When you think about running a business, you probably imagine long and challenging days filled with difficult decisions, endless red tape, and sleepless nights. But what you probably don’t imagine is your company going bankrupt or being destroyed by an unexpected natural disaster or pandemic.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 66% of businesses had a business continuity plan in place, but 76% of them reported their business continuity plans were ineffective because they were not designed to address the challenges of a pandemic.
Creating a business continuity and disaster recovery plan is a smart step to take before the worst happens, and ensures the risk of business failure is reduced. A business continuity plan helps you identify potential risks, understand your exposure to those risks, and put in place procedures to protect your business assets and employees from the worst outcomes.
How can you create a business continuity plan that prepares your business for any type of disaster or unforeseen event so that you are prepared no matter what happens? The following business continuity checklist can help your business get disaster ready.
Business continuity planning overview
Many organizations believe that they are well prepared for business continuity because they have a disaster recovery plan. However, their disaster recovery plan (DRP) usually focuses mostly on restoring their IT infrastructure and doesn’t typically address key areas such as sales, marketing, human resources, and customer relations. Disaster recovery is vital to getting your business back on its feet after a crisis but it is one component of an entire business continuity plan.
Perhaps your business felt the impact of the pandemic enough to convince you to create a business continuity plan or your current one needs updating. No matter what business interruption may strike, we’ve outlined a business continuity plan checklist to help you create an effective plan.
1. Assess your business processes
The most effective way to begin creating a business continuity plan is to identify which processes are most vulnerable to disaster and assess your business’s operations. This will help you determine the scope of your plan and identify the employees and departments that should be involved in creating and implementing it.
2. Conduct a business impact analysis
Consider the physical, financial, and operational consequences of a significant disruption in your company. Create a list of potential consequences, such as damage to the company’s reputation, lost revenue, regulatory fines, and so on. Whenever possible, quantify these risks with a monetary cost.
3. Create prevention strategies
Preemptive measures can be taken based on your business impact analysis, detailing any preventative measures that can be taken before a disruptive event occurs. This may include identifying remote working solutions and ensuring critical data is on the cloud.
4. Identify critical equipment
Identify in your business continuity plan the equipment required to keep the business running, including generators, laptops, servers, cell phones, personal safety equipment, facilities, specialized equipment or machinery, emergency medical supplies, and more. Can you access that equipment or get it quickly from a vendor if there’s a disruption?
5. Determine how to access crucial data
It’s imperative to understand where and how your data is stored so that you might resume operations. You should establish policies for consistently backing up your data, securing your data, and using cloud computing.
6. Plan to communicate with employees
There must be open communication between leaders and employees in the event of a disruption or disaster, and employees must be informed of the risks and mitigation strategies.
When detailing your business continuity plan, identify the team members who will be responsible for messaging, who will be responsible for contacting employees, and how the company will contact employees during different scenarios (email, phone, video conferencing, social media, and so on). Regular, open communication during a disaster builds trust and encourages employees to remain productive.
7. Plan to communicate with clients and customers
During and after a disaster, how will you distribute information to and collect information from your clients? Consider whether your customers and clients may be affected by the same disruption event. How will you focus on recovering your operations while handling higher volumes of calls, emails, and client needs?
It is crucial to keep customers informed about any impacts on product or service delivery and maintain open lines of communication.
8. Provide ongoing training and conduct annual reviews
In addition to a checklist, any business continuity plan must include training and reviews. Make sure that all employees have the training they need once your business continuity plan is finished. Employees should receive an elementary education in the procedures, as well as practice them. At least once a year, review your business continuity plan to make sure it still aligns with your current employees, procedures, and technology.
Business continuity with the experts
An effective business continuity plan and a robust backup and data recovery plan can prevent the worst from happening when disaster strikes, whether it is a cybersecurity incident or the impact of a natural disaster. For peace of mind and a comprehensive business continuity plan to protect your organization’s operations and data, contact the business continuity experts at Aquarius IQ and be prepared for the unexpected.