Creating a Business Continuity Plan

You’ve been hearing for years about how drafting a business continuity plan can keep your business going when an emergency strikes, or when Mother Nature wreaks havoc.  It’s on your “to-do” list, but somehow, it always gets pushed behind some more immediate need.  Frankly, the last thing you need is to read another article telling you why it’s so important. We thought it would be more helpful to give you some simple tips to start pulling your plan together.

Your business is unique, but we’ve identified 8 things that you need to actively incorporate into any business continuity plan:

1. Develop an employee contact list and store it in the cloud.

Be sure to collect all their contact information – telephone number, address and email addresses.

2. Develop a business contacts list…and, you guessed it, store it in the cloud.

Gather key contact information for your vendors, contractors, bankers, lawyers and accountants.

3. Create a master list of key customer contacts:

You will likely need this list of key customer contacts, so you can notify them that your business is functional.  As the owner, you have one set of client contacts on your speed dial, while your employees may have another. It’s really only common sense to create a master list.

4. Establish a list of responsibilities:

Think through a few scenarios and delegate responsibilities to key employees.  Who should send the email to customers about how your organization is handling this situation? Who is your second-in-command, just in case you are out of commission?

5. Create an inventory list of your critical equipment:

Chances are, your business relies on your computer equipment as much as your people.  Ask your IT team to develop a complete list of all computer and networking equipment at each location. You might need this for insurance purposes or to quickly get set up in a new location. Be sure to keep this list in an easily accessible location.

6. Back up and store your critical documents and files in the cloud:

You’ll have a bunch of documents to gather, such as your legal documents, tax information, HR documents, banking information and even your lease papers.

7. Back up and store your client files in the cloud:

You may be sensing a theme.  There are important pieces of information that you will need to be able to access from anywhere, at anytime.  If you and your employees need to work remotely for a period of time, you will need to have access to your client files. On-site storage is not a good option for protecting your data, as you may not have access to your building during a power failure or other event.  Backing up your data in the cloud not only protects your data – it also makes it available from any location that has Internet access.

8. Develop a short list of alternate locations:

If your office is damaged, many employees will try working from home, but that doesn’t work for every business. You and your employees will need to find a new place to work that’s equipped to fit your short-term needs.

This list should serve as a good foundation. If you’re pressed for time (which you might be), another suggestion is to commit to checking off one item per week, so that by the end of eight weeks, you will have these key pieces in place.

If you have any additional tips that you’d like to pass along, we’d love to hear from you.  Be sure to share this article, so your friends and your network can benefit, as well.

 

The U.S. Government Small Business Administration’s website: http://www.sba.gov/content/disaster-planning

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