Every successful business continuity plan is going to be different depending on your industry, your company and your unique needs. However, some elements remain the same in all successful plans. Making sure your plan has these must-haves will help ensure you stay up and running when emergencies strike.
Business continuity is not a one-person job; it takes a team. And a supporting team.
The most functional teams are going to know and understand the chain of command. Knowing who is responsible for what actions is important so tasks aren’t duplicated and none fall through the cracks. Your team needs to know how to eliminate cracks by know what they need to do and what others are already doing. Knowing who has authority to make decisions is also vital.
The best business continuity teams are made up with employees from across your organization. Make sure someone from human resources, physical security, communications, finance and any other important departments are all represented on your core team.
Each member of your core team should have a support team that understands the importance of your business continuity plan and their roles in carrying it out.
Getting a team in place is a great step, but without a plan, they won’t have much to do. When you’re creating your plan, make sure you identify potential disruptions and risks, plan for worst case scenarios and prioritize business functions that need attention in emergencies.
Your functions and priorities may change with time. Once you’ve created your plan, be sure to review it regularly to ensure it’s still relevant for your current operations.
Put it to the test
No, you aren’t going to have a tornado or a business fire practice run, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to test your business continuity plan. Practice drills and evacuations at least annually. Use apps or software that can help you simulate disasters to see if there is something you’ve missed.
The business continuity team isn’t the only team that needs to know what needs to happen in an emergency. Everyone has a role, and everyone needs to understand what his or her role is. It might be as simple as evacuating, but employees need to know when and how to evacuate should the time come. They should also know what resources are available should they detect a threat or need answers.
Make sure all employees understand what will be expected of them post-crisis. If they need to call in to let you know they’re safe, train them on where to find the phone numbers they’ll need. Overlooking these simple things beforehand can create chaos after a disaster.
When it comes to business continuity planning, if you plan for the worst, it’s reasonable to hope for the best. No plan will be perfect, but having a good team, an educated workforce and a tested plan will help your business run more smoothly through crisis.