Business Continuity Planning Is a Learning Experience
A business continuity plan sounds like some innocent document that sits in a file drawer next to the company insurance policy. Some would call it a disaster recovery plan. The key word in that name is "disaster." Flooding can easily wipe unprepared businesses off the face of the earth. Even prepared businesses face an uphill battle when disaster strikes. However, with a proper plan, they can survive.
Plan Preparation Requires a Total Commitment
In a large company, no employee understands every job. A shipping clerk won’t know how to administer a large contract. A senior executive won’t understand how to post a payment to Accounts Receivable. No one person or team can develop the plan alone. Everyone in every position will provide input. It’s often a long, difficult and costly process, and it includes the following steps:
1. Determine the likely impact of the disaster on your business. You cannot assume that business will return to the way it was. You will likely lose revenue, employees and customers. Assume the total destruction of everything on-site including inventory, paper documents, computers and electronic data.
2. Develop recovery strategies. If your area is susceptible to major floods, the loss of your facility and contents is a real possibility. Even storm damage could be catastrophic. Document what it would take to start from there and rebuild a running business. If post-disaster relocation is a possibility, that should be part of the continuity plan.
3. Implement test procedures and perform exercises. In your IT department, the process might involve storing electronic data in a secure facility far away from the Weymouth, MA, area. They might also have a contract with a company that specializes in disaster recovery services and processes data off-site. Other departments would have different tests and procedures.
4. Identify local restoration services. Your plan will undoubtedly include cleanup and restoration. Fortunately, there are local disaster recovery experts ready to be part of that plan.
The best defense against disaster is a good offense. By developing a thoughtful business continuity plan, you can increase your company's odds of survival, as well as help kickstart a quick recovery.