Business continuity planning represents a written plan or series of steps a company takes to ensure it remains a going concern. These plans are often put into action when a company needs to recover from a disaster or put new management into place to maintain future business operations. The steps needed to create this plan are to initiate a meeting, conduct a business analysis, and develop the plan. There is no time frame in which a company has to complete its business continuity planning process. In most cases, however, it may take several weeks to fully design a workable plan.
Companies must be ready for any and all issues that arise during normal business operations. Natural disasters are among the biggest issues a company can go through, many times without much warning. A company often makes a list of the potential natural disasters that can affect its operations. Plans are then necessary to determine how a company will maintain its supply of natural resources, protect its employees, and rebuild or repair physical facilities both during and after a natural disaster. Different plans may be necessary for different natural disasters.
Longevity often comes from different steps in business continuity planning. Owners and executives must be able to provide plans for how the company will last longer than the current management team. This plan often outlines how a company will shift responsibilities from current owners and managers to the next individuals who will run the company. In many cases, this is the classical definition of business continuity planning. Plans and steps for this process are under constant review as a company changes through multiple business environments.
To start business continuity planning, a meeting among current owners, executives, and managers is necessary. This initiation allows for a review on what needs to be included in the continuity plan. This early stage is often about gathering data and conducting overarching reviews. Companies often have a breakdown of the plan for each department or activity group in the business. Therefore, detailed plans are in place that match the needs of everyone in the business.
Business analysis requires a review of all internal and external factors that can affect a company’s business operations. The continuity plan looks for gaps that can result when outside forces alter current operations. Knowing these forces can help a company focus its analytical techniques during the review phase. It can even shorten the time needed to complete this stage.
Once the two previous stages are complete, the company can develop its continuity plan. This represents the actual written plan to put into place. Educating employees on the plan is often necessary to ensure no hiccups occur during implementation.