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Components of a Business Continuity Plan for Business Owners

For you to build a really robust business continuity plan, you need to have a comprehensive knowledge of the components of a business continuity plan.

Well,

You do not need to worry because that’s what this article is about.

Let’s face it.

For some business owners, crafting a business continuity plan is one of the most difficult tasks of business planning.

Good news is, it also offers some of the highest profits.

Unfortunately, many business executives and IT professionals seem to regard business continuity planning as a tedious task that consumes time.

Also, they think it may never yield any benefit throughout the lifespan of the business.

But when the real importance of this practice becomes obvious, it’s already too late to act.

In this article, I’m going to walk you through the components of a business continuity plan.

As a bonus, I’m also going to show you how to get your management to support your business continuity plan.

So if you’re as pumped up as I am to get started, then you’re going to want to suspend what you’re doing, grab a cup of coffee, and read this article right away because I’m going to be dishing out tons of relevant info.

Before we dive right into these components, let’s consider a quick overview of a business continuity plan.

A business continuity plan is a collection of instructions, documents, and processes which enable a company or business respond to emergencies, disasters, accidents, and threats without obstructing its major activities.

It is also called a business resumption plan.

Here are some of the reasons why you need a business continuity plan:

1) Every company, business, or organization is vulnerable to potential disasters such as flooding, power failure, accidents, etc.

So a  business continuity plan will help you predict, prevent and recover from these disasters.

2) A business continuity plan will help you identify the weaknesses and threats to your business.

It will also show you how to tackle these threats.

3) When you have a business continuity plan, it shows that your business is ready to protect the assets of your employees and customers.

4) In addition, a business plan can reduce downtime.

Indeed, your business may cease to operate when a disaster strikes.

But with a business plan in place, you wouldn’t need to spend time analyzing what to do.

All you need do is to execute the processes that you had already written down in your business continuity plan.

This will help you retain your customers by preventing them from trying out other products and services made by other companies.

It may surprise you to know that for over a period of 5 years, businesses have lost over $70 million as a result of downtime alone.

That’s scary, right?

I’m sure you don’t want your business to be one of those businesses.

Furthermore, a business continuity plan can help your company remain competitive, increase your income and minimize the loss of customers

The importance of a business continuity plan cannot be overstated.

It is a vital document if you want your business to survive any natural disaster or an unplanned event.

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What Are the Components of a Business Continuity Plan?

Now, let’s jump right into the components of a business continuity plan for business owners.

1) Recovery procedures

This is the section of your business continuity plan where you outline the strategies you have designed to keep the business functional.

Your strategy should also identify and prioritize those assets that are important to your business.

This may include your manufacturing equipment, your Warehouse, your IT(information technology) system, and your contact list.

Identify possible risks and threats to those assets.

Also, work out a system that will help you recover from any unplanned event or natural disaster.

The business contingency planning team should synchronize all communications about the recovery status so that those performing the recovery will not be interrupted regularly for status.

The department heads of the company should purchase all equipment and supplies that are essential to the recovery plan.

In addition to that, make sure the environment where the business continuity plan will be tested is suitable.

This will help you obtain correct results.

2) Recovery teams

In this section of the plan, outline the names of those who will participate in the recovery process.

You should also assemble the participants into groups and assign a leader to each group.

The team leader will coordinate all the activities of the recovery team.

Now, let’s look at some of the recovery teams that you should have in your plan and their functions.

a. Emergency response team

In the event of any natural disaster, this team will ensure that all the employees are safe.

In addition, this team will examine the physical structures on your business site to detect areas that may have been damaged.

The emergency response team will also provide damage assessment reports and recommendations to the management for proper decision making.

b. Information technology recovery team

Indeed, you can guess the function of this team just from the name.

Some of the functions of the IT recovery team includes:

  1. Activation of the IT recovery plan.
  2. Supervision of the IT disaster recovery procedures and response.
  3. Management and organization of IT resources
  4. Testing equipment and facilities.
  5.  Acquisition and installation of equipment at the recovery site.
  6. Repair and replacement of damaged IT equipment.

In summary, this team coordinates all activities that are related to data communication.

c. The human resource team

This team provides information about the disaster and recovery efforts to the employees and their families.

d. Media team

The media team supplies information about the disaster and the recovery efforts to other stakeholders, regulatory agencies, and the media.

e. Administrative team

The administrative team helps business recovery personnel carry out clerical tasks such as data entry, drafting letters, sending emails, etc.

It is also the responsibility of the administrative team to keep an account of all the expenditures made in the recovery process.

3) Data backup

Reports from leaders in the tech industry such as Microsoft and Cisco have shown that the rate at which cyber-attacks harm businesses of all sizes is on the rise.

Now, take a look at this fact for a moment:

Among the businesses that fall prey to cyber attacks, approximately 23 percent of them lose business opportunities due to data loss.

This statistic calls for you to include a proper backup strategy in your business continuity plan, especially backup for data on the computer system.

Now, when it comes to crafting a data backup strategy for your business continuity plan, there are two ways to go about it:

on-site backup and off-site backup.

Let me explain the two in simple terms:

Onsite backup stores your data within the business environment.

off-site backup stores your data far away from the business environment.

Also, it is easier to access onsite backups than off-site backups.

You can use tape drives and external hard drives for onsite backup.

If you have your data stored on a backup device, It is the best practice to take this device away from your business environment.

Indeed, this will prevent natural disasters like flood, fire, or any unplanned event from destroying it.

In choosing an off-site backup location, make sure it is a place that you will be able to use for at least six weeks after you declare the disaster.

