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Posted by: KingsBridge
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The Essentials in Business Continuity Program Management

What comes after the Business Continuity Plan?

Often times organizations put immense effort into the building phase of a Business Continuity project. They will strategize, mitigate, plan, document and discuss in great details to ensure the final product, their Business Continuity Plan, represents all the elements they will require in the event of a disaster. But then what happens? All of the steps are documented, the contact information is confirmed, and the supporting documentation is up to date. Often times these project leaders will scratch their heads and think “Now what?” An excellent question! And one that requires a little bit of explanation.

The Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is simply that; a plan to help your business continue operating when there is a disaster. It should include everything your business needs in order to continue operations after an incident. But there needs to be a structure in place within your business in order for this plan to be to maintained. Enter the Business Continuity Program.

The Business Continuity Program lays out all of the steps needed to make sure your plan will be implemented smoothly when a disaster occurs. It includes a plan of action for:

  • Socializing the plan throughout your organization.  It goes without saying that a plan can’t be implemented if people don’t know about it! Create opportunities to introduce new employees to the plan.
  • Maintaining the plan content.  The information in your plan is only as helpful as it is accurate, so it needs to be reviewed on a regular basis. Any changes in business operations, vendors, suppliers and more will likely need to be reflected in your plan.
  • Training employees on their responsibilities.  Everyone at your business needs to know what to do – and what not to do – when the BCP is enacted.  Seek out methods of reminding all staff of their roles and responsibilities during an incident.
  • Exercising the plan.  Ask your employees to sit down and run through the BCP in a hypothetical scenario (like a fire, bomb threat, or tornado). Exercising helps to socialize and maintain the plan, as well as train employees on their responsibilities.
  • Auditing the plan against industry standards.  Different industries or countries have different requirements for their BCPs. It is important that your BCP comply with appropriate standards to achieve a successful recovery.

This might seem like a lot of work when you are just starting out, so start small. When building your Business Continuity Program, start with drafting the schedule for when each of these will be completed (quarterly, annually, or every three years). Then determine how they will be completed. In our KingsBridge Blog “BCP on a Budget”, it was suggested that standard evacuation drills can be used to do a quick exercise by asking employees what they would do if they could not re-enter the building for the day. Other suggestions include socializing the plan by adding it to the agenda for monthly or quarterly department meetings, or including BCP responsibilities in employees’ job descriptions and performance reviews.

Regardless of the methods used, putting the time and effort into developing the Business Continuity Program now will save you and the organization from missteps if or when disaster strikes later.