Life is a finicky thing. Sometimes the best laid plans work out. Sometimes they don’t. When things are running smooth most of us may not like to think about the ‘what if’ situations that might come up later on down the road. However, business owners do not have this luxury. This is because no matter what happens, whether it’s a natural disaster or some other major event within the company, they need to stay operational. After all, any time a business is not operational, it is not making money.
Business continuity is all about planning. Creating such a plan before it is needed is vital to making sure that you are able to implement said plan. There are four steps to creating a successful plan:
- Conduct a business impact analysis. This will help identify sensitive information and programs, and allow you to come up with support measures for each item identified. This is critical if your business is especially reliant on IT services as having backups for everything these days is often a good idea.
- Identify critical business functions. Create a barebones strategy. While no business owner will ever want to take his or her staff down to barebones, there are certain situations where this may happen. For instance, during a major disaster or other national event. If for some reason your staff is cut off from your facilities, but certain machines need to remain operational, you will want their operators in the building to tend to them.
- Create and emergency response team. Again a barebones section of staff that would be put on standby to take over critical operations in the event of an emergency.
- Test your plan. Perhaps one of the most critical areas of the planning stage is to test the plan you want to implement. Doing so prior to an event will allow you to correct any potential problems that may arise. Remember it’s better to be prepared then to be caught off guard.
Once the plan has been created and tested it will be ready for implementation should the need arise. If you feel it is needed, conduct periodic training sessions so that your entire staff is fully prepared in the event of an emergency.
The third step in approaching a situation where your business may not be fully functional for a period of time is to plan your recovery. Once the emergency has passed it will be time to bring your business back up to full power.
A business continuity plan is something all business owners should have, yet nobody wants to use. Knowing what to do to keep the lights on in the event of an emergency is important though as it will help regain a sense of normalcy a little bit quicker.
[author ]ohn Shelton is a business owner that utilizes his down time by giving advice to future and current business owners.[/author]