Business and company documents that you should include in your backup plan are:

  1. Financial documents like bank records, tax returns, etc.
  2. A  list of fixed assets
  3. Legal documents such as copies of agreements & contracts, memorandum of understanding, online privacy policy etc.
  4. Pictures of various work area and facilities.

4) Vendor readiness strategy

Does your business or company depend on vendors for the supply of equipment, goods, and services?

If your answer is yes, then you need a solid vendor readiness plan for your business.

This is an important component of a business continuity plan.

In fact, It helps to reduce the risk of business disruption caused by vendors.

Your business shouldn’t depend on a single source for the supply of equipment, goods, materials, and services.

It should have a minimum of two vendors that can supply the essential goods and services that are required for running your business.

To know if these vendors are the best fit for your business, demand that they complete a survey and submit it within one month for your examination.

After the survey,  examine their responses and then work with the ones that meet your requirements in terms of the supply of equipment, goods, and services to your business.

In summary, make a list of your vendors and back up vendors.

5) Off-site temporary facility

In your business continuity plan, it is also important to spell out where your business personnel and contingency team will convene after they have been notified of a disaster.

The business contingency planning team oversees the access to this facility.

Here are some of the things that you should include in this facility:

  1. Mobile phones
  2. Internet connection and devices
  3. A source of power supply (a generator)
  4. Emergency provisions like food and water, a set of basic tools and a working area.

You should be able to access this off-site temporary facility within 24 hours.

Of course, you wouldn’t want a facility that takes weeks or months to access.

Also, it should be a place where you and your business team can occupy temporarily for at least a year.

6) Property protection strategy

For you to be able to restore your business’s operations and prevent further damage after an incident has occurred, it’s also important that you have a plan to protect your business properties.

Train employees how to prevent fires in the workplace, how to stop fires and how to exit the facility.

post maps of exit routes at important places in the business facility.

Furthermore, Install fire extinguishers and smoke detectors in every section of the business facility.

Handle and dispose of all hazardous materials properly.

Also, set up procedures to notify employees of an incident.

7) Relocation strategy

An important component of a business continuity plan is your relocation strategy.

This is because, in the event of any disaster, there Maybe the need for you to continue your business operations on another site.

With this strategy already in place, you’ll be able to relocate faster without any anxiety.

Note that it’s the best practice to set up both a short-term and a long-term strategy.

You’ll need a short-term strategy when the disaster will only disrupt your business for two weeks.

You’re going to need a long-term strategy when the disaster will disrupt your business for more than two weeks.

In your long-term strategy, also make plans to get a new building if there was any major building damage.

8) Sitemap documentation

This is the part of your business  continuity plan where you’ll document all the  descriptions of your building and Sitemaps

Information to be contained in this part includes:

  1. Entrance
  2. Exit
  3. Alarms
  4. Restrained areas
  5. Water lines
  6. Water valves
  7. Marked out escape route
  8. The location of the business building
  9. Smoke detectors
  10. Hazardous  materials such as chemicals and cleaning agents
  11. Stairways
  12. Gas lines
  13. Gas valves etc.

9) Plan activation

Outline how you plan to activate your business continuity plan.

In the event of any disaster, it’s the responsibility of the business contingency planning team to contact the management team and also evaluate the emergency situation.

While accessing the damage, the business contingency planning team will provide the names of the people and things that were affected by the incident.

Also, it is the responsibility of this team to evaluate the incident that has occurred and then send information to the relevant department heads that will make a decision about the event.

If the department heads decide to activate the business continuity plan, then a member of the business contingency team will send a notification to the executive team for approval.

10) Employee training strategy

Employee training is very vital for a business resilience.

First all, this is the part of your continuity plan where you outline how you are going to train your employees to be able to contain any unplanned incident.

Secondly, you should train your employees to:

1) know their individual roles in the business continuity plan

2) know how to handle hazardous materials

3) Know how to respond to respond to emergencies in the business.

Your employees should meet with their various department heads to evaluate the disaster preparation and the emergency action plan procedures.

In addition, you should conduct annual mock disaster drills to practically prepare and teach your employees how to contain an unplanned incident.

Indeed, these drills will also help you identify any loopholes in your business continuity plan.

They include:

Walk through drills: This is where the various teams in your business will try out their emergency response actions.

Functional drills: These drills will simulate critical functions in your continuity plan to spot out their strengths and weaknesses.

Some of these functions include emergency notification, warning and communication procedures and medical response

Evacuation drill: you should include everyone in your business building in an evacuation practice drill at least once in a year.

This drill will eventually test your evacuation procedure and also get all personnel acquainted with the exit routes, evacuation signs, assembly area and relevant procedures.

11) Notification scripts

Make sure that you have notification script included in your continuity plan.

Indeed, the essence of this strategy is to help you notify your employees of a disaster without disclosing information of the disaster to someone who is not a member is your business team.

Now, this strategy is very effective if the employee wasn’t at the site of the disaster.

Also, you should write this script to minimize panic.

If the employee is at home, describe the incident briefly to the employee stating the extent of the damage and how many personnel were affected by the incident.

This script should also tell the employee the next step after the incident.

Bonus?

How to Get Management to Support Business Continuity Plan:

Truth be told.

For any business to have a robust business continuity and disaster recovery plan, that business also needs to have the absolute support of the management.

But more often than not, management doesn’t give a crap about a business continuity or disaster recovery plan.

Unfortunately, what management cares about is profit, business strategy, client satisfaction, market share etc.

However, gaining absolute management support doesn’t have to be a hassle.

Here are some tips to help you gain absolute management support:

Firstly, establish your credibility and show that you understand the importance of a business continuity plan.

Secondly, get involved in management activities.

Prove that you understand how the business is run, its strengths and weaknesses, and the potential threats to the business.

Finally, educate the management on the potential risks to the business and the remedies.

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