This article appeared in the October 2019 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
Between severe storms, floods and fires, there are numerous natural disasters that can bring your business operations to a halt. That’s why a business continuity plan is important. It answers the question “how will we continue working if we lose power or access to our business?”
What’s the answer?
While it seems like a simple question, the solution is very involved. There are many day-to-day operations that are easy to overlook. While they’re vital to your business, sometimes it’s difficult to understand their value until they’re gone. To prevent this from occurring, conduct a business impact analysis.
How to take the first step
The first step in a business impact analysis is to identify time-sensitive or critical business functions and processes. The purpose of the analysis is to help business owners prioritize the functions that are most important to day-to-day operations. Consider impacts such as:
- Lost sales and income
- Regulatory fines
- Contractual penalties or loss of contractual bonuses
Business owners may want to enlist help in completing the business impact analysis. Amerisure’s risk management consultants are available to assist with or manage the process.
Appoint a task force
Business owners may not fully realize the extent of an effective business continuity plan. That’s why it’s important to have representatives from every function of the business involved in the creation. In most modern businesses, information technology can be the highest hurdle to clear. This includes networks, desktops, laptops, wireless devices, data and connectivity.
The purpose of the task is to explore all business functions and processes that must be maintained in the instance of a shutdown — whether it’s a multi-hour power outage, a weeklong shutdown or several months out of the office. The questions that should be answered include:
- Where are we going to work?
- How will we communicate?
- How will we continue to operate?
- How will operation resume?
Once you’ve completed the previously mentioned tasks, create a formal document containing the information to share with staff. In the event of an emergency, it’s helpful to work with personnel who already know the plan.
Fine tune over time
Be sure to update the plan when processes change or new systems are added. Practicing your plan also helps identify any gaps, and allows employees to provide feedback. It is recommended that you revisit the plan at least once per year.
Amerisure’s risk management team is able to assist with tools and resources to update your plan on an annual basis. Get safety tools and resources at www.amerisure.com/resources.aspx.
Amerisure is an MMA Premium Associate member and has been an MMA member company since May 1915. Visit online: www.amerisure.com.