By: Cesilia Faustina
In times of the Coronavirus, many businesses are forced to work remotely, if not shut down completely. This situation is taking a toll on many industries and the economy. It is important in times like these that companies prepare themselves for what’s to come, not only during such outbreaks but also afterwards.
This is where business continuity planning (BCP) comes in. BCP is very crucial in these times, and whether you are a small business or big corporate company, you need to be prepared and aware.
What is business continuity planning (BCP)?
BCP is a process of creating a system to prevent and recover from potential threats to the company. Such a plan will ensure that any assets are protected and will be able to function quickly once the adversity subsides.
This procedure may cover things from your human resources, partners, business processes and more; in relation to any instructions that need to be followed in times of crisis.
Now, it’s important to remember that this process does not solely stop at, say fixing broken infrastructure or restoring operations, it requires more. This process covers the whole operation, from analysis to planning; it focuses on ensuring continuity for the company as a whole.
How to create a business continuity plan?
In order to get started, you have to follow a few necessary steps.
You need to do a full analysis of your company and its business operations, as in what are the biggest risks could your company face and what are its most vulnerable points.
You can do this by creating a worksheet or a check list. First of all, you can identify the impacts such adversity can do to your company, both operational and financially, and then identifying the cause of those impacts, both on an individual level and an operational level.
CIO identifies this process into six different steps:
- Identify the scope of plan.
- Identify key business areas.
- Identify critical functions.
- Identify dependencies between various business areas and functions.
- Determine acceptable downtime for each critical function.
- Create a plan to maintain operations.
A risk analysis is the most important part of creating your BC plan, without it, it would be difficult to determine the steps needed and have your business running efficiently after adversity.
Business recovery plan
Once the main factors have been identified, such as the risk your business may face and the impacts of those risks, you can start thinking about a recovery plan. Based on the analysis conducted, you would need to implement the right tactics and steps to recover critical business functions.
This may include steps to recover any revenue loss during the COVID-19 outbreak, for example. Such measures can be mitigated with remote system operations that still provide conducive services to any clients and an efficient workspace for employees.
The next steps to take will be based on the risk assessment conducted, focusing on some of the most vulnerable aspects of your company that may be affected.
It is always smart to create a team to help you mitigate the issue at hand. It is surely clear that all employees will need to get involved, but handling a big group of people all at once in a time of crisis is no easy job. Having a team to help implement the steps and point your personnel in the right direction is always a good idea.
This may be done for example, based on sectors or divisions, such as a person in charge of marketing, sales, business partners, products and more; they will be acting as the representative of each sector, working together to ensure that the company will still be able to work together as a whole.
This process can help to ensure continuity within the company and ensure operation are still running smoothly. The task force will represent the functionality of your whole business.
Being on the taskforce may seem like a lot of pressure and responsibility, which is why good training is needed. This is the part where the task force will need to be tested and educated on what to do.
There needs to be multiple scenarios and simulations to ensure that they are ready for anything that happens; this also includes testing out the task force in different risk scenarios. Having a BC plan is needed at all times, not only during the time of Coronavirus, different risk assessments of disasters need to be tested to ensure that your company is prepared for any situation.
Another thing to remember is the need for an informational database amongst all personnel, as in contact number, emails, position and more. This will be especially crucial for your task force to provide, as employees will most likely need to contact them directly in need of support. You should distribute any necessary information about your continuity team in order for employees to communicate with them.
This does not apply only to the continuity team however, it is also crucial that your team members have access to each other. You may not have your company server up and running and you might be required to work from your home server, therefore, you would need to have access to the employees’ most reachable contact information or any emergency contact information.
It is a good idea to have this distributed amongst the organization’s staff members, and even amongst your clients or business partners.
In addition, also ensure that your task force and other team members have access to any backup resources needed. As mentioned, your servers might not be working and your team members will need to have access to company resources related to their departments, so ensure that a resource database is always available.
BCP is important for the continuity of a business, and it is especially important to get all your employees and staff aware of the plan for it to be successful. In the end, BCP is co-dependent on good communication and workflow of all parties involved within the business; something for everybody to think about in times like these.