If you answered NO to the above question, you are not alone and you are one of the many businesses that do not have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). In addition, think about including an easy step-by-step plan of action that will help the business quickly restore its activities in order of importance and within the required timelines. Another important element you might want to consider is where you store your back-up files. Determining the channel of communications to be used under such circumstances (personal phones, pagers and emails) etc. And remember, these are just few examples of the things you need to consider when planning a BCP. If you are seriously considering the development of BCP, you will want to ensure that all your business elements and processes are included in the BCP.
You might also think that you will not be able to engage in this daunting task by yourself. Business Continuity Planning is the one of the four commonly linked components of an organization's risk management strategy. This paper will take a look at Business Continuity Planning from a unique perspective: the end. Business Continuity Planning joins with Emergency Response, Crisis Management and Disaster Recovery Planning [see Figure 1] to create a comprehensive process for recovering from unexpected events that threaten stability or even the future existence of an organization. The root of a sound business continuity plan lies in the ability to quickly and accurately determine the most important business functions. Either of these incorrect extremes can be explained, but can cripple the development of a Business Continuity Plan if it isn't corrected early on in the process.
Although not an exact science, typical business functions can be tied to one or more roles they play in defining a predictable operational process, and subsequently, the effect they can have on the business' success when these functions are lost or operating below par. The impact of a loss or delay in completing a business function typically changes over time. Extending the RTO by creating alternate workaround processes or by offering other mitigating factors (e.g.
Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) are similar to Recovery Time Objectives except that they represent the tolerance for lost data once the process has been recovered or restored. Technology has advanced to the point where critical data files can be maintained and synchronized in more than one location, enabling a potential RPO of zero to be achieved.
The risk of loss of critical facilities can be mitigated, but generally at very high costs. Some Business Continuity Planning projects start by listing every possible scenario, from rainstorms to global thermo-nuclear war.
In an overall enterprise strategy, the most common mitigation technique is to identify and prepare alternate sites for all critical elements.
One of the most overlooked aspects of successful Business Continuity Planning is the potential loss of key decision makers during the response and recovery time when their abilities are most crucial. As a checkpoint in the Business Continuity Plan, select an alternate for each critical staff position, who is asked periodically to perform response and recovery functions in place of the incumbent during planned tests. Interestingly, a good succession planning policy has an added benefit in that it gives employees a clearer way to manage their career advancement, resulting in more favorable employee turnover and improved productivity.
Finally, it's not unusual to spend considerably more time planning a Disaster Recovery test that doesn't create an interruption than running the test itself.
Product quality and information privacy regulations make the task of identifying alternate suppliers more challenging.
Purchasing Departments have traditionally been able to identify sources of materials, but will always need additional support in finding alternate suppliers of technical processes and business services. Remember also that shortages of common resources can affect many companies in the same industry. Recently, pandemic response planning has taken its place in Business Continuity Planning, both from an employee absence perspective and one that represents a dramatic alteration in public behavior (e.g. Many situations less severe than a widespread disease pandemic can be effectively built into Business Continuity Plans. Recent experiences with regional disasters such as floods and hurricanes have also resulted in more refined plans to assure that family members and household stability can be assured before employees can be productive. The best Business Continuity Plans are ones that can be initiated very early before the interruption has progressed to the point of a crisis. Many computer incidents such as failing components, hacking attempts or infection by computer viruses can be recognized by intrusion detection and operations management tools. Many effective techniques exist for building a resilient facility that can provide risk remediation, especially for computer and communications capabilities.
The most effective Business Continuity plans have sound alternative procedures and process recovery instructions included in the project documentation. Technology can be used to effectively create a domain structure that enhances the ability to consolidate resources with similar requirements for Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability.
Most business units cannot justify the expense associated with providing a continuous availability strategy, rigorous monitoring or enabling strong authentication techniques.
Damage assessment and recovery planning can frequently be streamlined if the resources most sensitive to delay or disruption can be quickly identified, salvaged and restored. Business Continuity Planning is not exclusively for the restoration of processes after a disaster or disruptive event. One way to do this is to develop a strategy that establishes external services to provide an expandable production capacity. Editor's note: The attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, vividly demonstrated that business losses from disasters are not limited to buildings and inventory. Figure 1: This model takes into account not only proximity to key employees but also proximity to major roads and existing customers when determining meeting points.
