Business continuity planning (BCP) can help your business prepare for and respond to disasters like a fire, flood or technology crisis. When it comes to small business risk
management, preparing for the worst can give your business a solid foundation to recover if the unexpected happens. From getting small business insurance
to developing and testing your plan, see how a BCP can help you run a successful company.
What Is a Business Continuity Plan?
We can help you if you’re wondering, “What is a business continuity plan?” With a business continuity plan, you can help restore your company’s operations faster after a disaster. This plan is part of business continuity management
Business continuity planning takes time and effort to put together. It requires looking at business process and business operations to determine how a disaster can affect these areas. Despite this, it’s an important part to your business’ risk management strategy. If a disaster strikes, a business continuity plan can:
- Reduce loss by restoring operations quicker
- Save lives through crisis communications
- Speed recovery through limiting downtime
What Are the Four Components of Business Continuity Planning?
Plans are specific to each company, but they generally include four key categories:
- Assessment: Complete risk assessments and examine how your business currently operates. Identify key business areas that can get impacted by a disaster or emergency. Having a risk avoidance strategy can help make this assessment.
- Preparedness: Put measures and processes in place to put your business in the best position to respond to emergencies.
- Response: Know how to respond to different types of disasters and
- Recovery: Create recovery strategies to restore business operations and help reduce losses.
What Is the Most Important Component of a Business Continuity Plan?
There’s no one single most important component of a business continuity plan. Each part of a BCP works together to help ensure your business continues operating after an emergency. From including key personnel to ensuring a response plan for critical business areas, a business continuity plan should look at all elements of a company. The key parts to include in your business continuity plan should be assessment, preparedness, response and recovery.
What Should a Business Continuity Plan Contain?
While every company is unique, a business continuity plan should contain information on general areas of your business. As you go through the business continuity planning process, some areas you may want to include are:
- Facilities: Examine and assess your business’ facilities. Look at the exterior and interior of buildings and note any areas that are at risk of damage.
- Organization: Review your business’ organization chart. Identify key personnel and employees who can help with recovery. Be sure to include their contact information.
- Applications and Data: Make sure business applications and data are protected. Cyberattacks are increasing in frequency, so be sure you know how to protect your data and respond to an attack.
- Strategy: Conduct a business impact analysis (BIA) and create a recovery strategy to help reduce your business’ downtime and losses after an emergency. Determine a recovery time objective (RTO) to understand when operations have to be restored to avoid catastrophic damages.
- Technology: Ensure computer systems can operate after an emergency. Identify what needs to happen if these systems shut down.
- Processes: Identify key processes that your business needs to continue operating after an emergency. Understand how to quickly get these processes back online if they shut down.
Testing Your Business Continuity Plan Is Important
A business continuity plan isn’t valuable if it doesn’t work. That’s why regularly testing your business continuity plan is important. Testing in a controlled setting can help ensure your plan and strategies work. So, if an emergency happens or disaster strikes, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your business continuity plan works.
It's a good idea to test your business continuity plan every quarter, or four times a year. You can test your plan through two methods:
The table-top exercise involves your business continuity management team reviewing the plan. The goal is to identify and address any gaps in the plan.
A structured walk-through involves using the plan to respond to a hypothetical disaster. This could be a fire or a cyberattack that shuts down key business operations. A walk-through can help you identify weak areas in your business that can affect recovery efforts.
Other tips to help you with testing your BPC are:
- Conducting pre-training for your business continuity management team and employees
- Creating policies and procedures for training, tests and drills
- Documenting test activities and results
Updating Your Business Continuity Plan
Equally important to regularly testing your plan is keeping it current. You should audit your plan at least once a year. This involves:
- Reviewing and identifying areas to update.
- Assessing the chain of command
- Evaluating resources, employee knowledge and awareness
It’s a good idea to update your plan accordingly if your business:
- Gets new operations, equipment or materials
- Changes or adds new vendors
- Adds new sites or building layouts
- Goes through a major deal, like a merger or acquisition
The Hartford Can Help
We know how hard you work to run your business. And we understand that creating a business continuity plan takes time. We can help you with developing a BCP and other risk management strategies, like getting the right type of small business insurance