Eyes Wide Open: Developing a Business Continuity Plan

Business leaders often overlook how a business will operate when the availability of facilities or technology are interrupted. These interruptions can be in the form of disasters (natural or man-made), power outages or computer systems being down. Even a short-term interruption can have lasting impacts on costs, retention of talent and ultimately, the bottom line.

Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) are intended to help businesses recognize actual risks in order to evaluate how to overcome them. A BCP is meant to be specific to a business and therefore identify the risks particular to that business. There is no one size fits all, because a BCP should be unique to the organization and how it actually operates. This is accomplished by identifying the actual risks and the extent of impact that each actual risk could have. For example, a fire may cause one company to cease production, while another company can shift production to another facility with minimal impact. Failing to recognize how a business operates will result in improperly identifying risks. Worse, it will result in mitigation plans that are inadequate and unnecessarily waste time, money and resources.

Creating a BCP requires a strong understanding of the organization and an appreciation of the likely risks. Often a risk department will take the lead in the creation of a BCP, but regardless of who does, a BCP will require time and energy from across the organization. Organization-wide involvement also affords the opportunity to educate employees to perspectives of other departments and to proactively participate in decisions that impact the business.

At Faith Technologies, we recognize that each of our various departments has its own perspective on the nature and extent of the impact that a risk will have on it. In preparing our own BCP, we continue to refine our processes to enable the creation of a plan that suits our business and the needs of our clients.

There are numerous resources which can help you create a BCP. Peer companies or other business contacts may be willing to discuss the process they went through. Your insurance broker should have some insight and may be able to make clients available to discuss their experiences. Some business risks can be covered by insurance, and your insurance broker should be able to identify solutions within your existing insurance program, as well as options to supplement them. There are also consultants who specialize in creating tailor-made BCPs for businesses.

A well-prepared Business Continuity Plan can open your eyes to the realities of risks that exist for your business. Often it is the unknown that is far worse than the known. A BCP will demonstrate that there are options and solutions to every risk your business may be exposed to.