The Business Continuity Institute defines a BCP as a "holistic management process that identifies potential impacts that threaten an organization and provides a framework for building resilience with the capacity for an effective response that safeguards the interests of key stakeholders, reputation, brand, and value creating activities." Having a BCP in place enables a business to mitigate risks that disruptions pose in such areas as health and safety liability, loss of productivity from downtime, loss of work to competitors, failures within the supply chain, and higher insurance rates. BCPs have many geographic aspects, and GIS has been recognized as a powerful tool for developing effective BCPs. GIS is particularly well suited to BCP applications because of its inherent ability to integrate disparate data sources. ArcGIS 9 introduces a new geoprocessing framework that lets users capture work flows and automate common tasks. Relocation analysis is similar to a familiar and commonly used task in GIS: site selection. An organisation's planning and risk management aims to assure business continuity that will overcome overcome business interruptions that result from the impact of crises on people, property, information, or the environment.
In the event that the organisation fails to avert a crisis, effective planning can minimise legal liabilities, reduce the loss of public confidence or diminish a fall in market share. In an organisation in which critical business functions can simply be performed from alternative sites for acceptable periods of time, the Crisis Team may simply develop and implement Business Continuity crisis strategy appropriate to the situation.
If critical functions cannot be performed from other locations, it may be necessary for the organisation to document its key processes in a Business Continuity plan by conducting a Business Impact Analysis (BIA).

Managers who are responsible for documenting key processes must be wary of any organisational fixation with detail that may lead to obsolescent or cumbersome plans. Our approach is to assess the contribution of the main activities in a business to shareholder value. We focus on interim operations and immediate resumption rather than long tern restoration and recovery. ET and not just IT; we include alternate sites and step up arrangements in addition to hot sites for data.
Guarantee Crisis Leadership to Truscott and receive up to 15% savings in insurance premiums from OAMPS. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan for small businesses need effectual strategies to deal with and to recover from disrupting occurrences.
It is apparent that disasters such as earthquake, floods, hurricanes and several other disasters inflict thousands of businesses to suffer heavy losses and many of them even get locked. As an owner of a small business, it becomes unavoidable to protect critical units of your organization, including your IT server room, power utilities, and highly expensive and heavy equipments including employees and customers from injury within your business premises in an event of disaster.
Our BCP & DRP packages comprise of templates, forms, checklist, guide, policies, standards and samples. Even companies that have a BCP, do not periodically update it or verify its accuracy, leading to an outdated and ineffective plan. For example, think about the first thing you would do, if your main office becomes unusable for whatever reason. If these are stored off site, which is highly recommended, a step-by-step procedure detailing how the data will be restored is required.
Over many years of Business Continuity Plan development, I've come to recognize twelve telltale signs that often foretell the fate of the business continuity planning effort. Business Continuity is often the most crucial element in determining whether an organization can survive a major disruption over the long run. Well, after being very thoughtfully prepared, providing the appropriate documentation and following up with periodic tests and exercises of the plan in a controlled environment, I've seen twelve attributes that tilt the scale toward a successful restoration of business operations as quickly and as effectively as possible. To be effective, the inventory of all critical business functions (both manual and automated) must be created in advance and be accurate.
I've seen an exhaustive list of applications that have been deemed by their owners as "critical" in which everything is a #1 priority (most often this is the result of department heads jockeying for position and the designation of "most important") or nothing is important at all (often this occurs when identifying critical applications would result in substantial work to develop the BCP, so to save time and effort, nothing is critical). Each application must be evaluated for business impact if it were delayed or if it failed, and an appropriate priority assigned. This may be a direct financial loss, such as failure to ship a finished product, or inability to create a bill for services rendered. Usually we find that most business functions do not result in a significant brand image or product creation immediately, even though the effect on product quality, regulatory compliance or direct revenue can be immediate.
For most computer applications that require data entry, archiving the source documents for re-entry will support full data recovery however the source documents may be lost or destroyed along with the computer files. Successful Risk Management methods strive to achieve a risk mitigation strategy that it proportionate to the potential for loss. By the time all these scenarios are listed, with all the possible effects on every item and building in the organization, what you end up with is very close to an infinite-by-infinite matrix to solve for the most likely events. In selecting alternate facilities or sites, failover plans should be tested regularly and temporary assignment of key staff members should be included in the test plan.
