Simple Business Continuity Plan – Development
Developing your Business Continuity Plan In-House
If you are the person who has been placed in charge of developing a Business Continuation or Disaster Recovery Plan from in-house, take a deep breath — and then relax. You won’t be responsible for finding all the things that need to go into your Plan — your co-workers will be providing most of it!
Step One: Identify a core group of co-workers.
Your first task will be to identify a core group of co-workers – people who are interested in planning, know something about responding to disasters, etc. The members of your core group could come from anywhere within the organization, and may not be from the ranks of management. For example, your team might have someone with medical training, someone with military experience, or someone who is a retired First Responder. You can work with HR to identify some of these people, or maybe send out a brief email questionnaire, or simply talk it up in the coffee room. The key is to get people who are interested in the topic, not people who are “assigned” it!
Step Two: Provide your core group with training.
Training may be available locally, in person, as classes offered by the Red Cross or CERT training offered by your City. Training is also available online. Check out the American Red Cross’s Ready Rating program for business, and Citizen Corps Online CERT training. These programs also offer suggestions for procedures and sample forms you may find useful. Dig deeper and review from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) the National Incident Management System and Incident Command System, so your core group will be comfortable communicating with other professional organizations.
People who are genuinely interested will value this training, particularly if the company provides them some time to get it, and recognizes their progress.
Step Three: Now, involve the rest of your co-workers.
With your core group in place, now you can involve others. After all, if you want your co-workers to understand the risks faced by the business, they need to be involved in identifying them.
And if you want to find the best ways to prevent emergencies from turning into disasters, again, just ask your co-workers! They will know more than any outsider about the equipment and materials they use, the state of the building, the potential for fires or floods, and the challenges associated with an evacuation.
The missing piece in most Plans.
We have seen a lot of plans and nearly all of them are missing one key component that dooms them to failure! It is a consideration for the peace of mind of employees regarding their own families. Until that is assured, you cannot count on employees paying attention to their responsibilities at the business! Be sure to include a family communications plan and invest in whatever it takes to make it functional.
Step Four: Develop the content of the plan.
1. Lay out a schedule for “building the plan,” starting with a series of brainstorming sessions. (Remember the definition of brainstorming: coming up with as many ideas as possible, without any attempt to judge them!)
2. Hold these brainstorming sessions and their logical follow-up sessions. Here are some of the topics you would want to cover. Each could be covered at a different meeting. Some input might even be assessed via email or questionnaires.
a. Identify threats to the business
b. Rate threats based on likelihood of risks
c. Rate threats based on impact on the business (hours, days, weeks or longer to recover?)
d. What can we do to avoid these threats altogether?
e. What can we do to mitigate/lessen the impact of these threats?
f. What response procedures work best for our business?
g. Special procedure: How will we manage communications with families of employees?
3. Document the threats, the avoidance or mitigation measures, and the response procedures that have been suggested.
4. Set out a list of recommendations that result from the brainstorming session.
5. Draft the first version of the Plan.
Step Five: Now, ask for input from outside experts.
Having put together the guts of your Plan, you can be confident that it is meaningful for your co-workers and for your business. Still, it is important that the Plan pass whatever “official standards” it may be held to.
The next installment of this series will discuss who should be invited to take a look at your Plan before you consider it finished.
Here’s the link to Installment 3 – Validation
If you’re in a hurry to get all this information in one convenient package, check out our free, 6-page Report: Simple Business Continuation Plan.