Due to the rise in regional temperatures and the urban heat island effect, southwestern cities, where more than 90% of the population resides, will face greater risks and expenses related to public health. These challenges will be further compounded by potential disruptions to urban electricity, water supplies, workforce health concerns, supply chain interruptions and even internet connectivity problems. And, while business continuity planning does address those larger more catastrophic events (e.g., decreased water supply reliability, wildfires, threats to agriculture and ecosystems), Arizona organizations need an action plan laying out what to do, even when seemingly smaller but more common disruptions occur.
Planning for Business Continuity
A business continuity plan (BC Plan) is a road map of procedures and strategies to either continue or recover your business when a disruption occurs. It sounds simple enough, but implementing one can feel like a huge undertaking for any organization, especially because there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
A proper BC Plan shifts as the business grows, as the industry changes, and as new challenges arise. BC Plans should be considered less as a standard operating procedure and more as a living, evolving document reflecting the complexity and mission of the business.
Do you think anyone was prepared for the entire global supply chain to shut down because of a pandemic? Absolutely not, but now they are. And the newly identified procedures are now documented in their BC Plans.
Where to Begin
It always helps to do a little research. Get a basic understanding of what a BC Plan, a business impact analysis (BIA) and a risk assessment entails — and the differences between them. These will offer some guidance on answering initial questions like:
- What are the biggest risks to your industry, business or location?
- What areas of the business should the plan include?
- Where should the organization focus first (for example, on developing a business impact analysis or a risk assessment)?
- What organizational resources should be engaged first?
- What additional resources are available to provide the required information/data?
- What day-to-day information is needed to run a successful program?
- How to exercise and validate the plan.
Don’t Start from Scratch
If a current BC Plan hasn’t already been developed, look inside your company for any existing documentation. Publicly traded companies, for instance, must document their risks and vulnerabilities for the SEC within their annual 10k statement. But private organizations can chart a similar course based upon existing plans and previous experience. Essentially, it’s leveraging the data that’s already available.
Take the time to review any previous after-action reports. These summary documents should be created after an incident or outage and identify what went well, but also what needs improvement. Following these few initial steps will help you begin to develop a template for your program.
Building a Legacy
As your organization’s BC Plan becomes more comprehensive, it should be documented in detail and be widely accessible. Training others within the organization on the steps necessary to overcome any disruptions will establish a culture of both preparedness and future success. As business professionals, we need to pass our lessons learned on to the next workforce generation.
The above is just a summary of what a BC Plan is. At BSI, we help organizations of all sizes develop planning that will help them not only survive a changing physical, economic and social environment, but take advantage of those changes.
BSI Consulting is hosting its Connect Summit 2023 in Tempe AZ on April 11-12.
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