There are a series of business processes that can be overlooked when running a day to day business. But the need for those processes becomes apparent in situations like COVID-19, where we face the unexpected. If there is one thing this crisis has taught us, it is the importance of business continuity planning. As we emerge from the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a good time for businesses to reinforce, update and or/ establish a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) to protect against the next future potential business disruption, regardless of the nature of that disruption.
By developing or updating your BCP, you will outline the process, steps, teams and resources involved to maintain core business operations during troubling times. Your plan can be simple or complex, depending on the nature, size and breadth of your business and what level of preparedness you want to have.
1. Define scope
Start by deciding which processes are critical and which are desirable. This will help determine the scope of the plan. The types and number of essential processes will drive depth, complexity, time investment and cost.
2. Identify and engage stakeholders
Typically, businesses will develop a planning committee made up of senior leaders, a BCP coordinator, and other key representatives from various parts of the business.
3. Evaluate impact and assess risks
A Business Impact Analysis (BIA) will forecast the potential impact a disruption event may have on the business. This analysis can highlight both short-term and long-term impacts and areas of strength and weakness in the organization. Local risk information can be attained through a Hazard Vulnerability Assessment (HVA) available through the local emergency management agency. With this information, a Risk Assessment (RA) can be done to help identify and prioritize larger and smaller risks.
4. Construct a BCP strategy
The Business Impact Analysis, Hazard Vulnerability Assessment and the Risk Assessment will help shape your Business Continuity Strategy. Some important components of the plan include remote connectivity, alternative site options, interim procedures, systems restoration, business backlog management, communication strategies and the tracking of metrics.
5. Develop a communication plan
A clear communication strategy to all stakeholders including management, staff, vendors, media and the community is critical. A good strategy covers issues such as what medium should be leveraged, who owns the messaging and how to defer inquiries to the right teams to limit miscommunications and inconsistencies.
6. Include details critical to the plan
An appendix section will include key information about key customers, vendors, supplies, forms, websites, reports and any other information that might be needed to support the plan.
7. Testing your plan periodically and train on it
Performing regular walk-throughs with staff improves understanding of the plan directives and identifies areas of weakness that need to be addressed.
8. Revise and update
Staff, business dynamics and objectives change. It is recommended that business have a quarterly review of the plan and a comprehensive review annually.
There are several requirements that experience has taught are essential to success.
All the above points are best practices in devising a strong BCP, which is essential to the long-term health of any business. As you devise your plan, keep in mind that you are not alone. Numerous resources are available to help you along your BCP path. Below we list organizations that can help you as you devise and update your BCP plans.
This writing is provided for informational purposes only. New York Life Insurance Company, its agents, and employees may not provide tax, legal or accounting advice, and none is intended nor should be inferred from the foregoing comments and observations. Clients should consult their own tax, accounting and legal advisors who must form their own independent opinions on these matters based upon independent knowledge and research. © 2020 New York Life Insurance Company. All rights reserved.