For this week's posts on Social Media, I have been focusing on Business Continuity, yet again. There are several reasons for this, the main being that Tuesday here in California was The Great California Shake Out-an observance developed by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to remind California residents of the importance of earthquake preparedness.
As for my additional reasoning... here at Alcala, the #1 request from clients is information on Disaster Preparedness or Business Continuity...evidence that it is on the minds of business owners and CEOs. As well it should be. Another news highlight here in Southern California this week has been the confirmation from the National Weather Service that the predicted "El Nino" for the coming winter is "too big to ignore". That has prompted the City of Los Angeles to start disaster preparedness activities to help insure public safety during the storm activity. There will most assuredly be floods, mudslides, roof damages...just to name a few "disastrous" possibilities. The City of Los Angeles is doing the right thing to put plans in place now in the event of catastrophic occurrences.
Hence the reasons for yet another blog on this subject. If the State of California and the City of Los Angeles think that Disaster Preparedness makes sense, business owners and/or CEOs must understand and be aware that their companies' viability depends on a Business Continuity Plan.
So...what's involved in creating a plan? Is it as complicated as it sounds like it might be? After all, if it's complicated or expensive...those are two good reasons for procrastination. But procrastinating will lead to regret. So here are four easy steps to creating a BCP (Business Continuity Plan).
- Identify threats or risks
Understanding the risks that could leave employees, customers, vendors, property and operations vulnerable is fundamental. Threats can include, but are not limited to natural disasters, malicious attacks, power outages and system failures.
Identify the risks most likely to occur based on historical, geographical, organizational and other factors. Then weigh the probability of each event against its potential impact to your business, as well as your readiness to respond.
- Conduct a business impact analysis
Identify the people, places, providers, processes and programs critical to the survival of your business. What functions and resources, if interrupted or lost, could impact your ability to provide goods and services or meet regulatory requirements?
Consider who and what is absolutely necessary to restore critical operations. Then prioritize the need to restore each item after the event. Plan to use limited resources wisely. Complementary functions can always be restored later.
- Adopt controls for prevention and mitigation
Prevention and mitigation planning and activities are intended to help prevent an event (such as a fire or explosion from unsafe conditions) as well as to reduce the impact or severity of an event (such as relocating critical equipment to a higher elevation in flood-susceptible areas).
Your prevention and mitigation plans should address, among other things, emergency response, public relations, resource management, and employee communications.
- Test, exercise and improve your plan routinely
A business continuity plan is an evolving strategy that should adapt to your company’s ever-changing needs. Test and update it regularly – yearly at a minimum – or any time critical functions, facilities, suppliers or personnel change. Train employees to understand their role in executing the plan, too.
Exercises can include discussions or hypothetical walk-throughs of scenarios to live drills or simulations. The key is to ensure the plan works as intended.