A business continuity plan should be created.

BCPs give procedures for how employers and employees will stay in touch in the event of a disaster or emergency, such as a fire at the office.Many companies never take the time to develop a plan because they don’t feel it’s necessary.It is possible to enhance your company’s ability to continue business as usual during or after significant disruptions to business operations by creating a comprehensive BCP.

Step 1: Accept the risks of your company.

The possibility of a disruption shutting down your business operations is scary, but you should always be prepared and willing to accept that risks and threats can cause turmoil.It is possible to make a plan that ensures that both your business’s assets and personnel are sufficiently protected once you accept that risks and threats can have devastating results on business operations.Make a list of the risks that could affect your company.For example, the death of a key person will not typically result in closing the doors for a while, but can severely impact results, vendor relations and customer service.To prioritize your planning, sort risks by impact and livelihood.

Step 2: Disaster recovery plans should not be confused with business continuity plans.

Disaster Recovery Plans and Business Continuity Plans have a lot in common.Disaster recovery plans should be geared towards business recovery after a disaster.Business Continuity Plans focus on preventing the negative consequences of a disaster from occurring at all.

Step 3: Consider the risks facing the company.

Business impact analysis plans consider the potential consequences to your business when the ability to function and process has been disrupted by a threat or risk.It is possible to determine which issues, risks and threats your business continuity plan needs to address with the creation of a BIA.The possible effects of a disruption to business operations include: lost income and sales Increased expenses Customer defection/dissatisfaction Tardiness in service delivery Regulatory fines Delay/inability to commence future business plans

Step 4: There is a list of internal personnel.

In order to successfully execute a BCP, you will need to quickly mobilize key personnel.Your business cannot function if you don’t have a list of internal key personnel and backups.As small as possible, make the list as large as necessary.In an emergency situation where normal communications might be unavailable, make a list of all internal personnel with their contact information and any other ways of contacting them.Do you know which job functions are necessary to keep operations going?When the primary job-holder is on vacation, you should think about who fills those positions.High-ranking executives are not included in key personnel.A low to mid-level accounts receivable clerk might be responsible for processing reports that affect the amount of available operating income.The accounts receivable clerk is considered a key personnel because of their role in facilitating the company’s access to capital provided by the processing of receivables and the collection of funds.

Step 5: Critical business equipment should be documented.

The most critical information that you and your employees must be able to access is contained in on-site business computers.Make a list of critical equipment and create a strategy for secure access in the event of a disruption.Passwords, identification data and the location of key files should be included in this list.Some businesses can’t function without a fax machine.Do you use your copy machine a lot?Do you have special printers?

Step 6: Critical documents should be identified.

In the event of a fire or other disaster that destroys critical documents, you should put together all the documentation you need to restart your business.Make sure that you have alternative copies in physical storage offsite, as well as ways to access critical documents such as articles of incorporation and other legal papers, utility bills, banking information, and critical HR documents.If there was a total facility loss, you should consider what the plan of action would be.Do you know when to pay the loan on your company vehicles?How do you pay for your email services?

Step 7: Do you know who can telecommute?

telecommuting from home is a great way for employees to continue doing work as usual in the event that business operations cannot continue at the regular location.Some of the delays in performing work as usual can be avoided if your employees are able to work even when away from the office.Some people in your company are capable of working from home.Make sure to find out who can and can’t work from home because of internet issues, and give your employees the necessary resources for telecommuting.

Step 8: Contingency equipment options can be identified.

If normal business operations are disrupted, contingency equipment options can be used.If a disaster damaged or destroyed vehicles used in the ordinary course of business, where would you rent them?What location would you rent computers from?Is it possible to use a business service outlet for critical functions?Unless they are unique and an arrangement has already been negotiated, alternative equipment suppliers don’t have to be identified.A substitute must be able to supply services, equipment, and resources.The personnel in charge of managing the relationship with the substitute must have the authority to make decisions.

Step 9: Do you know your contingency location?

While your primary offices are unavailable, this is where you will conduct business.Many of the hotels have well-equipped business facilities that you can use.It could be a contractors office or an attorney’s office.It is possible to store products in a pinch by moving them to a storage facility near your regular site.telecommuting for everyone is a viable option.You should include a map to the location in your BCP if you have an identified temporary location.Wherever it is, make sure you have the correct contact information.

Step 10: You can make a “How-to” section in your BCP.

Step-by-step instructions on how to execute the BCP should be included.Write down the name of the person assigned to each responsibility.List the responsibilities for each person.If you want to know who is supposed to call the insurance company, you can look up “Insurance”, and if you’re interested in knowing what Joe is doing, look under “Joe”.

Step 11: There are external contacts.

A description of the company and any other absolutely critical information about them are included in a special contact list for critical vendors.Attorneys, bankers, IT consultants, anyone that you might need to call to assist with various operational issues should be included in your list.Utility companies, municipal and community offices, police, fire, water, hospitals, and the post office are included.

Step 12: The information needs to be put together.

A BCP is useless if the information is scattered around.A 3-ring binder is the best way to keep a BCP together.Make a lot of copies and give them to your key personnel.Extra copies can be kept in a safety-deposit box or at an off-site location.

Step 13: The BCP needs to be communicated to relevant employees.

Make sure all employees are aware of the BCP.Ensure that employees are aware of their roles in the implementation and execution of the policy.

Step 14: Provide essential BCP plan information to non-key personnel.

Don’t leave things to chance.Even if key personnel are informed about their role under the BCP, you should still make sure that all employees are aware of contingency locations.The absence of key personnel won’t prevent non-key personnel from knowing how to respond to disruptions.

Step 15: You should plan on modifying and updating your BCP.

It is likely that there will be disruptive events that are not provided for in your plan regardless of how good your BCP is.In light of additional information and changed circumstances, be open to updating and/or modifying your BCP.Don’t let your BCP get out of date when something changes.