Continuity Planning

Lesson 2: Topic 3 of 6

Asking those kinds of questions starts you on the process of Business Continuity Planning. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) characterizes it as “the process of ensuring that your critical business functions are prepared to react to and recover from a business disruption with minimal amount of impact to your business.” You must define ahead of time what level of resilience is necessary. Wikipedia describes this as “the process of creating systems of prevention and recovery to deal with potential threats to a company. In addition to prevention, the goal is to enable ongoing operations before and during execution of disaster recovery. Business continuity is the intended outcome of proper execution of both business continuity planning and disaster recovery.” To underscore the significance of a Business Continuity Plan, FEMA notes that within three years of a disaster, 75 percent of companies without one permanently shut their doors. This contingency planning is well worth the effort!

Whatever industry you’re in, you have customers whose needs will remain unchanged even when your establishment is disrupted. Advance planning on your part will help keep you from losing those customers to a competitor. Paradoxically, not only surviving but thriving in the face of crisis enhances an establishment’s reputation. It demonstrates that a business is resilient and is in the hands of good leadership. 

A true Business Continuity Plan will be comprehensive, addressing things like natural disasters, supply chain failures, data breaches, and more. For the purposes of this course, we are only focusing on the ability to maintain operations when a violent incident occurs. 

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It is essential that the contingency plan be drafted by a multidisciplinary team. Front line staff and those with detailed knowledge of day-to-day business, not just representatives from corporate headquarters, will have valuable insight about how interruptions in processes and in their respective duties will be impacted by a crisis. Several things here must be identified:

  • Essential versus non-essential services provided
  • Scalability (i.e., resuming operations incrementally, by stages, before full operations can resume)
  • Resources and materials that will be needed to resume operations
  • Redundancy of both personnel and equipment (ideally, no one and nothing should be irreplaceable)
  • Amount of insurance coverage needed 
  • Special insurance coverage, such as a “Key Person Policy”