Building your Business Continuity Plan

Best Practices : Article


In the wake of a natural disaster affecting your technology alliance or association, you stand in the midst of the rubble that was once your business and wonder how in the world you will notify everyone and tell them that the organization and office no longer exist. What is going to happen to your members when they call the organization expecting to get help or support and instead receive only a busy signal? Where and how are you going to obtain and restore the years of data and information that were lost, in order to keep the business running? What are you going to do? And where do you begin? How is the organization going to recover from this loss?

The first thing you need to do is to take a deep breath. This hasn’t actually happened to you, at least, not yet; however, there is still a large possibility that it COULD happen, without warning. Here in the Northeast part of Massachusetts, it’s only a matter of time before that dreaded snow arrives!

The second thing you need to do is to get your Business Continuity Plan (BCP) together, so that you aren’t completely paralyzed with fear. In our last article, we provided an explanation and general overview of what is involved in securing your business in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. This article will focus on pulling together the data from your Business Impact Analysis (BIA) in order to create the plan to get your organization into some sort of operating efficiency again, in the least amount of time possible.

Number three on your priority list is forming your Business Continuity Management Team (BCMT). Your BCMT should be composed of, at minimum, the following seniorlevel individuals who will lead their teams and oversee the associated tasks:

  • Facility and Office Management
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Human Resources
  • Legal Counsel or Insurance Policy Management
  • Finance/Accounting
  • Information Technology
  • Members of the Core Business Functions 

These leaders will rally their teams and the rest of the organization in order to get the business operational again. Many people will be performing tasks that are outside their regular areas, so it is imperative that your procedure manuals be complete and up to date. (We will focus on this segment in our next article, as it pertains to our Disaster Recovery (DR) procedures.) 

You have your team, but they don’t yet have their respective responsibilities. Now it is time to outline the steps and requirements that each team is responsible for. Many of these tasks will happen simultaneously when the committee goes into action in an actual emergency, so the more organized you are, the better. And what better way to get organized than to establish a BCM Team outline! 

The outline should be constructed in the following fashion:

  1. Team Function
  2. Leadership & Organization
  3. Preparation Requirements
  4. Action Plan
  5. Recovery Overview 

Each team is required to provide the outline for their respective tasks and responsibilities. Below is a synopsis of what your outlines should include for each section, by team. 

Facility and Office Management will be responsible for the advance selection of alternative working space and activating the designated hot site if the damage to the office space is significant or dangerous enough to warrant the execution of the BCP. This team should also determine, within 24 hours at most, whether or not the existing office space is useable. If recovery and/or restoration of the office space cannot be accomplished within 48 hours, you should consider activating alternative working locations. 

Marketing and Communications will be in charge of notifying the public and any media about operations while the organization is restructuring, as well as notifying members and partners about any alternative communication channels once they are established. Marketing and any Member Relations/Services department should be the hub of all membership contact. 

Human Resources will be responsible for gathering all personnel for allhandsondeck activity, and assisting the members of the core business team in resource allocation and coordination of the teams. Members of HR will also assist in the recovery of any assets and documentation, and will help with any incoming/outgoing phone calls to members, vendors and other relevant personnel, and any workman’s compensation or personal injury claims. Human Resources should work closely with the Facility Management team, as there will be many people asking questions. If HR is able to keep personnel informed and at bay, Facility Management can focus on the restoration. 

Legal and Finance teams will be working closely together and with the rest of the teams. The Finance and Accounting teams should have checkbooks on hand for any payments required to get systems operational: furniture, fixtures, workspace, services, etc. And the Accounting team will be keeping track of all expenses and vendors, either electronically or on paper, to be reentered into the financial system when it returns to operation. In addition, there will be a number of claim forms to complete, insurance adjusters, phone calls, etc. Legal and Finance will be at the center of your business continuity plan, in conjunction with Information Technology. 

The Information Technology team is going to have the largest burden of responsibility for disaster recovery, and they will also need the most assistance during this exercise. However, focusing just on the business continuity portion for your association, the Information Technology team should enumerate all systems, servers and telecommunications and connectivity that the organization uses, for review by the BCM Committee team. These systems and services include email, telephone communications, Internet connectivity, finance software, human resources applications, etc. 

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