Flood, fire, hurricane, prolonged illness, security breach, or billing error – disasters happen, and there’s no predicting when.
The good news is that you can prepare for the worst and minimize costly downtime with a business continuity plan (BCP). A BCP is a formalized document that outlines the procedures your team should take in the event of a natural or human-made catastrophe to resume business-as-usual operations.
Creating a BCP improves your company’s resilience. But while most business owners agree that these types of exercises should be a core part of any organization’s strategy, significantly less actually make things such as disaster recovery a focus.
It’s time to change this attitude, protect your business, and safeguard your reputation. Reviewing your BCP is a fantastic place to start.
Here are the top six mistakes in your business continuity plan.
Mistake 1: Your BCP only covers IT
Your business is more than its information technology – even if your product or service is 100 percent web-based. For one, you have employees, real-life people that get up and come to work every day. What’s more, you probably have a physical office.
The most effective BCP will encompass your entire enterprise and any interdependencies.
Mistake 2: Your BCP doesn’t include a risk assessment
Before you can create a BCP that will actually be helpful in the midst of a disaster, you need to know what kinds of disasters are the most likely to impact your business.
For example, if your business is located in an area prone to floods, keep this top of mind. Similarly, don’t use all your resources to create a hurricane response plan if, historically, your area has never fallen prey to a hurricane.
“Just as you would stock your home with supplies and prepare your property ahead of a storm, it is vital for businesses to understand their risk profile to ensure the availability and redundancy of their information technology (IT) operations before any natural disaster wreaks havoc.” – Forbes
Mistake 3: Your BCP doesn’t account for lost communication channels
In some cases, you won’t be able to pick up your phone and call your IT partner for help. You won’t be able to reach your customers by email or send a text message to your core team members.
Be sure to include a plan of action that accounts for lost access to communication channels. To start, be sure to record up-to-date employee contact information on paper, in case you lose your cell phone or computer.
Mistake 4: Your BCP isn’t step-by-step
In the heat of a disaster, your BCP should be easy to follow. The best way to ensure this is to write it out step-by-step, like a recipe. That way, when your team is in panic mode, there will be no confusion, second-guessing, or miscommunication.
Mistake 5: Your BCP doesn’t account for changes in personnel
People move on. They skip town. They take a promotion at another company. They decide to forgo their nine-to-five and live off-grid. Whatever the reason, your business has most likely undergone personnel changes since you last updated your BCP.
Be sure to check back regularly and update contact information and disaster recovery roles.
Mistake 6: You can’t access your BCP
It’s essential to have your BCP stored in several geographically distinct locations as both a digital file and a hardcopy.
Here’s why: If a hardcopy is housed in your office and your office burns down, it’s gone for good. If it’s saved locally on a computer and the computer breaks or loses power, you can’t access it. And, if your BCP is just stored in the cloud and you lose your internet connection, there’s no way of reaching it.