Business Continuity

Recent research suggests that on average 20% of all organizations will experience some form of unplanned event once every 5 years. When an organization is impacted by a crisis, then their ability to serve the needs of others is compromised. As a resource for communities – business continuity must be maintained enabling stronger companies in times of crisis.

The focus of business continuity in an organization consists of plans and preparations taken which assist in resuming operations and services as quickly as possible after a crisis. Business continuity is dependent on a simple, but effective, plan to minimize damage and speed the resumption of office operations after a crisis.

This information is designed to assist you in planning basic Business Continuity. An emergency plan focuses on people and the prevention of injury and loss of life. A Business Continuity Plan focuses on the organization and those plans and actions that will limit damage and allow you to recover and resume operations more quickly after a crisis.
Business Continuity

Business Continuity: Why a Plan is Necessary

There are many frightening disaster statistics, but lets approach this question in a positive manner:

  • As leaders in the community, businesses should model effective behaviors in crises situations.
  • Cannot offer services for others if business is unprepared.
  • Losses can be minimized and profits improved with planning.

Many businesses depend heavily on technology and automated systems, and the disruption of these systems for even a few days could cause severe problems. Companies maintain a collection of key skills, which reside in selected people, including the operation of certain equipment, inputting or retrieving important data, or managing key processes. If these people are lost for any reason, forward movement on important projects could be severely impacted.

Business continuity can be impacted by events occurring in other locations as well. A hazardous chemical spilled blocks away, may limit access to your building. Lightening striking a transformer on the other side of town, may create a city power failure.

Business continuity must be address potential crises, and a plan to deal with them. In a clear methodical way, planning for business continuity should go through a step-by-step process to identify potential threats, prioritize them, and then assist you in finding ways to deal with each.

Business Continuity Definitions

An emergency is any unplanned event that can cause death or significant injury; or can shut down your organization, disrupt operations, threaten your reputation, or cause physical or environmental damage.

For business continuity purposes, the terms “risk” and “threat” have the same meaning and are interchangeable. They can describe those elements lurking in our environment that are the precursors to emergencies.

Depending on where you look and who is speaking, risks are categorized in several different ways. For the purposes of our discussions, we will break risks into two categories:

  1. Environmental – Severe weather including high winds, tornados, lightening, ice storms, flooding, extreme heat and cold, and other events such as tsunamis, earthquakes, and forest fires.
  2. Man-made intentional acts – Theft, vandalism, cyber attack, workplace violence, bomb threat, terrorism.

Generally speaking, the greatest single threat to businesses in most of the United States is related to severe weather.

Approaches to Business Continuity Planning

There are a variety of approaches to the process of business continuity planning. When completed, no two plans are alike, because no two organizations are alike. In its most advanced form, organizations will hire a consultant to come in and manage the process. This approach can be complex, expensive and lengthy.

Since each organization is unique with their own assets and capacities, there are a variety of approaches to the business continuity process. A simplified and basic form of business continuity planning can benefit many companies. As long as it includes guidance, asks pertinent questions and requires you consider the appropriate information, the end result will be a viable Business Continuity Plan (BCP).