While it may not be fun to consider the worst-case scenario, it is important that you have a plan to ensure that your business will be able to survive when the chips are down. This plan to ensure that your business will continue is called (appropriately enough) a business continuity plan, and needs to address a few things that we will go over here.
In order to really be effective, a business continuity plan needs to be comprehensive - otherwise, your operations will still be interrupted when you encounter a lack of some resource that you need access to. A complete plan will document the following considerations and the strategies for completing them:
- Threat Matrix - The first thing your plan should address is the variety of threats it might face, from the mundane events that can be mitigated with relatively little effort to the catastrophic, do-or-die disasters that require in-depth planning and proactive activities to weather. This portion of your plan should acknowledge these threats and propose your company’s response to them.
- Critical Processes - Every business has workflows, chains of command, and other processes that it requires to properly operate. Your business continuity plan needs to both identify and detail these processes so they are able to continue with minimal interruption.
- Command Chain - Or in other words, who’s in charge. A hierarchy of authority is crucial to the continuation of the business as someone needs to be in command, and equally importantly, have it be common knowledge that they are in command to avoid grandstanding. Otherwise, nothing can or will be accomplished.
- Employee Safety and Evacuation Plan - In order for business to continue, there has to be someone there to continue it. A business continuity plan needs to have a dedicated section that addresses how and when to evacuate employees to ensure their safety in a dangerous situation.
- Communication Plan and Contact Information - Anyone associated with your company, from your employee to your clients to your business partners, needs to be kept in the loop throughout whatever scenario is in play. Your plan needs to address when, how, and why different contacts should be updated.
- Backup Processes and Location - In order for your business continuity preparations to be complete, you should be maintaining a backup somewhere offsite - ideally in a cloud solution. Another piece of your plan should be dedicated to ensuring that this backup can be accessed. This also pertains to the possibility of identifying a backup location to turn to when your original offices are uninhabitable in order to resume at least some semblance of productivity.
- Inventory and Infrastructure - There are a lot of pieces to the typical workplace infrastructure, including hardware and software. Therefore, you need to be sure that you can reliably identify the inventory and infrastructure you had for both insurance purposes and to acquire replacements.
- End of Incident Criteria - Just like you need to know when something crosses the line over to “disaster,” you need to know when the disaster ends. Creating a list of conditions that must be met before reviewing the damage and beginning recovery will allow you to more efficiently begin the process, without jumping the gun and taking more damage.
- Post-Incident Debriefing - Finally, when the dust has settled, you need to survey the damage and deliberate how things could have been handled better. Take the opportunity to review your business continuity strategy and make any changes and improvements. Your business continuity plan should also include a template to create a questionnaire to have your contacts fill out to give you the maximum amount of feedback and insight. This will allow you to make your plan better, in case of “next time.”
If you see to proactively considering, strategizing, and documenting these facets to your plan, you will have a much greater chance of a successful recovery. BNMC can assist you with the technological aspects of it. Give us a call at 978-482-2020 for more information, or to get an evaluation of your current solutions.