Some incidents, regardless of size, can escalate rapidly, impact employees, disrupt typical operations, and affect your company’s financial stability. To prevent and reverse impacts from spreading to multiple departments and critical business processes, companies should prepare a thorough Business Continuity Plan (BCP). However, the path to sustainability and recovery is often complicated by ambiguous information, overlooked linked business processes, and static plan formats. Business continuity planning does not have to be a complicated process. When companies utilize systematic methods to identify objectives and implement potential response in conjunction with intuitive formats, the process of recovery, continuity, and sustainability can be streamlined.
Business Continuity Plan Objectives
At a minimum, a BCP should provide the following:
- Key operations and critical activities
- Critical processes and strategies for recovery
- Resources necessary to assess, declare, and recover from disruption
- Evacuation and relocation information and policies
- Key response personnel
However, identifying the potential implications of a sudden loss can be a daunting process. Determining business function inter-dependencies required to maintain operations is a significant step in effective response planning. Managers should not exaggerate the importance of departmental business functions, critical priorities, or recovery expectations. This can lead to further failures and prolonged recovery. A workflow analysis may assist managers in prioritizing each function and the necessary process to be recovered. At a minimum, managers should examine the following applicability and their critical function within their business unit:
- Information Technology
- Environmental, Health, and Safety
- Supply and Trading
- Accounts Payable and Benefits
- Finance and Payroll
Key Business Continuity Information
Once each department’s key functions and critical processes are identified, mitigated and tested, details can be implemented into the plan. Continuity processes should be aligned with company protocols, site-specific personnel details, and specialized training and exercise programs. At a minimum, the BCP should include
- Notifications and activation details
- Team roles and responsibilities
- Detailed Response Strategies
- Employee policies
- Damage assessment processes
- Critical Process Recovery Information
- Termination and Demobilization
- Training and Exercises
Web-Based Business Continuity Formats
Effective BCPs should contain detailed and site-specific information for each operational facility. Because of the dynamic nature of operations and incidents, managing and communicating evolving counteractive process can be complicated by a static BCP format. Dynamic BCP formats and modern communication techniques can streamline evolutionary business process countermeasures. By transitioning from paper-based BCPs to a web-based approach, companies have the ability to integrate data into a standardized, enterprise-wide business continuity template with site-specific details for each particular site. Web-based BCP formats simplify business continuity planning by enabling:
- Efficiency: Maintaining up-to-date and actionable BCPs can be administratively time consuming. The most advanced web-based software programs utilize a database, allowing for specific repetitive information to be duplicated in the various necessary plan types across an entire enterprise. By minimizing administratively tasking duties, accuracy of the plans are optimized.
- Accessibility of plans: In the event of a business disruption, web-based plans are typically available from all company locations. However, web-based BCP software should offer every option of instant accessibility: via the Internet, downloaded, or printed to ensure accessibility in a variety of forms. Increasing accessibility options can bolster the entire business continuity program.
- Instantaneous Updates: Multiple versions of paper-based and intranet-based plans can potentially confuse and misinform the response team(s), prolonging a response and the business disruption. Web based software eliminates “version confusion” and allows the business continuity team to apply the most up-to-date and tested processes.
- Superior functionality: Simplifying documentation during an incident enables prompt response progress and faster return to “business as usual”. Web-based plans can provide hyperlinks, forms libraries, and simplified interfaces to improve streamlined functionality for plan users.
- Multi-purpose data: BCPs often share common data. Web-based, database driven plans utilize one database to manage this information, effectively leveraging plan content and revision efforts to all plans and locations that utilize that data.