Creating and Writing a Business Continuity Plan
Prepare for the Future With a Business Continuity Plan
As a small business owner, it’s important to be aware of the ways in which a disaster could affect your business. From a cyber attack to a hurricane, preparation for any type of disaster is the key to keeping your business running. One of the best ways to prepare is to create a business continuity plan well before a disaster strikes.
With a solid continuity plan in place, you can rest assured your business will continue humming along, even as you repair and rebuild. Learn how to create a business continuity plan for any incident to ensure you’re adequately prepared to continue operating as usual, no matter what disaster you’re dealing with.
What Is a Business Continuity Plan?
A business continuity plan is a plan that outlines how your business will continue functioning after any disruption of normal operations. The plan outlines the systems and procedures you’ll activate and put in place after an emergency, natural disaster, or another disruption (including cyberattacks) occurs.
When you follow your business continuity plan, your business and employees should be able to continue working while you repair and rebuild. With a plan in place, you ensure you can continue selling and servicing customers with the same ease, accuracy, and timeline your business provided before the disaster occurred.
What Is the Primary Goal of Business Continuity Planning?
When you create a business continuity plan, your main goal should be to ensure your business can continue running at optimal performance after a disaster has occurred. Your plan should include detailed instructions, procedures, and processes that you and your staff can follow to keep working, even after an emergency.
The business continuity procedures you’ll need to implement may vary, depending on the disaster or disruption you experience. Common occurrences that could negatively impact your business include the following:
- Natural disasters.
- Utility outages.
When you have a thorough business continuity plan in place that addresses these occurrences, you’ll keep your staff working and your customers happy as you address the damages.
What Does a Business Continuity Plan Typically Include?
The elements included in your business continuity plan depend on the type of business you have and the specific processes and actions that keep it running smoothly and successfully. A useful continuity plan should be realistic and easy to follow. It should provide detailed steps that outline how to continue working during a disaster.
Since the effects of a disaster aren’t easily predicted, the business continuity plan should also be adaptable and easily edited as needed. Your plan should include several back-up options or alternative procedures to address different scenarios. A reliable business continuity plan provides efficient and convenient ways for the business to remain productive after a disaster.
How to Write a Business Continuity Plan
To create your own business continuity plan, you’ll need to analyze your current business practices. Following the steps detailed below will ensure your continuity plan is comprehensive and easy to implement when needed.
Identify the Scope and Goals of the Plan
Consider how your business currently functions and what processes could be negatively affected by a disaster. List the employees, systems, and procedures that keep your business running, employees working, and customers satisfied.
If you think these procedures may be affected by a disaster, you’ll need to target them in your plan and provide alternative ways to ensure they can still be followed. Outline the goals of your business continuity plan, such as ensuring you can fulfill orders or continue producing goods. Be sure the procedures you include in the plan thoroughly address how to achieve these goals during a disaster.
Create an Emergency Preparedness Team
If you’re busy working with insurance adjusters and commercial restoration professionals after a disaster, you may not have time to improvise and troubleshoot around every challenge or consideration your business faces. Before a disaster occurs, designate a few reliable employees within your business to help.
Train these employees on how to deal with emergencies and go over the business continuity plan with them to ensure they understand how to implement it. With an emergency preparedness team, you won’t be the only person who can delegate the implementation of your continuity plan and adjust it as needed, which frees up your time to deal with repairs and other issues.
Identify Key Business Areas and Perform Risk and Impact Assessments
In some cases, you may not have ways to modify the way you do business after a disaster. If you have to eliminate certain services or procedures, your business continuity plan should address these issues.
Perform a risk and impact assessment with your team to identify the tasks that may be neglected after a disaster. Consider how you’ll address these issues and how you could potentially modify services to lessen the impact. For example, if you’re dealing with water damage in your storefront and can’t allow customers into your retail space, consider sidewalk sales until the flooding damage is remediated.
Identify Critical Business Functions and Prepare a Plan For Each
Chances are the success of your business relies on several functions, such as marketing, accounting, and administration. Identify all the critical functions within your business and create a plan to ensure they’ll continue to thrive, even after a disaster. You may need to rely on outside vendors or online processes to ensure your business continues to function.
Create a Plan to Maintain Operations
Keeping your business operations running smoothly during a disaster is the only way to maintain customer satisfaction and continue attracting prospective clients. Consider all the operations you need to continue performing so you can serve customers seamlessly, such as shipping and communication.
Then, address each operation and implement an alternative plan to ensure you can still provide these services adequately. You may need to involve subcontractors, switch your suppliers, or use different shipping options.
Train Staff and Stakeholders
Review the business continuity plan with your staff and stakeholders for feedback. Train your staff on the alternative procedures that may need to be put in place in the case of a disaster. With training on how to implement these new processes, your staff can seamlessly follow the steps in your business continuity plan without incident.
Update the Plan as Needed
When you perform trial runs with your staff, be open to changing your plan if specific steps aren’t efficient. Disasters are unpredictable and additional issues may arise when you’re dealing with an emergency.
Remain flexible and ready to update your business continuity plan with each situation. For example, if a disaster caused water damage and you need to close the office for professional mold removal, you may need to revise your continuity plan to include work-from-home procedures for your staff.
Technological and natural disasters can bring your business to its knees. However, with a comprehensive, realistic, and flexible business continuity plan in place, you’ll ensure your customers are satisfied and your employees are productive, even after a disaster.