You don’t expect your home to burn down. However, you buy insurance to be prepared for the worst.
Similarly, you don’t expect uncontrollable events to disrupt the operation of your business. But if they do, a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) can be the insurance you need to stay afloat during dire circumstances.
This BMO Bank of Montreal® guide (140 KB - PDF) is designed to provide you with general information about creating a customized BCP. This guide will illustrate examples of what businesses typically consider in trying to determine the kind of unexpected events that can impact a business and how they plan to minimize potential disruption and damage.
It can happen
As anyone who reads the newspaper or watches news on TV knows, catastrophic events occur continually throughout Canada. While most of us are only touched by them from time to time—an ice storm or electrical blackout—some are struck by the full force of unexpected events with devastating consequences.
The goal is not to panic; simply be prepared.
For example, H1N1 Virus has been in the headlines with many experts predicting a pandemic. If this occurs, you may need to operate your business with 30% to 50% fewer employees for a long period of time. Management may be disrupted. Your suppliers and customers may be affected. There may be restrictions on travel.
If your business is caught off guard, operating at close to normal may be difficult. However, with a BCP, your staff may be well prepared to carry on effectively in a difficult situation.
For example, should a disaster such as an H1N1 Virus pandemic strike, with a thorough BCP in place:
- priority services and operations will have been established
- staff will have been trained to handle the jobs of co-workers out sick
- guidelines will exist to minimize face-to-face contact and maintain hygiene i.e., hand shaking, seating in meetings, providing masks
- policies for flexible hours and alternative compensation will have been established
- a list of alternate suppliers will be available
- countless other contingencies that apply specifically to your company will have been considered and planned for
- your employees will have read your BCP and will be ready to take appropriate action.
Identifying Potential Threats
Your BCP starts by recognizing the potential threats that could impact your business.
Assess the Risks
Risk, in this case, is defined as the sum of probability of occurrence plus the impact on your business.
Set Your Business Priorities
When an unexpected event occurs, employees must know which business functions are crucial.
Analyze the Impact of a Business Disruption
To be prepared for a crisis, it’s important to recognize the likely impact on your business.
Create an Action Strategy
Clearly outline the steps that need to be taken to maintain your services /functions.
Implement Your Action Strategy
Ensure your Action Strategy will work through training and testing.
Maintain Your Business Continuity Plan
Your BCP should evolve over time as your business changes or expands.