It does not cost a business anything to establish a business continuity plan or BCP, and it can definitely prove worthwhile in the long run in the event that a disaster were to occur and curtail regular activities. Such a plan is designed to outline how employees will stay in contact with each other and continue to carry out their work if they were suddenly faced with a situation such as a fire or other disaster which renders their normal workplace unusable.
First, it is necessary to determine who the key players are in the company and list each of them along with all forms of contact information including how they can be reached in an emergency. It’s important to know which of these employees will be able to telecommute or work efficiently from home if the need arose as well.
Any outside services the company relies on or does routine business with should also be named in a list. Details of the nature of the service provided and contact information for all chief personnel should be noted. These can include accountants, lawyers, banks, and utility providers to name a few.
It’s important to make a record of all equipment critical to business operations. These can be computers, software programs, fax machines, printers, copiers, and the like. Although this does not mean that it isn’t imperative to also have off-site back-ups of all electronic files too. Likewise, identify all crucial documents and make sure they are kept safe. Examples could be legal papers, articles of incorporation, lease agreements, and HR documents that would be required for re-establishing the company if it came to that.
There also needs to be a contingency plan that stipulates where the company could temporarily rent replacement equipment if theirs was destroyed or damaged. Deciding on a suitable temporary location, is also advisable unless telecommuting is preferred. This site must be known to all employees and they must be fully aware of its exact address.
Delegating specific duties to staff members and listing the duties beside the appropriate person’s name is recommended. It’s paramount that all of the information for the BCP be kept together as one unified reference document such as a binder, and each employee should be provided with a copy and another should be kept in a safe off-site place such as a safety deposit box.
The BCP will be useless if it is not fully understood by all staff. It’s important to hold a training class to familiarize them with the plan and make sure everyone is in the know. Having it on paper is not enough, it will be necessary to actually test it out on a day which is made known to all. If problems come up, changes are needed.
Once changes are made in the business continuity plan, it should be tested again until all the pieces fit together. Testing it every year is important even when it is working efficiently. Revisions are an inevitability and will need to be made from time to time, when this happens, they must be reflected in all printed copies. Staying current is vital, as a plan that is not up-to-date can potentially do more harm than good.