Alinity logo

When Disaster Strikes…Business Continuity!

What is Business Continuity?

What happens to your association once disaster strikes? Don’t be sad! Hopefully, you have a business continuity plan! If not, you’ve come to the right place!

Business continuity is when you have a plan or process to continue operating after some type of disaster. Disasters could be anything from natural disasters, theft, errors, loss of a building, loss or illness, system failure, and way more (unfortunately). They can also happen anytime…tomorrow, next week, next year, even right now. If you don’t have a plan, it’s time to make one for your association’s best interest.

Disasters can even not directly affect you, but affect your clients ability to recieve your services. Maybe you can provide them with a plan B to get their jobs done.

The great thing is that you can be prepared for these situations! A business should always be prepared for short-term and long-term recovery because you never know how long you could be out of your regular routine. A business continuity plan is also great for reducing the amount of damage or limitations that can be caused from a disaster.

For example, say a tornado destroyed your whole building and all your equipment (computers, laptops, etc.). Things you will have to consider are who needs to be there to get the jobs done? Where will you relocate temporarily? Do you have an emergency budget to buy some new computers? Do you have all your data backed up in a cloud or another location so you can download it continue working? Do you have the ability to reach important contacts to tell them what’s going on?

Making A Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

According to Public Safety Canada, your plan should have 5 sections:

  1. BCP Governance (the commitee of managers and employees who will be planning, testing, and implementing the plan)
  2. Business Impact Analysis (identifying essential services/products, ranking them in order for priotization of continuity, and identification of internal/external impacts of disruption)
  3. Plans for business continuity (process of the measures needed to recover)
  4. Readiness Procedures (doing training and exercises, as well as testing the BCP to make sure it works)
  5. Quality Assurance Techniques (keeping the BCP updated, relevant, and effective)

The first two sections in the BCP involves identifying all the key components of your organization. These are all the people, skills, equipment, vendors, and tools you want to reach or use immediately in wake of a disaster. Below are some factors you should be considering as essential to your association:

  • Choose a key person, or a team of key people, that collectively understand all of the processes and operations of the organization. Find out who in the company is able to conduct business remotely. These are people you should also consider to be on the backup team.
  • Identify the key services and functions of your organizations. These are the operations you want to keep running especially after disaster, so that you don’t lose any clients or affect any members.
  • Identify your essential vendors and contacts that keep you running smoothly.
  • Identify the requirements for running these services (tools, skills, and staff).
  • Identify the physical equipment you need to provide services to your clients.

Next, identify the possible disasters that can affect your association. You’re going to want to create a plan or plans that will recover any disaster that may come your way. A great way to brainstorm is to look for any disasters that have previously happened in your location, as well as research disasters that have affected organizations such as yours in the past. All types of threats should be considered, even low probability ones.

Possible disasters include:

  • Natural disaster (floods, tornado, earthquake, etc.)
  • Theft or vandalism
  • Human errors
  • Loss of a building (ex. fire damage)
  • Death or illness of an essential person in the company
  • Contageous sickness affecting large number of employees
  • System failure
  • Terrorism
  • Privacy breach
  • Supply chain interuptions

Figure out how the possible disasters can impact your association and your plan should be able to restore or minimize any effects. By thinking of hypothetical situations, you can more specifically think about how, where, and who the disaster affects in your organization and make sure all those areas are covered in your plan.

After creating your BCPs, test them! There’s no point in keeping a plan that doesn’t work and prolongs getting back into business. If you notice any steps that are a little rough, smooth them out, it’ll be worth the effort when it’s needed.

Make sure to keep your plans in a secure location that will not get destroyed during any disaster or store them in multiple locations. Possibilities are an off-location safe, stored in a cloud, or preferably both.

Last but not least, keep UPDATING your BCPs. Make sure your plans stay RELEVANT. They will be of no use if they aren’t updated to the technology you are currently using.

Cloud Computing and Continuity

With the cloud being a separate vendor storing your data, hopefully encrypted and with geographic redundancy, you should be able to recover your operations immediately, with the acquisition of some new equipment that may have been destroyed (computer, laptop, smartphone, etc.).