10 March 2020
2020 hasn’t been an easy start for everyone but particularly businesses in Australia. Back in January, 26% of Australian businesses reported that they have been affected by the bushfires (source). And while we are all still trying to recover from that, the Australian Department of Health has advised businesses to be prepared to activate their business continuity plan in face of coronavirus and the lingering impacts it might have to all businesses.
Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is something all businesses should have in place to prepare for any crisis situation. In this unprecedented time, it is even more important for businesses to create one if they haven’t already, or test their current plan and see if it still serves their business today.
What is a business continuity plan and why do I need one?
Business Continuity Planning (BCP) involves making a plan for how your business can prepare for and continue to operate after an incident or crisis. A BCP will help a business identify and reduce risk where possible, and to prepare for risks that can’t be controlled. It will also help businesses to respond and recover if an incident or crisis occurs (source).
6 essential steps to creating your business continuity plan
1. Identify the scope of your business continuity plan
The first and foremost step in creating a BCP is to decide how encompassing you want to be. What’s the primary objective? What kind of disaster will it account for? Will it cover all sites or is it specific to certain locations? What amount of resources do you plan to dedicate to your BCP? These questions will help inform you what your plan should look like at the end.
2. Identify key areas of business
While you would like to have all areas of your business up and running even in crisis time, it’s important to note key areas of your business and focus your time and resources to make sure that these areas are well covered.
3. Identify critical functions
Out of all the key areas you should now identify the critical functions of your business and ensure continuity of these critical functions so that they remain operational.
4. Identify dependencies between various business areas and critical functions
Business processes are often interwoven with one another. Hence it’s important to understand the dependencies between different processes and critical functions, and know exactly what and how operations will be affected should any of the critical functions be disrupted.
5. Determine acceptable downtime for each critical functions
Once you understand the critical functions of your business and how they are likely to affect other business processes, it’s time to determine how much downtime is acceptable for each function and ensure that you keep them within the acceptable level in order to minimise impact on the overall business.
6. Create a plan to maintain operations
Now that you know how much downtime is acceptable for each critical function, you should create a plan that details all the steps needed to maintain business operations. This could include having backup data storage in place or ensuring contact details of all key personnels are uptodate. It would also be a good idea to organise these stakeholders into different contact groups that reflect their responsibility on the different critical functions, so messages can be delivered only to those that need to respond.
The importance of communicating and testing your BCP
Now that you have a BCP in place, it is very important to communicate this to all your staff. Ensure that the plan is documented and that all your staff members, especially key stakeholders, understand the plan and more importantly their role within the plan. Ensure the plan is easily accessible. Depending on the type of business, you might need to create a different version and send that to your customers or suppliers.
Equally important is the testing of your BCP to ensure that it will work. The number of business processes, the amount of turnover of key personnel and changes on systems since the last testing are some of the factors to consider how often your organisation should test your BCP.
Make SMS part of your BCP
In crisis situations where time sensitive communication is needed, SMS is a great channel to keep your line of communication open to ensure your BCP is running smoothly.
- Ensure safety of staff members
- Monitor system 24/7 via automated SMS
- Improve customer communications
- Send alerts and notifications
- Manage security
If you’d like to know more about how SMS can help your business operation in difficult times, please get in touch at 1300 764 946 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.