Owners of small- and medium-sized businesses don’t always realize the devastating impact of downtime on their organizations until they experience it themselves. Twenty-five percent of respondents to a 2020 survey of SMBs reported that server downtime cost them between $301,000 and $400,000 on average. Seventeen percent said it cost them over $5 million.
To spare your business such losses in 2023 and beyond, it’s crucial to have a robust business continuity plan (BCP) in place. This article will explain how to create your own BCP in six simple steps and provide tips to keep in mind during the planning process.
What is a business continuity plan?
A BCP is a plan or set of protocols designed to maintain or quickly restore business functions after a major disaster, such as natural calamities like floods and fires, cybersecurity threats, and pandemics. While disaster recovery plans focus on restoring IT infrastructure, a BCP encompasses the broader objective of ensuring the continuity of your entire organization.
Developing a BCP in six steps
By following these six steps, you can create a business continuity plan that will help your business recover quickly and efficiently from any disruptions:
- Assemble a team: The first step is to assemble a dedicated team that will be responsible for developing and implementing your BCP. Make sure you include representation from IT, operations, HR, and all other relevant branches of your business on this team.
- Prioritize employee safety: It is important to make sure that your employees are safe before and during a disruption. This might mean making plans for evacuations, teaching emergency responses, and creating ways for employees to communicate with one another and with management.
- Understand your risks: The next step is to identify the specific risks that your business faces. This could include external factors such as natural disasters common to your region, cyberattacks prevalent in your industry, or supply chain disruptions. It could also include internal threats to business continuity, such as high employee turnover rate. You will need to conduct a business impact analysis to better identify these risks and assess their potential impact on your business operations.
- Develop recovery strategies: Once you know what risks your business faces, you can start developing recovery strategies to address those risks. This may include having a backup generator, deploying security measures, conducting employee training, and having other contingencies.
- Test and improve your plan: It is important to test your BCP regularly to make sure that it is up to date and that your employees know how to implement it. You can do this by conducting drills or simulations. Regular assessments are great at identifying flaws caused by outside factors, infrastructure, or timing. It is better to realize gaps and weaknesses in your plans during testing than during an actual crisis.
- Review and revise your plan annually: The business world and the risks to your business are constantly changing, so it is important to review your BCP annually and make sure that it is still relevant and capable of responding to new threats.
A few BCP tips for SMBs
As you construct your business continuity plan, keep the following tips in mind:
- Use available resources: There are resources available to help SMBs develop and implement a plan. For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency offers multiple resources on its website, including a template for developing a business continuity plan.
- Management support: Make sure your BCP has the support and participation of senior management to ensure hassle-free maintenance and implementation.
- Start small: You don’t need to develop a comprehensive, all-encompassing BCP overnight. Start by identifying the most critical aspects of your business and developing recovery strategies for those areas.
- Keep it simple: Your BCP should be easy to understand and implement. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that your employees may not be familiar with as this can hinder them from carrying out their BCP roles and responsibilities.
Combine these tips and steps so you can start creating your own business continuity plan. To learn more about BCPs and other solutions to protect your operations, connect with PCA today.