Businesses today face threats from a multitude of places, whether it’s a cyber attack, natural disaster or something as seemingly everyday as a power cut. On the whole, these types of disasters are generally hard to predict and often unavoidable. However, that doesn’t mean a business is unable to plan for a crisis situation.
But how do you prepare for the unexpected? The most common and robust approach is to have a well tested and detailed Business Continuity Plan (BCP).
What is a business continuity plan?
Investopedia defines a BCP as the process involved in creating a system of prevention and recovery from potential threats to a company. The aim of the plan is to ensure that a business can continue to function as normal in the event of a disaster. Consequently, the plan needs to consider all aspects that could affect an organisation’s operations, such as assets, technology and personnel.
Six steps to creating a business continuity plan
The creation of a BCP needs careful consideration in order to create something that addresses your individual business’ needs. However, the below steps should offer you an indication of where to get started and what to include when creating a business continuity plan.
1. Identify the scope of the plan
Define the purpose and scope of the plan. This will be most important for businesses with offices in multiple locations or territories. You will need to define whether the BCP covers all locations or whether this will be territory specific.
2. Identify key business areas
The key areas to focus on for your organisation will depend on your industry and type of business. Retailers may need to include their physical stores in the plan, while a software company will need to focus heavily on technology infrastructure.
Identify who will be responsible for enacting the business continuity plan in the event of a crisis. Ideally, there should be one overall project leader and an identified stakeholder from core departments.
4. Operational strategy
Define a working strategy for all departments. This means talking to your department stakeholders and putting plans in place for business continuity for all teams, software and physical or digital assets. These streams of BCP should then feed into the overall business continuity plan. The plan should also include contact information of all key stakeholders and should include mobile phone numbers. An SMS or phone call are often the most effective and efficient forms of communication in the event of a crisis.
Once the plan has been defined, it is vital that the BCP is clearly communicated to all internal departments. The plan also needs to be documented and saved in an easily accessible place. The key to success is having the plan visible to all stakeholders at all times. In certain situations, it may also be necessary to communicate a version of your BCP to your customers and suppliers.
No matter how much planning goes into creating your BCP, the only way to ensure the plan will properly work is by testing and validating. You should regularly test and amend your business continuity plan, to ensure that everything works as expected and is still relevant to your business operations.
How can SMS be integrated into your BCP?
SMS can be integrated and used in several ways to help support your business during an unexpected situation.
- Ensure staff are safe
- Keep staff informed in a crisis
- Monitor systems 24/7 via auto SMS
- Manage security
- Improve customer communications
- Keep teams connected
- Send alerts
- Preserve resources