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IT system failures, labour shortages, fire, flood—would your company survive a disaster? 43% of businesses faced with a major crisis don’t recover.1 A good business continuity plan will make sure your business can emerge from a crisis relatively unscathed.

Adopting a business continuity plan

Why it’s important to have one

A business continuity plan is designed to minimize the impacts of a major incident on your business operations. It is a formal strategy that is updated regularly1 with input from frontline employees. It’s a framework that provides guidance on how to react in the event of a disaster so that your company’s core activities aren’t affected. You want your business continuity plan up and running within 12 hours of a disaster.

An emergency response plan goes hand in hand with the business continuity plan. It can help your company recover from major incidents like floods or fires, by reducing risks, preventable damage and adverse effects.

The benefits of being well prepared

A business continuity plan will:

  • Protect or help you quickly replace essential items (equipment, documents, merchandise, etc.)
  • Minimize service interruptions and mitigate losses
  • Keep employees and clients safe
  • Safeguard your organization’s reputation
  • Maintain a level of control when faced with a crisis
  • Show clients and employees that you are proactive

5 steps to setting up a plan

1. Take an inventory of your essential services and functions

Identify your critical assets, which could include:

  • Services that, if interrupted, might impact people’s health and safety
  • Services that could bring a business unit’s operations to a standstill if activities aren’t performed within a certain timeframe
  • Services that are essential in order to meet regulatory requirements or avoid breaches of contract.

This exercise will help you zero in on essential services by sector or business unit.

2. Put together an emergency preparedness team

  • Make a list of information about core operations that need to be maintained
  • Meet with teams from all your business units to establish emergency business continuity measures
  • Create detailed contingency plans for each function or essential service
  • Assign one person (manager or employee) in charge of each business unit
  • Stay in touch with key employees at all times so they can stay on top of the situation, assess what is needed and help roll out the business continuity plan

3. Analyse the impacts of service interruptions

Identify how a service interruption would affect your operations (potential income loss, additional expenses, etc.) to get an idea of how long your company could survive if certain services were shut down.

4. Put steps into place to ensure business continuity

  • Plan to move activities offsite
  • Arrange to free up emergency cash as quickly as possible
  • Make sure you have backups for essential equipment/materials
  • Set up mechanisms to contact clients to reassure them that in spite of the incident, operations will continue
  • Draw up a list of suppliers and contractors that can provide emergency supplies to help keep operations going
  • Store backup copies of key information offsite

5. Test, review and update your plan

  • Test your business continuity plan to make sure it works properly and identify areas that need improvement
  • Keep it up to date and review it regularly to be sure you can roll it out quickly in the event of a disaster

Conclusion

A business continuity plan can help protect your business assets and keep them in optimal condition. Remember to review your insurance coverage each year to make sure you have the protection you need in the event of a disaster.


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In collaboration with
WILFRID TANGUAY INC., Risk Control Services

L’information contenue dans cette capsule est d’ordre général et est fournie à titre informatif seulement. Elle n’est pas exhaustive. Toute mesure prise à la suite de la lecture de cette capsule doit être exécutée en toute sécurité et, au besoin, par une personne expérimentée et habilitée à le faire.

Sources:

1 Développement économique, Innovation, Exportation Québec, Guide en gestion de la continuité des opérations (in French only).

BDC, 8 steps for planning your emergency and disaster plan.

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