If you want to see the impact of key decision makers in a Business Continuity Plan, try running a recovery test without certain key roles. This should become a documented element in all job descriptions and performance review standards. With the cost of replacing and retraining good employees, this simple process can be turned into money in the bank! Called the "No-Plan Plan," it prescribed that every day should be a Disaster Recovery exercise.
This is particularly true in industries like food, cosmetics, toys and pharmaceuticals, where regulatory demands impose consistency and quality expectations. Recent efforts have been fruitful in building supply chain resources in collaboration with other organizations, even competitors. Well-trained and practiced employees are the first line of defense in identifying situations that could become serious.
These components are often included in technology operations strategies, but they must be run and monitored to be effective. There may be similar advance warnings for critical supplies, short term financing, and business partner relations. Operational sync-points and offline versions of key data files can more easily be accommodated at the onset of the project. This capacity is often cost prohibitive in existing facilities, but over time, as plants are expanded, upgraded or acquired, these modifications can be made with minimal increased cost. Training then includes not just regular operation, but alternatives when critical resources are unavailable.
Technical infrastructure and advanced processes can be applied at the domain group level, saving considerable costs and substantially reducing complexity. When several business units share the benefits and costs however, the expense can be more easily justified.
Potential lost revenue is generally reduced when critical business operations are restored more quickly. Successfully executing an effective plan can also provide considerable benefits including increased market share.
A process or technology that is unable to meet dramatic unexpected demand can result in an ultimate loss of customer satisfaction and actually reduce your market share, even in a rapidly expanding market sector. If these suppliers are used for a portion of the normal production, the process is already in place.
Losses attributed to business interruptions produced by disasters are significant and can be long lasting.
Disruptions can be caused by power outages, internal flooding, weather events, fire, terrorism, crime, or transportation problems. Because a fundamental part of creating a BCP is determining the location of a company's assets, even the most basic GIS application adds value to a standard BCP. Using GIS to model what-if scenarios can capture the infrastructure, business processes, and locations of an organization in a meaningful way.
It also provides a new geoprocessing toolset that contains statistical tools specially designed to work with spatial data.
In some industries, such as financial services, specific rules govern what must be included in a BCP.
However, BCP analysts incorporate factors not usually considered in traditional site selection applications such as identifying the locations of the company's most critical employees from a day-to-day operations perspective and determining a temporary operations site that is accessible and optimal in relation to these employees.
Given the enormous impact of such crises, the development of early warning systems is essential.

A well-defined Business Continuity plan may expedite the recovery of critical business operations.
Key processes are those which must be replicated in some manner in case they are physically lost or cease to function. By estimating how those contributions might be diminished if the activities were interrupted, the Recovery Time Objectives are determined and strategies devised that allow each activity to recover and continue in the sequence of descending urgency. In the same binder, you can include vital business information, such as a copy of the phone bill showing the company phone numbers and a copy of the company’s insurance policy. It would most likely be to forward you company’s phone and fax lines to an alternate number so that communication with your clients and vendors is not disrupted and is immediately restored. A sound business recovery process involves the coordinated efforts of different aspects of Information Technology (IT) and Information Management (IM). Let's look at the role of Business Continuity Planning within risk management and these twelve indicators of success. These attributes do not necessarily mean the plan will be a success, nor do they indicate that failing to demonstrate them foretells failure. This inventory needs to include factors that can change an item's priority, such as a cash management application that is extra important just before scheduled large payments like payroll or acquired inventory payments are processed.
A temporary workaround can often be used for some period of time before the effect is actually felt, but in almost all business functions, that temporary fix can only be continued for a short time before it becomes cumbersome at best and totally ineffective. Effective file and document archive procedures can help prevent losing these critical transaction records entirely. There have been numerous attempts at detailing the steps required for a thorough risk assessment strategy.
