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.

When should you use a BCP?

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.

Business continuity planning represented by a hand holding wooden domino

How to build a business continuity plan

Building a BCP involves three main components:

  1. How to prepare for an incident or emergency
  2. What to do during a declared BCP incident or emergency
  3. 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 reduce the interruption of service during an incident, emergency or disaster.

Want to develop a business continuity plan and don’t know where to start?