Emergency Readiness 

Prepare your business for possible disruptions with a business continuity plan

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. 


Headshot of Bob Patience.

Bob Patience
VP, Business Solutions

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.

Here is each step to help you develop your own plan and be prepared to manage any future disruption of business:

Business Continuity Plan

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.  

Keys to success in BCP planning and execution

There are several requirements that experience has taught are essential to success. 

  • Maintain your focus on a BCP and emphasize its importance to your stakeholders and staff.  The COVID-19 pandemic is an extreme case of business interruption.  However, business interruptions like utility failures, weather events and systems breakdowns are much more common. Being ready for a disruption event, even a minor one can make a big difference in retaining staff, customers and even survival of the business.

  • Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the goodSome planning is better than none.  Businesses with no plan can be devastated by even a relatively minor disruption event. Establishing a base level plan is a great first step and can be improved upon over time.  It is always better to have some level of planning versus no planning at all.

  • Leverage all available resources.  The development of a BCP is a collaborative process that will involve key people from within and outside of the organization.  Attorneys, insurance agents, accountants, local business associations, online vendors and government emergency groups can all assist.

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. 

Helpful organizations

  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA): Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity /Continuity of Operations Programs (www.nfpa.org)
  • DRI International:  Professional Practices for Business Continuity Management (www.drii.org)
  • Federal Emergency Management Organization (FEMA): Continuity guidance for Non-Federal Entities (www.fema.gov)
  • Insurance Institute for Business Home and Safety: Open for business continuity toolkit (www.disastersafety.org)
  • Business Continuity Templates: (www.smartsheets.com)
  • American Red Cross: developing your emergency action plan (www.readyrating.org

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.