaster Recovery Plan.

No one wants to think gloom and doom, but I hope these questions will offer food for thought as you look to put together a program for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery testing. Execution of a best thought out plan will ensure your business can remain “Open for Business” should disaster strike.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior-level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development strategies, website creation and management, social media management, marketing, strategic planning, and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

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