There is an old saying about a chain only being as strong as its weakest link. The same is true for a business, and for many businesses, the weakest link lies in the lack of a business continuity plan. Many businesses have gone from success to failure simply because they didn’t have a plan for what to do in the face of an emergency.
If you run a business, you know that emergencies will occur. They might be in the form of natural disasters such as a tornado or blizzard. You might have a fire or flood. Key personnel may quit, get sick or otherwise be unable to do their jobs for an extended period of time. Any one of these events can turn a smoothly running business into a chaotic mess if there isn’t a plan in place to deal with the emergency.
A business continuity plan goes beyond simple disaster relief. In the case of a major emergency, disaster relief is designed to protect your clients’ needs. Of course, protecting the clients is important to the recovery of the business. Without customer loyalty, the business won’t thrive. Any good business will do their best to provide services to the customer as quickly as possible after an emergency. If the company can’t function, however, the customers’ needs can’t be served. That’s where a continuity plan comes in.
At its heart, a continuity plan is a blueprint for how the company should be run in the face of any disruption to the normal routine. Whether it’s a major disaster like a flood or something as relatively simple as the person in charge of payroll suddenly being out on a medical emergency, a continuity plan lets everyone at the business know what to do when an unforeseen event occurs.
You can think of a continuity plan as a back-up plan times three. It’s the plan that keeps the business going so that it can implement the disaster recovery plan, and it has several levels to ensure that all contingencies are dealt with. To make a good continuity plan, you must first consider what functions must be completed in order for your business to run. You should also consider all the different things that would throw your business off-course, from major disasters to minor annoyances. Your plan should detail who is in charge of each function, who takes over if someone isn’t available and what tasks need to be accomplished to keep the business running during the recovery process. The best continuity plans have back-ups for the back-ups, since it’s impossible to predict the exact nature of an emergency beforehand.
A good continuity plan will keep a business regardless of an emergency. A business that is running is able to keep bringing in money and keep serving its customers, which is crucial to any business’s survival. Having a continuity plan makes the business both stronger and more flexible in dealing with the unplanned events that all businesses will encounter at some point in their history. No business can afford to be without one.
Mercedes Potter is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites. Follow her @CedesPotter.