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The primary goal of business continuity planning is to put a plan in place that allows the critical functions to continue operating after an event that disrupts the normal operations.
This can be a natural disaster or a human-caused disruption such as a cyber attack. But it can also be any other event that has the potential to interrupt your ability to do business.
Why Business Continuity Planning Makes Sense
Even if you don’t think you’re vulnerable to these types of events, it’s worth doing some preparation and planning. In this blog post, we’ll explore what some of those actions might be.
Business continuity planning is about more than just having a disaster recovery plan.
Types of Plans
First, let’s place business continuity planning in the context of the larger disaster recovery and crisis communications concepts. Business Continuity Planning (BCP) describes an approach to ensuring that critical systems will continue to operate after a disruptive event. Disaster Recovery deals with recovering from those disruptive events. Finally, crisis communications (or public relations) are the efforts undertaken by an organization to mitigate any negative impact on reputation, market share, or operations that may result from a disruption.
While all three of these concepts are often addressed in tandem, each deserves just as much attention as the others. A business continuity plan without effective crisis communications or a disaster recovery plan without a business continuity approach will be incomplete.
Business continuity planning is all about risk management. Businesses, like people, can never eliminate all risks or guarantee against any of them. However, businesses are generally better able to mitigate the risks they face than individuals simply because they have more resources and access to information with which to do so.
Business continuity planning is about putting mechanisms in place that will minimize the damage caused by disruptive events.
The goal, then, is to reduce an organization’s exposure to risk and help the business continue operating as near normal as possible after disruptive events occur. This may seem counter-intuitive (as it does for many people) but having a business continuity plan in place can actually reduce your exposure to risk. By taking some simple steps to prepare for a disruptive event, you may be able to avoid the disruption or at least minimize its impact.
Uncover Weaknesses Early
Business continuity planning will help you identify critical functions and ensure that those critical functions continue operating after a disruptive event occurs so that you maintain the ability to do business.
Critical functions differ from organization to organization, depending on the type of industry and the size of a given business. The key elements in any BCP, then, are identifying those critical functions, understanding which operations will be needed to keep them running, and having mechanisms in place that allow those critical functions to continue operating after an event occurs.
Even if you don’t think your organization is vulnerable to natural or manmade disasters, it’s a good idea to take some time to identify those critical functions and develop plans that will ensure they can continue operating after a disruption.
A business continuity plan without effective crisis communications or a disaster recovery plan without a business continuity approach will be incomplete.
For example, the loss of electricity is a serious disruption that affects many businesses. Without power, there’s no way for buildings to operate air conditioning systems. That can result in overheated or freezing employees, which will affect productivity and potentially drive people away from the organization. Again, even if you don’t think your company would be vulnerable to such an event, it’s a good idea to make sure that there are backup sources of power or ways to keep buildings cool until the electricity can be restored.
To help identify critical functions and develop business continuity plans, consider using: Industry/sector surveys Expert opinions Historical data Business impact analysis A good practice is to do an in-depth BCP review every year. Even if you don’t think your company is at risk, it’s a good idea to take some time every year to identify potential risks and put plans into place that can help mitigate those risks.
Business continuity planning is about understanding the risks an organization faces and putting mechanisms in place that will reduce the damage caused by disruptive events. The goal is to help a business continue operating as near normal as possible after disruptive events occur, which can reduce exposure to risk. By taking some simple steps to prepare for a disruptive event, you may be able to avoid the disruption or at least minimize its impact.
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