The importance of business continuity planning has grown significantly over the past few years with the explosion
of the Internet, e-commerce and non-stop applications. Just a few years ago, customers were willing to tolerate 24 hours of downtime. Today, most companies need to recover within hours and demand that a full complement of capabilities be maintained during disaster conditions.
To be successful, your organization’s business continuity plan must be an integral part of your strategic operating plan. It must become a philosophy, a culture, a mindset and a way of life. A predefined continuity plan hastens recovery with solutions that are carefully thought out beforehand, thereby eliminating hasty decisions made under stressful conditions. By providing a more rational, fact-based procedure for decision making, planning allows the opportunity to minimize risk and uncertainty.
To maximize your chances of successful recovery, combine your business continuity plan with proper insurance coverage such as business interruption, extra expense and contingent business interruption coverage. A strategic business continuity plan should provide the guidance needed to minimize downtime and organize the resources needed to plan a prompt recovery.
This guide is a brief introduction to the concept of business continuity planning. The suggestions and guidelines for preparing a business continuity plan tailored to your particular needs are an overview of the concept rather than a detailed methodology. In this guide, the term “business” applies to virtually all economic activities in both the private and public sectors.
A fire, tornado, earthquake or explosion could seriously damage your building. Floods originating inside or outside your building could affect your operations. A prolonged power outage, sabotaged computer system or damaged equipment can also shut down an organization. Your managers and employees could be killed or badly injured. Your facilities, inventory and essential information could be inaccessible for a prolonged period. Any event, big or small, may cause an interruption in your business operation.
Long-lasting business relationships are fading in the face of global competition, customer demands and shifting markets. If business interruption occurs, the ability of your business to survive may be threatened. Unless you are prepared to respond immediately, your employees, suppliers, and customers may go elsewhere. Before that happens, arm yourself with the best defense – a well prepared and practiced business continuity plan.
Senior management must be actively involved in the development of the business continuity plan and must do the following:
A project coordinator develops the plan with input from managers and employees at all levels involved in implementing the plan. Assign someone to keep the plan updated and to implement it if necessary. A business continuity plan is not overwhelming if you first develop a schedule and work on the plan in stages. It is not a
“one-shot” project, but rather an integral part of an effective business strategy. A completed plan should be reviewed, tested and updated regularly if it is to be effective when put into action.
If business interruption occurs, the ability of your business to survive may be threatened unless you are
prepared to respond immediately.
Test the plan. Update the plan regularly based on test results and organizational changes. Testing is crucial to determining whether your plan will work as intended in a real disaster or crisis situation.