It’s 8:30 a.m. on a Tuesday and your office building is on fire. The staff is streaming out of the building. The fire department is on the scene and is extinguishing the flames. The big question: Would you know what to do to keep your most critical operations functioning?
Financial institutions, manufacturers, emergency service agencies and select others have been addressing this question for decades, but as our world becomes a more volatile place, companies around the globe are wondering: What if?
The business continuity industry is still relatively young. Only a few universities offer degrees in the field, and most professionals have learned business continuity while putting out a fire, debugging a software glitch or getting a colleague out of a sticky situation. As you consider developing a business continuity plan, here are five things you should consider:
- Find out who’s in charge – and who cares. Who wants this plan? Is your company ticking a box to fulfill a requirement? Are your senior executives invested in the plan? Ultimately, they’re responsible for the company, so they should be invested. Make sure you have their buy-in first.
- Be flexible. “Plans are nothing. Planning is everything.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower. Those of you who’ve ever planned a surprise birthday party know how tenuous plans can be. Constantly ask yourself: what&nsp;if?
- Make sure the right people are involved. Unless you operate a very small company with one or two simple processes, you’ll need to engage with knowledgeable people throughout the organization.
- Plan for everything, but don’t plan for everything. This may seem obvious, but it is truly impossible to plan for everything. And yet, your companies might just want you to do that. Develop an all-hazards approach to responding to an incident, but also develop a few specific plans for incidents you are likely to face.
- Practice. It isn’t sufficient for a plan to sit dormant on your colleagues’ bookshelves. It needs to be tested; your people need to exercise it. It needs to be internalized so that it serves merely as a reference when the bomb goes off or the power is cut.
Business continuity planning is a multifaceted process. It is not, however, rocket science. Common sense prevails, but different industries face different needs. Heed the advice above and your team will know what to do when the sky is falling.
D’Ardenne Associates offers training and consulting services based on BS25999, the British Standard for business continuity. Chris Turnbull is a certified Business Continuity professional and for six years was the Senior Business Continuity Officer for Global Operations at the World Bank. He has worked with individuals in more than 30 countries to plan for, respond to and recover from business interruptions. He has personally responded to scores of incidents around the globe.
So if you’re thinking “what if?” think of D’Ardenne Associates.
This post was written by Roy D'Ardenne