Although our world is full of interesting possibilities, many of them are not very good. Businesses face all kinds of risks from start to finish, and the failure to manage these risks is one of the surest ways to lose your business. Although we can never hope to remove all the risks, we can plan for them. That way, we are much better prepared when a disaster strikes.
That brings us to the business continuity plan. Most good companies have contingency plans in place to deal with potential disasters. At PCH Technologies, we have to deal with these issues all the time. Let’s talk a little more about these business continuity plans and what they typically include.
There are many disasters that can befall your business, but here is a shortlist of common risks that might be present:
- Data loss
- Hacking/other cyber-attacks
- Death of the CEO or other senior members
- Economic collapse
- Theft or burglary
- Natural disaster
- Legal issues/lawsuits
- Loss of customer confidence
Volumes could be written about any of these problems, but we don’t have time for all that. Instead, let’s focus on the elements that should be present in a good business continuity plan.
Evaluating Those Risks:
A vague plan is not good enough when things hit the fan. In order to deal with a business disaster in a competent way, you need a formal and well-organized plan. This should be written down and agreed upon by all the most important members of your business so that any issues can be addressed before the system is implemented.
The first thing to do is to evaluate your risks. Obviously, the needs of every business are different, so the risks will also vary. For instance, companies that sell electronics will have to worry about moisture damage more than others. A humid warehouse could easily cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars when it’s full of high-end electronic devices.
As you go through this risk-evaluation phase, you should think about how likely you are to encounter certain problems and plan accordingly. For instance, a company that deals in relatively inexpensive goods will have less risk of theft. Most people won’t risk going to jail unless the goods in question are worth a lot of money.
So, if your company makes chess pieces (for instance), you won’t have to worry that much about the theft of your merchandise. Nobody wants chess pieces badly enough to take extreme risks, although the money you make from selling them could present a more appealing target.
Once you have identified the most likely potential disasters for your business, you can make a plan for dealing with those disasters. By now, you and your colleagues should already have a list of your most pressing risks, so that is where you should begin making response plans. Once that is done, you can make plans for less likely disasters as well.
For each potential disaster, you should consider the impact that they will have. Discuss how it will affect the day-to-day workings of your business, and how these problems can be mitigated. For instance, let’s say you are running a company that sells frozen food. If your freezers go out, you could lose your entire stock. Therefore, your disaster mitigation plan should include backup generators or other means of auxiliary power.
The above is an example of how the planning works. You start by thinking about the disaster itself, then think about the results that are likely to come from the disaster. Then, it becomes easier to make plans because you are no longer dealing with vague predictions.
Communication And Activation
The tricky thing about a disaster plan is that it has to be implemented quickly. There might be little to no warning before the crisis hits, so your business continuity plan should provide for a quick and unified response.
The only way to get a quick and unified response is through good communication. All essential members of management should be able to reach one another through non-standard channels. Satellite phones are a good way to go because they are the least likely to malfunction.
There must be clear and prearranged signals so that all the relevant people can see when the plan has been activated. Activation of the disaster plan should not be done arbitrarily, however. Instead, the continuity plan should spell out the exact circumstances under which the plan will be activated.
When making a response plan, it is essential that everyone understands their role. If you don’t designate certain responsibilities to certain people, the whole company will be like a chicken without a head, running around in circles, and accomplishing nothing. Therefore, you should create special disaster response teams so that each team member can go where their talents will be most useful and act without waiting for any orders.
Educating The Response Teams
Once the disaster recovery plan is complete, you might be tempted to sit back and relax, thinking that everything is handled. However, things are not usually that simple. Your disaster response teams may or may not have the knowledge and training to respond appropriately to a crisis, and that is a problem that must be remedied.
If possible, you can have the most experienced member of the team educating and training the other members. If this is not possible, you might need to hire an instructor from outside the company. Either way, you need to make sure that everyone knows how to do their job with maximum efficiency.
You should now understand the basic concept of a business continuity plan. Obviously, we cannot help you with most of the details. However, we hope that we have given you a good framework with which to craft the perfect plan for your company. By taking care of your preparations now, you can greatly increase your ability to respond to any crisis in the future.
PCH Technologies can help with those preparations by offering the expertise and professionalism that you have a right to expect. If you have enjoyed this article and would like to learn more, please fill out the contact form below.