You are ready to begin writing an effective business continuity plan (BCP) for your organization and its critical functions. You have followed our advice on how to communicate your business continuity program to senior executives. You know that business continuity planning is a process that begins with a thorough business impact analysis (BIA). You’ll also know you’re at the home stretch when you have written the training plan for your team and set in motion the periodic review to keep your plan viable as your business grows and changes.
Between the BIA and the automatic review, you have lots of work to do. You’re feeling pretty good about yourself and have a clear vision of how BCP fits into your business. But how can you get everything going without collaboration and cooperation between all the elements of your organization?
You can’t. You need to collaborate, cooperate, and spread the good news about how your business continuity program can keep the organization’s people, processes, and business safe. Ready.gov provides a four-step description of the BCP planning process. We will elaborate on those steps and how collaborating can help the process be successful.
Step 1: Conduct a BIA
Identify critical business functions as well as the business processes that support those functions. The BIA is your tool to predict the consequences of disruption to all or part of your business. You gather information needed for recovery strategies and identify loss scenarios as a risk assessment. The risk assessment involves a realistic approach to detect potential sources of business disruptions, with a priority focus on human safety.
The risk assessment identifies natural hazards (fires, floods, loss of IT, etc.) and damage to company property. Also, the BIA needs to state the impact of those hazards and the potential harm to your people and the business, both monetarily and to your reputation and customer base.
You could jump-start your risk assessment by setting up your business continuity team (Step 3) right away. Or you could circulate BIA Impact Analysis Worksheets to your managers and key people in the business. The worksheets are a good starting point in identifying what would happen to the entire company if something under their responsibility was stopped suddenly. They also promote early buy-in as your efforts in collaboration continue.
Step 2: Develop recovery strategies
If the business is going to get back in line quickly, your collaborative BCP must identify the resources required to restore business operations following a disaster. Distribute the Business Continuity Resource Requirements Worksheet for that purpose.
In addition to materials, your recovery strategy needs to identify critical business processes. Based on your consultation and collaboration across organizational lines, you will also have determined critical business processes and the resources your business needs to operate at different levels. For example, if disaster strikes, what would happen to your supply stream? What are the most essential materials your manufacturing operation needs? How many days’ supply does your warehouse stock?
So, recovery strategies involve tagging resources that consist of people, facilities, equipment, materials, and information technology. They could include contracting with outside suppliers or entering into reciprocal or partnership agreements, along with modifying or displacing other activities within the company.
Step 3: Develop the plan and present it to management
The framework for your plan will mature through the BIA process and the expert collaborative help you receive from others within the business. At this step, it is time to formalize your recovery team membership and distribute the responsibilities identified in Step 2.
Also, in this step, you write the actual plan. In collaboration with your IT experts, you also need to prepare IT disaster recovery procedures. IT encompasses your networks, servers, computers, and mobile devices distributed throughout the company. Your business undoubtedly relies heavily on productivity, financial and enterprise software. Your organization needs IT recovery strategies in place to restore business operations quickly.
Step 4: Do your training and test the plan
Your plan is in writing, and your CEO has signed off on it. The BCP makes sense and is focused on your business, as well as suited for your local conditions and reasonable contingencies. In Step 4, your goal is to train everyone involved so that the plan stays fresh and current and does not become overtaken by attrition or changes in company priorities or functions.
Your training plan must encompass all employees, your Emergency Response/Business Continuity Team and employees designated for crisis communications. Your training consists of employee orientation, disaster readiness drills and table-top simulations. See the suggested training matrix in the ready.gov online article.
A distinct element of part four is the review, maintenance, and updating of the plan. Your collaboration across company lines of responsibility will eventually result in BCP becoming part of the company culture. That culture will remain in place when everyone involved in the BCP owns it and believes in it. Part of the BCP plan must include a requirement for periodical review or automatic triggers when the company takes on new products, goals, and objectives.
More on the collaborative approach to BCP
Philippa Chappell, a BCP guru at ContinuitySA describes how to integrate what is necessary to become resilient—“to be able to anticipate, adapt and respond” to changes or disruptions. The challenge, according to Chappell, is “while each of these three components or organizational resilience is critical, they are typically the responsibility of different role-players.” Specifically:
- Anticipating involves scoping the landscape of the threat, and the risk management department usually handles that.
- Adapting focuses on operational resilience is a responsibility of the COO and individual departments.
- The third element, response, is your responsibility as the business continuity manager.
While Chappell notes that the obvious way to overcome threats is, among other things, collaboration and working closely. The BCP can be the catalyst to integrate the response as part of company readiness and culture. Collaboration leads to awareness.
Coupling collaboration with the BCP process can make BCP part of your business culture. Your goal is to get all your teams and departments on board. You involve top management because the mission of BCP is to support the company. BCP is one of the three components to strengthening organizational resilience.
Finally, don’t forget other players
In your business continuity planning it is crucial to include vendors, customers, and communication carriers. IT and network vendors are also key players in helping your company maintain business continuity. Leave them out of the picture, and you could overlook ways to build redundancy and backup when you need it.
It may be possible to do the planning and write the BCP without consultation and collaboration with the people the plan will affect. But those people have years of experience and insights on the business processes the BCP seeks to preserve. Likewise, there is an old military aphorism that goes, “Those who help you plan the fight won’t fight the plan.” You get your buy-in through effective collaboration. You avoid weak links by including everyone in the process.
Do you need help creating an effective business continuity plan?
Bryghtpath can help.
Our process gleans the best of our collective 50 years of experience helping Fortune 500 companies and large nonprofits successfully build and mature their business continuity and crisis management capabilities to respond to emergent crises and threats.
With customized help from our tight-knit team of business continuity experts, we can help you ditch the “scare factor” in modernizing your continuity capabilities so you can face your next crisis (or board meeting) with confidence. Learn more about our approach and thought process around business continuity in our Ultimate Guide to Business Continuity.
Contact us today for a discussion about how we might be able to work together.