How to make a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

14 March, 2014 Every company continually creates new data such as emails, invoices, financial reports and HR files and client contracts. These items are all vital to the running of a business. Their sudden lost would be devastating and in many cases result in the closure of a company.

Making a Business Continuity Plan (BCP), is a vital step that every company should undertake. It costs virtually nothing to produce and yet it helps ensure your company can continue doing business in the event of a fire, flood, earthquake, hurricane, theft, terrorism, sabotage, system failure, virus attack or even pandemic illnesses. Cyber attack.

BCPs are closely related to Disaster Recovery Plans (DRP), and often combined in to a single document, however they are not the same. A DRP is focused on recovery after a disaster, whereas a BCP sets out how to continue doing business until a complete recovery is made. It identifies a company’s exposure to internal and external threats to assets and provides effective prevention and recovery for the company. For example, it covers how employees would stay in touch and keep working, and impact on the supply chain or loss of critical infrastructure such as machinery or computing network.

Business Continuity Plans (BCP) are closely related to Disaster Recovery Plans (DRP)

  1. Make a contact list of key employees who are critical to the running of your company. It should include personal contact details such as private emails, mobiles and home address.
  2. List contact details for clients, suppliers and advisors such as insurers, legal advisors, banks, police and fire protection too. It is important to update this list on a regular basis.
  3. Plan how you will communicate in the event of disaster. Have options that cover various scenarios for example your phone and computer will likely be down.
  4. Plan how to keep staff and clients informed about progress on getting your company back up and running again.
  5. Make provision to keep staff, facilities and products protected and secure. Have contact details of police, fire department and security providers who can provide guards and board up facilities.
  6. Have an alternative work facility ready to go operational. It should be far away enough from your existing business so it won’t be affected by the same disruptive events. Perhaps a branch office in another city. Consider some level of ongoing operations from this location so it can scale up easily. List details for hotels and temporary office providers.
  7. In the event of a natural disaster, travel may be impossible. Which staff can work from home and what equipment and software do they need?
  8. Have a reliable data backup system that copies all new data documents frequently. The system should located offsite so it remains unaffected by the disaster situation. You should be able to restore data quickly and securely. Learn more about OSG’s IT-Archive online backup which works non-stop to encrypt and transfer your data to a dedicated server stored at OSG. Or OSG’s Safe storage for backup tapes.
  9. Check that your product suppliers and service providers have suitable recovery plans and can continue to meet your requirements.
  10. Consider hosting some of your services out of the area so when you’re hit with a disruption, your systems stay safe and steady.
  11. Rehearse. It is the best way to be prepared for the unexpected and know if your plan is comprehensive enough. It makes sense to carry out this process out of office hours. Add plan ‘B’ and ‘C’ options to be extra safe. If you make any major changes, test again.
  12. Make sure several key people have PDF and hard copies at the office and home. And appoint responsibility for regular checks and updates.
  13. Create an inventory of all equipment so you can check which items have been lost. Learn more about OSG’s inventory service.
  14. Create a list of key operational priorities. What needs to be up and running first? Who has responsibility.
  15. Ensure duplicates of vital legal documents are kept offsite. Learn more about OSG’s document storage service.
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