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How flexible is your BCP?

How flexible is your BCP?

As Business Continuity professionals, we see a lot of plans. We develop plans for our clients, we help mentor clients on how to build their plans themselves, we review existing plans for gaps, and we audit plans. One consistent concern across all plans, regardless of their size, is it a flexible BCP. At what point is your plan too rigid? How do you know if you have just enough – or too much – information? Do you need responses for every single type and depth of scenario out there? If you don’t know the answers to any of these questions, don’t worry, we’re here to help!

What do we mean by flexible BCP?

For the purposes of this post, we are talking about how well your BCP allows you to adapt, and appropriately respond, to different types of incidents. You should be able to use the same BCP to respond to a fire, a train derailment, a power outage, or an active threat. This might seem a bit daunting; how can one plan possibly respond to all of these things? Simple! The answers are in your plan content and structure, and training.

 

Plan content and structure

Two key areas of a flexible BCP are in the response and recovery steps, and the supporting documentation. The response and recovery steps document exactly what steps you need to take when an incident occurs. But, these steps do not need to be so detailed that they are difficult to follow. For example, one of your steps might be “Inform vendors of the incident and provide temporary instructions.” You do not need to then list the name of every vendor you need to contact for every type of incident. Simply include a reference to your vendor database. That way, you select which vendors you contact depending on what has been impacted by the incident.

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Never, say never… 

Never, say never… 

Previously we wrote about the fall-out from the Lac Megantic rail disaster – the deadliest Canadian rail disaster since 1867.  Many lessons were learned from the two-year investigation that followed.  While less catastrophic, the recent post-Hurricane Harvey Arkema plant explosion near Houston, Texas, will also reveal its own take-aways.

However, even without results from investigations into the Arkema explosions, these incidents deliver a critical lesson: ‘Never say never’.

The 'perfect storm' in Lac Megantic

At Lac Megantic, there were 18 factors that led to the rail disaster, taking 47 lives and devastating an entire town.  Each factor, considered in isolation, never would have predicted the disaster that resulted: a short-cut on an engine repair; a small engine fire; an improper brake test; insufficient brakes set; a train left unattended at the top of a hill.  While any one of these factors would have not created the disaster that resulted, unfortunately, for the community and the rail company, many of them collided on one fateful night.

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3 Ways Your BCP Can Help You During The Holidays

Demonstrating return on investment is one of the main barriers to launching a new Business Continuity Plan (BCP) project. Many organizations have difficulty justifying the expense of building a BCP and funding it’s maintenance over time. A healthy organization that has never experienced an interruption may focus on the real possibility of a zero ROI. If an organization is able to dodge the proverbial bullet, it’s true, the project may never yield much return. However, even in the case of extreme luck, there are three distinct ways that a BCP helps you with non-emergency operations in your organization.

1 – Holiday Closures

With the holiday season upon us, business closures can be a difficult puzzle to solve. Whether in the manufacturing or service sector, it can be tough to determine how to shutdown and restart the business. Add in the need to share these impacts both inside and outside of the organization and this task can seem enormous. Thankfully, a solid BCP will give you the information you need to make this happen. The BCP tells you which critical processes need the most attention; it includes instructions for internal and external communications; and it lists all critical vendors, suppliers and customers that may need special attention. The BCP acts as a manual of steps for a short term holiday closure. The New Year will ring in the return to operations-as-usual.

One important item to note is that using the BCP in such closures serves as a plan exercise. This will help identify any pitfalls in the plan and inform the next iteration. Exercises ensure your plan becomes an even more robust and useful resource.

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