Business Continuity Planning (BCP)
We will support clients with their business continuity and disaster recovery efforts by leveraging our BCP skills.
What is business continuity planning?
Business continuity planning (BCP) is a defined approach for the prevention of and recovery from emergencies and incidents in a company. The most crucial element of a business continuity plan is how to protect the health and safety of employees while continuing to provide an acceptable level of service to customers. The priority of a BCP is immediate life safety and wellness for both employees and customers. The second priority is continuing business operations.
Companies employ a BCP in two types of instances: those that pose a threat to safety and those that pose a disruption. These instances vary in size, scope and complexity. A virus or a natural disaster constitutes a threat to safety, while a city-wide power outage constitutes a disruption. For example, a snowstorm may force the early closure of a contact centre to allow for employees to return home safely. In this case, there is minimal impact on employees; however, customers feel the effect of the snowstorm through increased call wait times.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an extreme BCP scenario, where the scope and complexity are enormous, and some considerations are being dealt with for the first time. A strong BCP plan, designed for a pandemic can substantially reduce the impact on employees and customers while creating a sense of control and confidence in a time of uncertainty.
How to build a business continuity plan
Building a BCP involves three main components:
- How to prepare for an incident or emergency
- What to do during a declared BCP incident or emergency
- How to ultimately resume normal operations
One way that companies can prepare for an incident is by developing a work from home strategy well in advance of an event. Preparations could include:
- Provide laptops with a predefined level of security and access (sites, apps, etc.)
- Leverage a secure VPN network to connect remotely
- Deploy audio/video conferencing technology to facilitate collaboration and engagement
- Implement chat capability to enable easily accessible support (from leaders)
- Use document sharing programs, e.g. Google Docs or OneDrive
- Define coaching, training and change management protocols
Applying a business continuity plan can substantially reduces the interruption of service during an incident, emergency or disaster
Elements of a BCP framework explained
Decide which processes can be shortened or eliminated during a business disruption. Identify the top 10 high priority customer transactions that must continue and ensure for each there is a backup plan. If a system is unavailable, ensure that a backup system or a manual process can successfully process the transaction.
Account for all systems used to run the business and facilitate customer transactions. Develop a backup plan for each one, including failover redundancy, such as a backup server. Plan for a substantial increase in VPN capacity to facilitate employees working from home. Safeguard customer data.
Determine which priority channels to triage during a business disruption. Communicate with customers about the benefits of using digital channels, such as faster service on self-serve transactions. Develop contingency plans for employee dependent channels, e.g., phone, chat and email. Create a webpage to answer FAQs and communicate the answers to customers.
Create an evacuation protocol to exit a building. Either rent/buy a “hot” site or develop a work from home plan to redirect employees to continue working. For both scenarios, test the ability for each by facilitating regular testing scenarios.
Deploy 25% of employees at home full time and have another 50% ready to work from home. Develop a rotating schedule, provide laptops, headset, VPN access. Create a work from home readiness plan. Define support requirements, e.g., supervisor, escalation path, communication framework.
Define new roles and responsibilities. With employee efforts primarily focused on customer/client support, redirect priorities, e.g., office roles deploy to frontline support. Create a triage for customer/client escalation handling. If employees are sick, develop back up plans to fill in for key roles.
Create a new set of customer response time standards. For example, if customer phone calls are typically answered in 30 seconds, extend the time to 60 seconds (or whatever makes sense based on the disruption). Do likewise for all customer channels – online, email, chat – to communicate changes.
Deploy plans established under Org Structure. Focus on employees already identified to step into revised or new roles, e.g., frontline employees moving into a supervisory role. Adjust performance expectations and ensure employees are clear on their new mandate.
During a crisis, employee well being is a top priority. As work volumes and staffing shortfalls increase, it places more pressure on employees being able to work (and effectively). Ensure support mechanisms are in place, such as income protection, EAP, supervisory support.
As employees take on redefined roles, have ready-made “just in time” training curriculum available (in person and online). Emphasize critical knowledge and provide effective support measures, e.g. escalation path to get answers, peer mentors. Develop a virtual coaching program for remote employees.
Deploy various methods and approaches for communicating, such as email and video call for internal communication and IVR, social media and chat for external communication. Focus on virtual vehicles. Tone and empathy are crucial during times of crisis. Set up a virtual place (online, IVR) where employees can receive up to date information on the status of the crisis and get answers to questions.
Continue efforts related to employee appreciation and team spirit. Celebrate outstanding employee contributions, provide food and drinks if employees are working on-site, and find a means to make people laugh. Facilitate fun activities while being mindful and sensitive to the crisis.
Establish clear protocols to follow during a business interruption. Identify paths of escalation and key decision-makers.
Establish a team from across the organization to lead BCP execution. Senior leadership needs to be front and centre throughout the disruption, consistently providing specific direction and showing a united front. Employees are looking to their leaders for strength, clarity and guidance.