What to Do When... Your Business Continuity Plan Has More Tricks Than Treats

Let's face it: Disasters, whether natural or man-made, are scary. Even if your company hasn't personally been spooked by a disaster, you've probably seen the horror that happens to businesses that have.

jack o'lanternSurprisingly, what some businesses fear more than the threat of a disaster is the thought of making a BC/DR plan. Because of this fear, some organizations choose to forgo planning altogether. Others, in a rush to complete their plans, end up with a document that has more tricks than treats. To help you face your fears, we have outlined some ghoulish tricks to avoid in BC/DR planning.

Your Plan Is Not Well Documented

If you have a BC/DR plan that is not properly documented, then you really don’t have a plan at all. Your records should include internal and external contact information, copies of vendor contracts, specifications for all your critical resources and a chain of command to establish who is in charge in the event that the main decision makers are unavailable.

The most crucial part of documentation to include in your BC/DR plan is step-by-step instructions on how to recover your operations. Lastly, your documentation should be printed out and safely stored off-site as well as accessible in the cloud.

Your Plan Is Outdated

An out-of-date BC/DR plan can be more harmful than helpful during a disruption due to its irrelevancy and ineffectiveness. Even a plan that is two or three years old may not reflect the current company environment. Employees, vendors and service providers can often change, and since they are all vital to business continuity, these changes should be updated in your BC/DR plan. Any new system or hardware configurations and new data backup and recovery technologies should be included as well.

To ensure that your BC/DR plan is continuously updated, assign ownership of the plan to an employee who is responsible for making sure that BC/DR planning is an ongoing process.

Your Employees Are Not Aware Of Your Plan

The average employee doesn't consider what affect a disaster would have on day-to-day procedures.  If you haven't informed your employees of your plan, they won't realize that everyone plays a role in the recovery process.

Inform employees about your BC/DR processes and procedures, and include training on what they should do in the event an interruption or disaster prevents them from working. Training should include printed instructions on how to report a business interruption.

Your Plan Does Not Include Employees’ Personal Needs

Disasters don't just affect your business. Employees are suffering from the impact as well. Their initial concerns will be the safety of their loved ones, their homes and themselves. If your recovery rests on one or two key employees being able to report to work as usual, you’re taking a huge risk.

Your business continuity plan should contain provisions for operating with a limited staff and provide employees with instructions for remote access.

Your Plan Has Not Been Sufficiently Tested

According to a survey by InformationWeek, only 40 percent of businesses have tested their BC/DR plan in the last 12 months. Assuming that your plan will work in the event of a disaster or interruption can put your business at risk; you don’t want to find out in the middle of a disaster that you plan is flawed or incomplete.

When testing, you should remove common comforts, such as electricity and communication technology, to give an accurate picture of the chaos a disaster can bring. If you’re using a third party BC/DR vendor, have them on hand to answer the technical questions that you and your employees are sure to have.

Having a successful BC/DR plan doesn’t have to be tricky. To learn more about how to treat your business with an effective plan, check out our Business Continuity Checklist

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