A good business continuity plan (BCP) will keep your business functioning through any incident, such as disasters, accidents, or emergencies. Unfortunately, because of the infrequent use of the plan, it is often neglected. Of course, companies keep it “up-to-date” enough to satisfy regulatory standards, or to avoid audits, but that bare minimum is not enough to make a good plan. And trust us, if something happens, you are going to want a good plan. If your plan has any of the qualities below, it is not a plan that is going to function when you need it.
1. Not Prioritized
The first page of your BCP should not be what to do in case of a hurricane if you live in Minnesota. While the plan needs to be thorough, it also needs to be relevant and prioritized. Your BCP should contain steps to maintain or restore all business processes in case of all (possible) incidents, but it should be organized in such a way that processes required for survival are listed first.
Your BCP is a process, not a project; you need to update it as often as your business is updated. Imagine if you had an emergency and your BCP instructed employees to take cover in a room that had been removed last year. That would be bad. Make it a habit to make changes to the plan as soon as the changes in your business occur. That way, the work won’t pile up and you won’t forget something important.
Telling employees about the plan is not enough; in the event of an emergency, no one is going to be clear-minded enough to remember what you said in a meeting a year ago. There should be several hard copies around the office in known locations; digital copies are useless if the power, server, or Internet is down and panicking employees will find comfort in physically holding a copy of the plan.
We all hated fire drills in school, but sometimes we have to do things we don’t like in order to protect ourselves. Your plan should be tested at least once a year, and anytime there is a major change. The good news is that you don’t need to run around the office pretending a hurricane is coming. In fact, it is better not to do that. When you act out possible scenarios you are working on assumptions, which will lead to confused employees if the disaster doesn’t go according to plan. Instead of acting out scenarios, focus on assets. Teach employees what needs to get done and how to do it if some assets are unavailable.
Our advice to you: dust off your BCP, drop the “it won’t happen to us” mentality, and get your business continuity plan in order.