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Keys to a Successful Business Continuity Plan

publish date: June 7, 2016

Disasters usually don’t come with an advanced warning.  Even if they did, lacking a plan on how to continue your business could prove fatal.  In fact, 40% percent of businesses don’t reopen after a disaster and another 25% fail within one year of such an event.

A business continuity plan can serve as the difference between success and failure for your business.  Although there are many characteristics to these plans, three major keys stand out as factors any business should keep in mind when planning for the unplanned.

You can’t fight an enemy that you aren’t aware of.  Before you start discussing what to do in the event of a disaster, you must layout any and all scenarios that could leave you vulnerable.  This includes both natural and manmade situations that hinder your business from a slight inconvenience to major disruptions.

What are the most vital aspects of your business to keep running regardless of the circumstances?  What is the most likely disaster to befall your company?  Knowing these questions will put you in a better position when planning how each part of your business will continue on in the event of a disaster.

Now that you have laid out all the scenarios that could hinder your business, it’s time to plan how each compartment will respond in such situations. This part of continuity planning needs to be as detailed as possible and provide alternatives in case “plan a” doesn’t work.

For example, if you are a technology company and you lose access to your main business office, do you have backup options that can keep your business running?  Can you still communicate with customers remotely?  Does everyone on board know how they will continue their respected duties away from the office?  Are backups for data secure? These are all questions that need to be answered when you are developing your continuity plan.

So you know what threats you face and have laid out a plan to counter them and keep your business running.  Now it’s time to practice.  You need to make sure every individual knows what his or her role is when facing a disaster.  With this being said, go beyond mere knowledge.

To have a water-tight plan, you should consider staging “drills” in which you simulate a certain disaster and note how your business responds.  This could include, for example, not allowing your staff to enter the building.  Would everyone be able to function properly outside of the office?  If not, would the most essential aspects of your business be able to? Simulating disasters is a great way to test the resilience of your business continuity plan.

Unfortunately, disasters do happen and whether you are a large enterprise or a small business, you need to have a plan for when they do. It’s important to remember that this is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you need to plan for.  Tailor your plan to your specific business needs because your best solution may be different from others.  Do some research and contact a professional that can help because with a disaster, you can never be too prepared.

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