Business Continuity Plans: Keep Calm and Carry On with Impact Mitigation

When the much threatened 9.0 quake hits the Pacific Northwest, your first reaction should be, “OMG, we’ve just had a mega-quake. I want to make sure that my family and friends are safe.“ That’s cool. BUT – if cables and power lines get cut accidentally, you want to make sure that your reaction is not about “Yay! Unscheduled days off” but rather “I don’t have electricity and phones to run my business. How can I make sure I have electricity and phones, somewhere, to run my business?”

In other words, a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is really about planning for the impact of the event on your business and how you can continue to function or how fast you can recover. Take the approach of focusing on the potential impacts of the disaster and think about reasonable steps to help you mitigate those impacts. Remember, they could be as minor as phones down for a couple of days or as large as losing your entire building.

There’s also a big difference between having a Disaster Recovery Plan and having a Business Continuity Plan. Disaster recovery is a component of BCP. For example, your DRP has your data safe at an off-site secondary location several states away. Accessing that data so you can run your business is the BCP portion of the equation. Rather than data centered (disaster recovery) a BCP is business centered. You want to:

  • Assure you can continue to provide services to your customers.
  • Have a way to assure your customers that you are still in business – and stable!
  • Be able to reassure your vendors and business partners that you’re stable and can deliver services or products, despite delays.  

Start with a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) to identify what your core, mission-critical functions are and to determine the level of impact the loss of those functions could have on your business. For instance, you’ll consider:

  • Loss or delay of income.
  • Labor costs to re-start, stabilize. Increased expenses.
  • Potential fines or penalties due to regulations or service level agreements.
  • Loss of customers, customer satisfaction suffers.
  • New business development can’t happen.

To create a BIA, you’ll want to involve managers and other key personnel who have detailed knowledge of your business processes. Ask them what they think potential impacts to business are just as related to their particular areas of responsibility. Your BIA should identify not only the critical resources and business processes needed for business continuity, but also report which of those business processes take top priority, i.e., are most critical to resume first.

Call on Apgar & Associates to conduct a BIA for your business. We’ll also help you develop a BCP (with a DRP!): 877-376-1981.