Continuity and contingency planning concerns an institution’s preparedness for disruptions like broken equipment, cyber-attack, earthquakes, and system failure among other disruptions and quickly getting back to your feet. BCP identifies most crucial parts of an organization, identifies potential risks that can affect the business, and prepares an organization to get back to its normal operations quickly and easily when it encounters disruptions (Elder, J. & Elder, S., (2019). Contingency planning, on the other hand, is a critical part of BCP because it means having a back-up plan in cases where the original plan fails to work. BCP should not only focus on what to do after a disruption occurs but should cover risks and threats that may affect the most critical parts of a business or business processes.
Legally, businesses are not required to prepare BCP but the fact that many businesses struggle to get back to business after a disaster or a disruption makes it essential to have BCP in place. Besides, BCP not only benefits the business but it also makes potential customers and investors have confidence in the business because they feel their affairs are considered (Wallace & Webber, 2018). Also, staff members have much confidence in the business especially when they are involved in the BCP process (Kliem & Richie, 2016). BCP planning enables a business to seek outside services like payroll outsourcing when they spot a good opportunity. With a BCP in place, an organization can bargain for a lower insurance premium because an insurance company will see the resiliency in the management of the business and perceive low risks thus attracting low insurance premiums.
Steps during contingency planning
During the contingency planning, an organization should consider the risks when things go wrong. Besides, how a business should get back swiftly to its operations after disruptions is a critical consideration (Wallace, & Webber, 2018). If it is not possible to get into the business, as usual, a business should consider the options it can use to resume its operations (Kliem & Richie, 2016). Thus, contingency planning requires that business thing of different options and not absolute solutions.
Identification of key products and services
The first step during the identification of key products and services of a business is determining the risks of most critical parts of the business and determine how to reduce the risks. Also, it is important to identify the steps that can be used to carry out the activities to reduce the risks and determine the resources required (Wallace & Webber, 2018). Besides, determining if it can be possible to operate when the parts of the system are not fully functioning is important. Most importantly (Kliem & Richie, 2016). During disruptions it important to know the least profitable activities and stop them immediately during disruptions.
Identification of key internal people
Key internal people can be business partners, staff, the board of directors, and the management. It is important to determine if it will be possible to work without some staff during disruption (Wallace & Webber, 2018). Identifying if a business heavily depends on one staff, tool, or a machine to carry out key processes or tasks is essential (Elder, J. & Elder, S., (2019). Also, it is important to identify the role and duties of the key staff. Moreover, the business should outline how it can get temporary staff on short notice and determine how staff and their families can be supported during disruptions.
Identification of key connections
In the identification of key connections step, the organization must assess how robust its supply chain and determine if they have backup suppliers in case the main supplier fail to make their delivery. Besides, the business must determine its main means of transport and asses if they can have another option if the means of transport like road, rail, or air fails (Kliem & Richie, 2016). Also, the company should have the option of hiring vehicles to incase its vehicles to develop mechanical problems. Also, the company should identify what it can do to get back to its feet and assess its relationship with banks, landlords, and advisors.
Identification of essentials supplies and equipment
In this step, the organization, if it uses its equipment, should determine if it can borrow or rent alternative equipment if their equipment becomes faulty. Besides, the business should assess the possibility of staff using personal computers if organizational computers fail or unavailable (Snedaker & Rima, 2014). Thus, it is important to identify those who have suitable devices and agree on how the company can compensate for internet use and the use of personal computers to carry out organizational business.
Considerations of relocation option
The company should identify how it can shift location but keep its business and flow of customers’ normal without interference. Also, during disruptions, critical organizational activities must continue, thus, the company must assess and determine the possibility of staff working from home in cases of disruptions (Clark, 2015). Also, the company can ask their competitors, suppliers, and customers if they can give a room in their premises in times of disaster (Elder, J. & Elder, S., (2019). Moreover, the means of communication with customers in case of relocation should be properly laid out to ensure a smooth transition.
Insurance options considerations
Insurance is an important aspect of the business because it covers losses that an organization can encounter as a result of the disaster. Thus, the company should identify what can happen in cases of disruptions or disaster and determine if it is insured (Snedaker & Rima, 2014). Most importantly, the business should asses if business interruption that covers losses after an emergency is necessary for terms of cost and benefit analysis.
Identification of one who can run the business in the absence of key staff
The company should identify who can take charge of the responsibilities of a key member of staff in their absence as a result of sickness, resignations, and in worst scenarios death. Identifying an individual to take over from the key staff is critical for a business to get back to its feet (Wallace, & Webber, 2018). Furthermore, the business should designate roles and duties for each staff members to help it back on its feet after disruptions.
Keeping contact details handy
Contacts of people and organizations that can save the situation during disruptions are critical. The business should assess if it has all emergency details ready. The list can include emergency services, staff, suppliers, and clients (Snedaker & Rima, 2014). Also, the contacts for nearing business, Security Company, and insurance details are critical requirements in this stage (Wallace, & Webber, 2018). Also, it is good to ensure that the contact list is up to date frequently to capture any changes.
Backup of important data
The company must identify critical data that is important to its business in this stage. The data may include files, customer details, spreadsheets, and emails. Also, sensitive data which include tax documents, bank details, and personal files should be backed up to ensure they are not lost during disruptions (Clark, 2015). The frequency at which a company backs up its data is also essential because it determines the extent to which data can be lost hence determines the extent damage (Elder, J. & Elder, S., (2019). Thus, the backup of critical data and information is important to the business because it will reduce the extent of loss and damage in cases of disruptions.
Just like an emergency plan, BCP should not be stored on shelves after it is documented but should be tested and tried with relevant staff at least annually. The testing process should not be time-consuming or expensive (Wallace, & Webber, 2018). During BCP testing, the company should run a 20-minute stress analysis test exercises where the staff is given scenarios to plan for. Rather than fixing the disasters like a power outage or natural disasters, the company should focus on how it can manage the consequences of the event. The staff should be able to know what they do when an important machine is not working and the company should identify the options available when the premises are closed (Clark, 2015). Although two crises cannot be the same, similar solutions can be used in two different situations. It is also important to note that when a business evolves, its BCP plan should also change to cater for the changes. The following is a list of BCP testing that the organization will carry out.
|Component test||Confirmation that key equipment or procedure is operating. For instance, calling emergency numbers.|
|Walkthrough||Discussion on how key staff will react in case of emergency|
|Desktop||This is a controlled simulation where the people in charge carry out a test and react as planned|
|Rehearsal||Trusted people respond to disruptions and rehearse their recovery|
|‘Real’ life incident||An actual incident that is used to test the tactic and strategies developed during the planning stage.|
Clark, R. A. (2015). Validating your business continuity plan: Ensuring your BCP works.
Elder, J. H., & Elder, S. F. (2019). Faster disaster recovery: The business owner’s guide to developing a business continuity plan
Kliem, R. L., & Richie, G. D. (2016). Business continuity planning: A project management approach.
Snedaker, S., & Rima, C. (2014). Business continuity and disaster recovery planning for IT professionals.Wallace, M., & Webber, L. (2018). The disaster recovery handbook: A step-by-step plan to ensure business continuity and protect vital operations, facilities, and assets.
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