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Does Your Indiana Business Have a Business Continuity Plan?

11/23/2018 (Permalink)

Does Your Indiana Business Have a Business Continuity Plan?

In a previous blog, we discussed steps a business can take to prepare should a natural disaster impact their Indiana business. We discussed the importance of protecting your data, planning to work off-site, and/or working with loss of power. Many of those steps should be part of a business continuity plan.

A business continuity plan is an extensive document that a business develops to ensure the business can stay operational in the event of a natural disaster occurring. In this article, we will delve deeper into what a business continuity plan is and the steps to take to create a thorough and effective one for your business.

The Process of Developing a Business Continuity Plan

In order to create a business continuity plan, a business must take several steps in identifying the impact of a natural disaster to your business,  document strategies to recover critical business processes, develop plans and teams to implement for the continuation, and conduct training to ensure the strategies and plans are complete.

STEP 1: Business Impact Analysis

The first step in developing a business continuity plan is to conduct a business impact analysis (BIA). A BIA identifies potential loss scenarios that may occur to your business. A natural disaster could impact your business in one scenario but it could also impact one of your business partners in another scenario. Business operations could be affected by delays from a supplier or from delays in a shipper, or both. It’s important during the BIA to identify and consider every scenario that could impact your business.

During the BIA, every department lead should participate in order to identify every impact your business may have due to a natural disaster occurring. Impacts can be financial and/or operational. Once all department leads have provided their reports on potential impacts to their areas of the business and steps to take to recover and restore operations, the next step is to prioritize the steps. The BIA should identify the business departments and processes that could suffer the greatest operational and financial impacts to the business and prioritize them for the business continuity plan.

STEP 2: Continuity Strategies

Now that your business has identified the operational and financial impacts from the BIA, the next step to take is to identify and document recovery requirements and develop strategies to implement in the business continuity plan. By identifying and documenting the steps needed to take, you can then determine if you have the appropriate resources to implement the steps. You may find you do not have the personnel or the capabilities to carry out certain continuity strategies.

It is during this step, that you can explore options to carry out all the strategies. You may also find that you have choices to make in strategies for particular impacts. By working with all department leaders, the strategies that work best for the whole company can be chosen and implemented. Now that you have the strategies to help your business quickly recover from a natural disaster, you can move to the next step of developing the business continuity plan that includes the team, strategy plans, and procedures to take.

STEP 3: Continuity Plan Development

So, you’ve identified the impacts a natural disaster can have on your business and you’ve developed the strategies to take to recover from these impacts, now you need to put it into a plan. The business continuity plan is the documentation that you can provide to every person in your business that shows in detail every step and process to take to manage a business disruption.

The plan should begin with the business continuity teams and leaders. Teams can be key departments or more general business stages like production, shipping, IT, and support. Each team will have a designated leader that will be in charge of implementing and managing the continuity plan. The plan can include checklists that team leaders can easily follow. The checklists can include recovery strategies, locations of supplies and equipment, contact info of team members, emergency personnel and disaster recovery contacts, and manual workarounds for each strategy.

The business continuity plan should be extensive but easy to follow for every leader and team member involved. It also needs to ensure that every team is communicating and working together to ensure the recovery is smooth.

STEP 4: Continuity Plan Training

Once the business continuity plan has been developed and approved, you can’t just file it away and hope you never have to use it. It is important to educate and train every team leader and team member on the plan. Not only should the plan be discussed on a regular basis, but it also must be tested and evaluated.

It is during this critical time of conducting testing of the plan, that many businesses find gaps in the plan that need to be addressed. As you can suspect, it’s better to find these problems and correct them during plan exercises than during an actual disaster where lives and property are at risk. If gaps or problems are identified, you will want to update your business continuity plan as soon as possible to correct them.

When testing your business continuity plan, you want to test scenarios with varying degrees of difficulty and impacts to your business. You also want to reevaluate your plan on an annual basis or when large changes have occurred at your business. These changes could be staff turnover or business growth and expansion. In either case, your business continuity plan may have gaps in it.

An Important Part of Your Business Continuity Plan

If your business should suffer from a natural disaster or an event that impacts the operation of it, it’s important to have a commercial restoration company, like SERVPRO of Indianapolis West, as part of your business continuity plan. Whether your business has been damaged by storms, floods, and/or fire, SERVPRO if Indianapolis West can help your business get back to work by repairing any damage your business property may have.

They have the tools and the expertise to handle almost every type of damage your business may sustain. Put them in your business continuity plan and give them a call if your business should ever suffer damage from a natural disaster or unforeseen event.

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