Ensuring business continuity during an emergency is simply good business. For everyone.
Business continuity planning (BCP) is a critical component of emergency preparedness. Hands down, no exceptions. Literally, every organization in the world that provides a product or service, interacts with customers or community members, or generally, you know, exists at the whim of others, must have a business continuity plan in place. Without it, interruptions caused by any sort of emergency—be it an act of nature or a failure of technology—can cause catastrophic losses to an organization: in revenue, resources, employee and customer trust, and brand perception. In other words, BCP is an integral component of a good business strategy and also makes good business sense.
So. Now that I have your attention, let’s explore what business continuity planning is and what it entails.
Having a business continuity plan ensures your critical services and functions are delivered during an incident. It provides alternative strategies and workarounds to address an interruption with your people, facilities, equipment and technology. When preparing your plan, the following factors should be considered:
- What are the hazards and risks that might affect my business and community? Are they sudden, like an earthquake, or would they allow for some lead-in time, like a pandemic?
- What are my key business functions and processes?
- Who performs these functions?
- What is type of equipment or facility is required to perform these functions?
- Which critical applications and data are my organization dependent upon?
- Who supports the performance of these functions—employees, suppliers?
- Who uses the output of these functions—employees, clients?
Answering these questions will enable you to craft a business continuity plan. Like all plans, it must be exercised and trained-on regularly, and updated based on learnings and real-world experience. This contributes to an effective emergency response, should an incident occur, by building employee knowledge and confidence, promoting ownership and engagement, validating capabilities and procedures, and identifying strengths and areas for improvement.
Business continuity planning provides an opportunity for organizations to strengthen their business and engage with their people. Regardless of whether an emergency is triggered by a malfunctioning sprinkler system that’s flooding your office, or a wildfire that is threatening employees and communities, BCPs help provide the confidence and trust organizations need during and after an emergency event. In addition, by planning to protect and deliver your services or products during an emergency, you are demonstrating and reinforcing your value to your customers and the community at large. A robust and comprehensive BCP ensures continuity beyond unforeseen circumstances. Indeed, the positive outcomes will create a legacy of unforeseen benefits long into the future.