It is much easier to look at the four key elements of People, Process, Plan and Technology and to ignore the event that can cause a disruption, but instead look at the effect on those elements in only two categories: Total Loss and Significant Reduction in functionality. A professional athlete doesn't stop practicing when the contract is signed (with some notable exceptions). Approval of alternate suppliers or alternate processors can require months by the approval agencies, and production may be limited or unavailable while this approval is obtained. In one instance, a company whose offices were located in an urban skyscraper were informed that another tenant in the building had an employee who unknowingly came to the office with a contagious case of the measles.
Part of the plan is to teach employees to recognize the signs of an impending disruption in normal activity. Like the old joke about the two guys in the jungle trying to outrun the tiger, Business Continuity Planning is the ability to respond more quickly and more successfully than competitors to gain a competitive advantage. For example, transportation costs, technology changes or imminent weather conditions can cause a dramatic increase in demand.
According to Risk Management Solutions, the cost of business interruption for the World Trade Center attacks represents 25 percent of the total losses, estimated at between $35 billion and $70 billion. Simply geocoding assets lets BCP analysts evaluate assets in relation to potential disruptions in ways that are not possible with text or tabular representations of the same data. Through GIS-based dashboard type applications, managers can quickly obtain a high-level overview of a situation and understand what needs to be done to reestablish critical business functions in the event of a disruption. With these tools, analysts can compare features and geographic distributions and can model geographic relationships that will help develop more effective BCPs. For instance, the New York Stock Exchange Rule 446 mandates that companies must have a written plan, updated annually, for relocating operations in the event of an emergency.
Such indicators allow the organisation to anticipate potential crises, enabling the senior management to act to preclude the development of a crisis. This loss of process or process functionality may occur as the result of the absence of key personnel, or the loss of crucial corporate experience or assets. It is important that your consultation with any IT expert ensures your BCP is not only sound and viable, but also largely based on your BCP goals.
Frequently all four are combined into an overall process, which is good, but then handed off to a single person, or a small team of people who are charged with trying to satisfy the basic requirements of all of them in one fell swoop. There are always humans going an extra step beyond their expectations, good (or bad) luck, timing and a whole host of factors that cannot be measured. That point in time when the process must be restored is called the Recovery Time Objective (RTO).
That transforms the target of the risk assessment from an infinite by infinite matrix by a much simpler four by two matrix. The obvious scenario is that these people were casualties of the event, but to offset a morbid test environment, try declaring that these or other key positions are "on their honeymoon" or "sick with the flu" or "having a baby." Then put the alternate in charge of that function and invite the "missing" incumbent to observe the decision making, but forbid them from participating or providing direction. All data files and programs were stored on tape (primarily to offset the high cost of disk storage at that time), and every critical computer system started with a step that restored the programs and data from the tape to the disk, followed by execution of the application, and concluded with the creation of a new tape for use in the next scheduled processing. All tenants were notified that they could expose pregnant employees or family members of employees who rode in the same elevator bank to this disease. Of all the companies I've worked with over the years, pretty much all of them have been able to recover from a disruptive event. Thorough Business Continuity Plans often include these dramatic increases in demand as well as loss of functions. Relocation and evacuation meeting points are two of many analyses needed when formulating BCPs. Consequently, part of relocation analysis should also address potential threats such as proximity to terrorism targets.
To setup an IT consultation about developing and deploying your BCP, please give us a call and we’ll be happy to assist you.
But good business continuity planning is all about eliminating or reducing the dependency on these random coincidences. At arranged times of the day, or the month, or in the production cycle, try to decide how to stack the cards. When connected to the revenue streams the RTO represents the maximum time that the facility, person, process or technology is unavailable or delayed until revenue is seriously impacted. Coincidentally, it was an excellent technology recovery plan in that it could be easily transported to any of a couple dozen nearby data centers that had compatible computers, and run completely with minimal disruption of the new host. As a result, alternate plans were drawn up so that employees concerned about this exposure could continue to work without physically coming to the office.
All are important and each one has a specific critical role to play in resolving serious disruptions, but each one is a complex process and can require more effort than a single person or small group of people can accomplish.
If risk management efforts start at the lowest level of detail, chances are pretty good that before all the details have been tallied, the cost factors will have changed. All of them also could have recovered more quickly and more easily if they had done something just a bit differently.
As shown in the graphic, being prepared gives you the advantage of getting "back in business" sooner than your competitors.

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Rubric: Emergency Preparedness Survival


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