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Why You Need A Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

Business Continuity Management

Rarely do disasters come with advance notice. And whether you are a small business or a large corporation, dealing with business disruptions can be challenging. Even with advance notice, multiple issues can arise that can cause lost revenue and productivity.

So how do you prepare for the unexpected? And continue operating with staff out of the office, travel restrictions, or disruptions in your IT network? A business continuity plan comes into play at this point.

To keep your business running during an unforeseen event, you need a tested, strategic plan to put into action that keeps your employees, customers, and stakeholders informed of what’s going on. The lack of a plan could reduce your organization’s likelihood of bouncing back, or worse, cause you to go out of business.

What is business continuity?

A Business continuity plan (BCP) refers to the continuation of critical business functions in the event of a disaster, whether caused by natural disasters, human-made errors, or cyber-security attacks. It outlines instructions and procedures an organization must follow in the face of unexpected events. It’s more comprehensive than a disaster recovery (DR) plan that primarily focuses on handling disruptions in IT infrastructures. A business continuity plan contains contingencies for everything from business processes, assets, to applications.

When developing your BCP, there are several things to consider. If a major disaster were to occur, do you have a strategy to get your human resources, sales, operations, and customer service teams back up-and-running to prevent revenue loss? For example, if your customer call center is damaged in a flood and those employees are displaced, will you be able to handle incoming service requests? Or, if a disaster destroys a significant data center, do you have a backup site location? A business continuity plan addresses these types of concerns.

Why is a business continuity plan important?

To be resilient and reduce downtime, it’s essential to have a business continuity plan in place to establish integration between business processes, applications, and IT infrastructure. According to the National Archives & Records Administration, Washington DC, 93% of companies that experience a disaster and lose data for 10 days or more file for bankruptcy within one year of it.

Not only does adaption and proper response to risks help companies withstand and thrive during unforeseen incidents, but it helps you stay competitive. Companies are now taking a holistic approach to develop business continuity management that does more than protect data and enable growth. They’re developing strategies that handle IT disaster recovery, emergency management, safeguard data and retain customers – all while minimizing operational costs.

And, with a rise in regulatory requirements for security and consumer expectations in today’s society, companies demonstrating the capability to handle adverse events can positively influence your reputation and boost your consumer confidence.

Framework of a business continuity plan

If your business doesn’t have a BCP in place, you can start by identifying vulnerabilities to ensure your organization is prepared to react and recover from disruption.

There are five steps to conduct a business continuity plan:

  1. Undergo a risk analysis to assess your entity’s risk exposure and potential threats that can adversely affect your organization’s resources. A risk analysis helps you identify the scenarios that are most detrimental and can cause business disruption. During this phase, you will also assess communication strategies and telecommunication recovery options.
  2. Perform a business impact analysis (BIA) to identify critical business functions that are time-sensitive and the necessary processes and resources that support them. A BIA assesses the potential losses of business functions, usually quantifiable by cost. Such analysis helps you identify and prioritize your entity’s processes to determine which ones will have the most significant impact if they go unfulfilled for a day, a few days, a week, or more.
  3. Identify recovery strategies to restore business processes to a minimum level following a business disruption. Your recovery strategies will prioritize the recovery time objectives (RTO) established during the BIA.
  4. Organize a development plan. Your development plan will consist of a business continuity team and map out how you will implement the plan during a disruption.
  5. Conduct training and maintenance for the business continuity plan. Train your BCP team and conduct test exercises to evaluate recovery strategies and the development plan. A controlled testing strategy provides an opportunity to identify gaps and make improvements to your plan.

How to create buy-in for your BCP

To have a successful business continuity plan, it must be embraced from the top down. Senior management must be represented during the establishment and updating of the plan and support it to create buy-in throughout your organization. Additionally, the plan is more likely to remain a priority if senior management engages in regular reviews and testing of it.

Management is also essential for promoting user awareness. If employees aren’t aware of the plan, how will they know how to respond during a major catastrophe when every minute counts? While the training and distribution of the program can be conducted by business managers and human resources staff, have senior management help promote the program and kick-off the training. Not only will executive support make a more significant impact on all of your team members, but it will create a sense of credibility and urgency for your strategy.

Have questions about getting started with your business continuity plan? Learn more about our data protection services.