As the 2019 novel coronavirus sweeps across the globe, organisations are hurriedly looking for solutions to the disruption that the pandemic is causing. The UK government has requested that employees work from home where possible, while others are being forced out of work due to sickness.
It’s an unprecedented issue, but one that most organisations will have planned for in some way. That’s because the challenges caused by a pandemic are the same as with many other potential disasters, and as such, common resolutions can be found.
For example, businesses across the UK have been quick to roll out work-from-home initiatives for employees, providing them the equipment and freedom they need to get on with their jobs from the safety of their homes.
They were able to do this so promptly because they had a BCP (business continuity plan) in place.
What is a business continuity plan?
A BCP consists of the processes and procedures an organisation needs in order to continue operating during a disaster and recover as quickly as possible. All of this information is put into a document, which is regularly tested, developed and improved on to make sure the organisation is prepared. The BCP is often considered the heart of a BCMS (business continuity management system).
Who should have a business continuity plan?
All organisations, no matter their size, should create a BCP.
Failure to plan could have disastrous consequences for your organisation, potentially resulting in your organisation being unable to recover.
What should a business continuity plan include?
- Purpose and scope
Details of the plan should be provided and any exclusions must be explained.
Persons with authority during and after an incident must be assigned roles.
- Plan invocation
Details of how and when the BCP will be invoked.
- Developing the BCP
Information in the plan must be understood by and accessible to everyone in the organisation.
How, and under which circumstances, the organisation will communicate with employees and their relatives, key interested parties and emergency contacts.
Provide information relating to essential stakeholders, including their contact details.
- Document owner, approver and change history record
The business continuity manager is the owner of the BCP and is responsible for ensuring that the procedure is reviewed and tested regularly.
- Change management
The document must be published in a place that is available to all members of staff, especially those directly involved in the BCP, and in all appropriate formats (digital, hard copy, etc.).
Benefits of a business continuity plan
Creating a BCP will make it easier for your organisation to cope in a crisis and minimise the disruption for you and your customers. It also demonstrates to customers and investors that your business is prepared for anything, thereby gaining their confidence and giving you a competitive edge.
A BCP can also reduce or even avoid the risk of losing revenue if you are hit with a disruption. Returning to business as usual as quickly as possible minimises the time that your organisation is unable to operate and therefore unable to generate revenue.
Organisations that aren’t prepared often appear incompetent. This can damage their reputation and brand image, putting many people off associating with them, which could lead to a loss of customers.
Use our free business continuity plan template
To help you with your BCP, we’ve created a free downloadable template.
This template outlines what should be included in a BCP that has been tailored to your organisation.
If you’re looking for more help creating your BCP, you might be interested in our BCMS Documentation Toolkit.
It contains templates of everything you need to implement a ISO 22301-compliant BCMS, helping you save time and money.
A version of this blog was originally published on 16 November 2018.