A step-by-step guide to creating a business continuity plan

Many plan for the future while working on the present to have a sense of security in life. In the same manner, companies have every reason to future-proof their business because challenges come in many forms, from competition to industry trends and unforeseen events.

For instance, the novel coronavirus outbreak has imparted the valuable lesson that business operation methods could instantly go in an entirely new direction. Without early preparations, your company may find itself having difficulty coping with recent changes.

On the contrary, identifying potential business risks and coming up with solutions can save your company from a financial meltdown. This type of mindset is what a business continuity plan is all about. If your company doesn’t have one already, then it’s time to prioritise making one.

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

The idea behind a business continuity plan is to outline how you will continue operating should you encounter unexpected disruptions of whatever nature—a health crisis, security breach, natural disaster, or any other similar issue.

Besides these situations not being ideal for your company, there’s the fact that your customers, employees, and business partners are likely to be affected if you fail to respond to the emergency quickly. 

In the absence of a continuity plan, thinking on your feet about how you can mobilise your personnel and assets to safety and manage imminent threats to your company can pose some serious and dangerous challenges.

We at Select VoiceCom agree that a business continuity plan is vital for any organisation—and so we encourage you to create your own. Continue to the infographic below for a step-by-step guide to developing a comprehensive and adaptable continuity plan for your team.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Business Continuity Plan

The Importance of a Business Continuity Plan

No organisation is safe from disasters, whether of a physical or technical nature or involving internal or external factors. But having a business continuity plan can make a big difference.

The business continuity plan should contain all the information that team members need to know in handling an unexpected incident and tackle the following questions:

  • Who is in charge of implementing the plan when a disaster hits?
  • What steps or tools are necessary to mitigate risks during a crisis?
  • Where should you keep business data, or which alternate sites will serve as staff headquarters?
  • When should you carry out disaster recovery efforts?
  • How will teams communicate or operate during emergencies?
  • Why do all employees need to know the plan details?

Answering these questions is part and parcel of business continuity planning. The goal is to have a guide that will enable your organisation to respond swiftly to large-scale disruptions and minimise unwanted effects on your business.

Here are the various ways that your company can benefit from a business continuity plan.

Maintain your business operations. A major crisis can throw all sorts of challenges along your way. Still, you’ll be in a better position to combat them without needing to shut down operations because you have an established set of processes for such events.

Have a ready-to-implement action plan for pandemics or disasters. There’s no room for delays when it comes to handling disastrous events like natural calamities or pandemics. Having a plan makes it possible for your continuity team to deliver prompt and immediate responses and actions to save business assets.

Seek alternatives in your supply chain. When a business within your supply chain fails to deliver the product or service you need, your continuity plan can help you identify the best course of action in restoring supply at the soonest time possible.

Mitigate financial losses. Some companies have learned the hard—and costly—way that the lack of a business continuity plan means lost revenue and decreased profitability.

Research reveals that an IT infrastructure failure costs US$100,000 per hour, while the cost is even higher at $500,000 to $1 million per hour for critical application failures. The longer it takes for your organisation to restore business services or operations, the more money you lose.

Besides financial losses, not making business continuity planning a priority can lead to other dire consequences. These may include loss of customers and prospective investors, high employee turnover rates, tarnished business reputation, and even legal liabilities—all of which can have adverse effects on your bottom line.

Secure your competitive edge. It’s a harsh reality, but your customers expect you to try all possible means to make your products or services accessible despite a crisis. Addressing this need gives your company a competitive advantage while also building consumer confidence in your brand.

How to Create Your Business Continuity Plan

Business continuity planning involves several components, all of which come together to form a well-coordinated plan.

1. Identify your goals and objectives

Your business continuity plan should discuss what it hopes to achieve in critical situations. While the overall goal is to keep core processes running and minimise downtimes, you could also indicate more specific priorities.

These could be making data and applications accessible to end-users, protecting business teams or units, securing IT systems, communicating status updates to customers, and the like. Your goals will then lay the foundation of your business continuity planning process.

2. Create a continuity team

This team will be responsible in developing a plan of action and rolling it out to all employees. During an actual incident, your business continuity team should be quick to respond and provide directions for everyone else to follow.

It would help to designate a leader with a deep understanding of how your business operates, as this will be crucial in making sound and balanced decisions in critical moments.

3. Determine how specific risks may affect your daily operations

Since every business is different, potential risks or vulnerabilities will also vary. As such, part of your plan should involve identifying your company’s most prominent threats and most vulnerable areas.

This aspect is also known as the business impact analysis, which is where you assess how much you could potentially lose if your business processes were to go on pause for a few hours, days, or weeks.

Note that your business impact analysis has to cover all departments, from IT to human resources and customer service. By assessing the risks in each unit, you can focus your efforts on where they matter most.

4. Prepare a plan for critical functions of your business

After conducting your business impact analysis, you can now devise a plan to manage disruptions for each essential function or service. Do a gap analysis next, where you identify your available resources and those that you should have to ensure consistency in service delivery.

For example, suppose your business involves performing a series of interactions with customers. In that case, it may be an excellent option to take advantage of call centre services. These organisations have the facilities, technologies, and staff that can be readily available in times of disasters.

5. Test, evaluate, and update the plan

In testing your business continuity plan, try to identify areas for improvement, get feedback from key personnel, and create various risk scenarios to ensure that it works as it should at every level. An annual review of the business continuity plan is ideal, so your company can incorporate new strategies or technologies to accommodate current business needs.

Business as Usual

Businesses constantly face challenges from unforeseen events, disasters, and threats. Inadequate or improper response to these scenarios can have a severe and long-term negative impact, causing some to shut down operations temporarily or for good.

However, these types of disruptions are not entirely uncontrollable. You can weather most of these emergencies through business continuity planning to ensure that it’s business as usual for you.

As Australia’s premier call centre partner in the Philippines, Select VoiceCom is confident we can go and grow through any business challenge with you. Let’s discuss your business continuity plan.

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