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Building A Business Continuity Plan

written by: •edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 2/4/2011

Building and implementing a business continuity plan in case of an unexpected disaster is vital to surviving of a company. You should know the importance and benefit or having a plan and losses you could incur without having one.

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    Creating A Plan

    What might happen to the business in the event of a calamity? “Expect the unexpected” is key to understanding the principles of business perseverance plan. Many business owners do not consider developing such a plan, probably because they believe it is not necessary or they find it unaffordable. They fail to understand no matter what sort of business they are running, having such a plan is essential. Here are some guidelines that can help you create an n effective plan:

    The first and important think you should accept is that disasters happen, earthquake happens, tornadoes and floods come. The chances that you may have to face them one day are not nil. To say you will deal with the disaster on-the-fly is a guaranteed way to fail. Small businesses don’t have offices at many sites and have all the assets in one or a few more places. On the other hand, big businesses might have call centers, office branches, warehouses, etc in different regions, so they have to be considering many more things when creating a plan.

    The one must urge for the development of a business continuity plan can be no other than the business owner or the senior management. It must be kept in mind that it is not only an IT matter but a disaster can affect any business line. That makes it important that all business groups provide an input required in making of the plan. Whether someone works in an IT department or finance or any other, whether he is a top executive or junior office worker, all are expected to contribute. It is often seen that business continuity plans never materialize, it is either because not everyone takes steps seriously and dedicate themselves to the task or lack of funding or manpower becomes the cause.

    Conducting a risk analysis is the next step in the process. Here, we look at every business area and note the potential risks to it. We look at things like money you could lose or how customers you could lose, etc. It must also be kept in mind that you need to protect important paper and electronic information, for example contracts, bills, etc. This can be achieved by keeping paper documents in a fire-resistant cabinet, copy them and store them off-site or scanned copies can be stored in an online storage.

    For a small business, the effective business continuity plan is nothing more than an up-to-date and appropriate operational manual. It describes how to run a business, plan backups, run the electronic and telecommunication equipment as well as list of your employees, contractors, and vendors contact detail. This manual is to be kept in an easily-reachable but safe place where employees can access and update it from any location, for example, a website.

    In the event of disaster, it is essential the open communication is maintained. All the employees should be contacted during the time of a disaster, to inform them what is happening and how it may affect their jobs and to provide them directions. You should keep all data and information safe, back up to an offsite or online location. Place Backups at more than one location and not just on employees’ computer or a server.

    Keep in mind, your staff is your most important asset, so make sure you keep them advised of the situation and what they should be exercising.

    I also recommend a three-series reading on Business Continuity Planning for a detailed guidance.