Creating a Business Continuity Plan

Few people like to consider the worst-case scenario, and business owners are no different. Unfortunately, no one can predict the future. While you may never be in a scenario where you lose a massive amount of profits or business data, it’s absolutely critical that you’re prepared for such an occasion. Being stuck without a plan all but guarantees that a disaster could end your business for good.

The type of plan you need is twofold: a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan. The distinction is subtle, but important to understand during the planning process. Let’s take a look at both and what they mean.

A disaster recovery and business continuity plan could make a world of difference in a crisis situation. Here’s what they both mean. #Enstep Click To Tweet

Disaster Recovery Planning

Before we look at how to set up both types of plans, it’s important to know the difference:

A disaster recovery plan concerns your business’s immediate response to an emergency and how things return to normal afterward.

A business continuity plan deals with how you’ll continue operations during the recovery process, if at all.

Disaster recovery plans depend on the nature of your business and the type of disaster you’re facing. While exact details will vary, there are several common factors you should consider. First and foremost, what about your employees? Will they return to work shortly after the disaster has ended? If so, will they return to the normal office or work offsite?

Secondly, take stock of your office equipment, both essential and merely preferential. How much of it can you quickly replace following a disaster? What would you need to be replaced immediately and what can wait? This question applies to your office location too, since your typical space may be unusable.

Finally, consider the financial impact of this disaster. Aside from the cost of downtime, you must also consider what your insurance provider will cover and what your out of pocket costs will be. Replacing your equipment will increase your costs temporarily–do you have the budget to cover it all?

Pro Tip: Using a cloud backup system for your business data will keep it largely safe from natural disasters that can destroy physical electric storage units.

Business Continuity Planning

If you attempt to maintain business as usual during or immediately following a disaster, your first priority should be ensuring the safety and well-being of your employees. Assuming that your plan is safe, however, there are several more things to consider for business continuity.

First, you can’t simply create a general plan and apply it to every scenario. A data breach requires a different response than a hurricane, for example. Make an educated guess on which type of disaster is most likely to affect your business and structure your plan around that guess.

Second, similar to your disaster plan, take inventory of your office equipment and supplies to determine what you absolutely need to function. Protecting or replacing these things quickly should be your top priority to get back on your feet.The more equipment you have available, the smoother your return to work will be.

Third, prepare as much ahead of time as possible. Consult your insurance company, back up your company’s data, stock your office with emergency kits, and develop a backup plan in case something goes south. The more time you take for risk assessment and preparation now, the less you have to waste in an emergency situation.

Implementing Your Plans

Now that you have a disaster plan for your business, don’t lose track of it! Neither should you assume that your plan is set in stone for the foreseeable future. Keep your plan in an easily accessible location and be prepared to revisit it whenever circumstances change. Update an evacuation plan if your office moves, for instance, or adjust your emergency budget as necessary. Keep your plans ready for an emergency response.

Keep Your Business Running

Disasters will have a lasting effect on your business, and you could feel the damage for years to come. You can’t protect yourself from every possible scenario. However, with effective planning and implementation, you can minimize the damage and get back on track as soon as possible.

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