The Business Continuity Plan is highly important for any business.
Basically, it is the plan that helps direct the steps that should be taken in cases of business disruption, which can be manmade (i.e. a riot) or natural (i.e. an earthquake).
Even in the cases of manmade or natural, it could be events that cause a disruption, but in a good way. For example, the CEO having a baby may be a disruptive even to the business, even though it is a very joyful event. Did you know that when that is the case (the example of a baby being born) that whatever plan takes place to cover the CEO who is away from the office having a baby, is the business continuity plan (BCP)? So, possibly the VP of the company takes over in that case. That means that the company had a BCP that covered the birth of the CEO’s baby. Yes, it is that simple (and that complicated).
How Complicated is the BCP?
It is great if the BCP is comprehensive, but it is expected to evolve with your business. At the very least, you should review your BCP annually, to ensure that it meets all of your business needs and that you are in a place where you can still carry it out, should that be needed.
Once a year, meet together with your board of directors (or consultants) and go through your BCP in a meeting. Identify any areas where there need to be changes made. If possible, you should test your BCP, in a “mock disaster,” but it can also be walked through virtually.
In a nutshell, you want a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) that describes the steps that need to be taken to return your business to a functioning level. So, you need to make a list of those items that epitomize the functioning of the business.
Deborah’s BCP “Cherry Pie” Example
Let’s say that you run a bakery that is known for their cherry pies.
You are not limited to cherry pies, but that is what people think of when your brand is mentioned. If that is the case, cherry pies (and the continual process of producing them) is very important!
Question 1: What product or service is my company known for the most?
If you are known for one item, like cherry pies, it is likely that more damage is done to your business if that item is unavailable for a week or so than if a few other pastries are temporarily unavailable. Also, if that item becomes unavailable, it opens up an opportunity for the competition to take your place.
Question 2: What product or service could be taken over by my competitor if I didn’t offer it for a week?
Now, go through all of your products and/or services (online and offline) and figure out which ones are essential and which ones can be temporarily be removed from the list. You may want to create a third category of the “maybes.” Those are the products or services which should be included in the “absolutely” list (like the cherry pie) but could be sacrificed if required.
Question 3: What is needed in order to produce the “absolutely” items or services? What is needed in order to continue to produce those cherry pies during a business disruption?
In the case of the cherry pies, you may need the baker (or someone able to follow a recipe accurately) and an oven, to name the least. Granted, I don’t want to discredit the amount of expertise in making the perfect cherry pie, so more than likely there is much more to this list than meets the eye. The idea here is to list whatever is essential and try to remove as much as possible from your list without sacrificing your business.
Question 4: What steps, using the items I listed in Question 3, are needed in order to product or service the “Cherry Pie” list?
Write out the step-by-step process of accomplishing the goal of delivering those products and services (even including whom to call, what to say, etc.).
Completion of Deborah’s BCP Exercise
There, you did it! It was that easy!
Ideally, you have done this using a Word document, or something similar. Save it with a date code to the name of the file (don’t rely on the date of the file itself). Then, update your responses, as they change (or as things come to mind). You likely have two files. One is the exercise we went through in this post and the other is your BCP, which is actually the answer to question four 🙂