Hindsight is 20/20…
A phrase that resonates now more than ever. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations who lacked a well-thought out business continuity plan found themselves struggling to survive. While the challenges that surfaced were unprecedented, many could have been mitigated had a strong response plan been in place.
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
A business continuity plan is a formal document that outlines protocols for how a business will prevent, respond, and recover from a business disruption caused by an emergency.
These emergencies include both natural and human disasters like extreme weather events, technology and/or power outages, cybersecurity and/or privacy breaches, and one that few anticipated, a pandemic.
The challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic ran the gamut, including:
- Addressing high absenteeism caused by employees who were quarantined, sick, or caring for a family member
- Deciding whether to lay off or reduce workforce
- Accommodating remote and displaced workers
- Understanding complex legislation
- Determining how to benefit from financial assistance
- Coordinating plans for return to normalcy
- Ensuring a safe working environment for workers’ return to the office
A comprehensive business continuity plan addresses the unknown and unpredictable, and provides guidance for responding to challenges as they arise.
Here are three steps for creating one:
Assemble a Business Response Team
Identify the people who understand your core business, and who are capable of making decisions that are in the best interest of the company. This should include your leadership team, board of directors, and senior leaders from key departments such as operations, finance, legal, human resources, accounting, and information technology.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, businesses without a full-time HR professional were at a disadvantage when it came to navigating the new complex laws, as were businesses without dedicated IT support when it came to accommodating the technological demands of a remote workforce.
If your organization doesn’t employ a full-time representative within these areas, identify an outside consultant that can assist.
Assess Risks and Potential Impact
Risk assessment involves identifying potential threats that could impact your organization. Your geographical location plays a role in assessing vulnerability from natural disasters and weather-related events like earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes, and flooding.
Your physical place of business is a factor too. Older buildings are at a greater risk of structural damage, while having all your employees work from one location puts you at greater risk should that location become inaccessible.
While no company is immune, the nature of your business will determine if you are at greater risk for data and cybersecurity breaches.
When it comes to supply chains, companies who rely on many suppliers are less at risk than companies who depend on one, should something happen to that sole supplier.
Once risks have been identified, determine the potential impact they could have on your daily operations. Visualize the scenarios and begin to prioritize your organization’s key functions.
Craft a Strategy
The final step is to determine your plan of action. It should include three sections:
Detail the actions your business needs to take to ward off disaster. This includes preventative measures like cross-training teams, backing up critical data, and establishing evacuation procedures.
Specify what immediate actions need to be taken in the event of an emergency. This should detail the role each member of your business response plan will play, and how the business plan will be communicated to employees and customers.
Once the disaster has been contained, your focus should be on recovery. This part of the strategy focuses on the actions that need to take place to get your business up and running again as quickly as possible.
Make Balance Point Part of Your Plan
Balance Point provides technology and services to enhance your business continuity plan.
Secure, cloud-based HCM technology helps you manage every aspect of the employee life cycle–hire, track time, compensate, train, and engage your team–at any time, from anywhere, even while working from home.
HR support helps you navigate new legislation, address employee concerns, assist with terminations and hires, and create a handbook to document necessary policies to ensure compliance and mitigate risk.