Use Holiday Down Time to Create a Business Continuity Plan

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

Seven Tips to Minimize Communications Downtime During Natural Disasters

Many folks take the days between Christmas and New Year’s off. Others, of course, have to work, despite the consumption of too much egg nog.

If you do have to work, it makes sense to be as productive as possible. This year, keep in mind that the late fall has been characterized by winter-like weather. It is not a good sign that suddenly the people who are in charge of this sort of thing have decided to name the storms that seem to be meandering from west to east on a regular basis.

So why not focus on a business continuity plan? These templates are vital, and may come in handy very quickly.


RealBusiness UK offers six steps to setting up what it refers to as “a contingency plan.” The first is aimed squarely at the crisis itself: It focuses on evacuation procedures, the availability of building documents and key information for first responders and similar items. The other steps are aimed at recovery. They include business assessment, impact analysis, forward planning and ongoing management. The story offers a common sense look at each of these elements.

CIO offers more advice on business continuity planning. It begins by making the point that business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) plans are two different things. A DR plan, according to Ed Tittel and Kim Lindros, focuses on getting the company back on its feet from an IT perspective. It is part of a larger BC plan.

The piece links to a number of free BC planning templates and highlights six key elements: Companies need to identify the scope of the plan, its key business areas, the critical functions and the dependencies between different business areas and functions. An acceptable amount of downtime for each critical function must be determined and a plan created based on those variables.

The piece offers advice on testing the plan and getting it approved. An important element of such a plan is promoting it internally. Getting buy-in from high-level executives is key:

Management is also key to promoting user awareness. If employees don't know about the plan, how will they be able to react appropriately when every minute counts? Although plan distribution and training can be conducted by business unit managers or HR staff, have someone from the top kick off training and punctuate its significance. It'll have a greater impact on all employees, giving the plan more credibility and urgency.

These steps are part of the due-diligence that is important for any BC plan. As time passes, however, new technologies or updated procedures should be considered by planning managers. Last month, Continuity Central highlighted what it considers the top 10 issues in BC.

They include the ability to change as conditions change after a disruption, the need to keep at least three copies of the plan in geographically disperse places (perhaps including one in the cloud), the importance of emergency mass notification software, developing methods of precisely delivering information, and the need to be aware of and combat workplace violence.

The commentary, which was written by the firm Xmatters, also suggests finding ways to test the BC and/or crisis management plan and advises organizations to recognize the importance of social media to keep current with new risks. Organizations should promote integrated public/private partnerships for crisis response and take advantage of them when such events occur.



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