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Interested in ensuring continuity of preparedness for your business?

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Q&A

1. What is Business Continuity and why is it important to me?

Business Continuity for your organization is a collection of plans designed to keep your organization working as you or your team addresses a problem that caused a work interruption.
The BCPWest definition: planning for the continuation of work in any of your processes, no matter if the work interruption is small (pothole) or large (sinkhole). BCPWest approaches every plan by defining the process (including tools and supplies) and the team members and partner organizations that are critical to the process affected.

2. What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

A recovery plan would be those steps an organization would take after a business interruption to return the organization to a “new normal” status.
The BCPWest definition: A Disaster Recovery plan would address those processes that have been prioritized as critical to the operation of the organization.
The plan would include which parts of the process are critical, tools and team members needed, and an estimated timeline or criteria to bring the other processes back into operation.

3. What kinds of businesses are best served by implementing Business Continuity and Crisis/Disaster Recovery plans?

Any organization that wants to prevent or manage a work interruption needs to think about a Business Continuity as well as a Crisis/Disaster Recovery Plan. Solopreneurs, small businesses, nonprofits, and large organizations are all potential organizations for planning. The scope and depth of planning should be adjusted to the size and culture of the organization.

4. I only have a staff of six; aren’t I too small to need a business continuity plan?

Even a solopreneur needs planning.

  • Start with your general business plan and look at the potential items in the plan that could cause a work interruption. For example, what is your legal definition and who maintains that documentation?
  • The processes you utilize to deliver your product would be the second area to review: who’s trained, who is backup, are any of the supply vendors “single source,” who is doing quality checks? etc.
  • If your team has home offices or mobile offices, what is their backup power plan?

5. How do I know if my crisis plan is comprehensive enough?

All plans need to be shared with the team(s), training on the plans/processes, exercised and tested.
At BCPWest, we are advocates of lunchtime walk-through exercises (also sometimes called “tabletop exercises”). For example, take one department or team, feed them lunch and then ask them to walk through the various steps they would take in a crisis or disruptive scenario. List all the questions they have, problems they see with any existing plans, and what they would do next. This will give you a working plan that the team will feel ownership in and confident in executing.

6. Some of my employees work from home and some work remotely from other states. How do I ensure that they are made aware of important continuity updates?

It is important that your general communication plan includes these categories of personnel.
All employees or contractors need to know about the following basic items that impact their personal safety in their work environments: proper chair, desk, lighting, and power source, regular tool maintenance, an articulated fire or tornado drill, etc. (Note that any changes to these would affect the “continuity” of the organization)

  • Their work process: what is the process, who is their backup, what are their tools or software, where do they get their supplies, etc.?
  • What is their work schedule, what is their project schedule?
  • How does their work fit into the overall organization?
  • Where does their work effort fit into a recovery effort? Is it a high-priority process and are they considered “key” personnel?
  • Organizational rules, employee handbook, etc.

7. When do I need to start worrying about a Business Continuity or Crisis/Disaster Recovery plan?

Yesterday.

  • When you are considering a new organization you need to do Business Intelligence research. This should include why businesses or organizations in your particular industry fail. This type of information should be included in your Business Plan and should outline how your new organization will address these.
  • If you have an existing organization but have no planning in place, we recommend you start with one department or team and document the work process of that team. Which process to review is your choice: one that appears to be stable or one that is the most critical to the organization.

8. Who on my team is important to include in my business continuity and crisis planning?

If you start with each process or department, the answer is the team – they are the ones that will need to execute the plan. You should also consider having your advisor team (attorney, banker, CPA, and insurance representative) review the plans or sit in on a lunchtime tabletop exercise session, to get a fresh set of eyes to spot gaps.

9. My company has a communications plan in place, but it’s pretty old. How often should it be reviewed/updated?

An overall communications plan should be comprised of multiple plans. Each of these plans needs to be refreshed when the audience, the team executing the plan, the media charged with delivering communication, or the topics outlined in the plans have changed, or once per year for currency.

  • The audience list should be reviewed for each plan or message. If it’s customers or prospective customers, you’ll want to update based on your industry. Monthly would be the normal cycle.
  • The staff authorized to execute the plans should have a tabletop exercise at least once per year to ensure they are familiar with the process and media.
  • Ensure the media team responsible for all the communication plans has good input to and from the communication team on any technology changes. This would cause a review of the individual plan.
  • You should have templates for any of the messages within the communication plan and these should be reviewed at least once a year for currency.