Back in secondary school you most likely learned about inertia. A lot of teachers describe inertia as the simple idea that things in motion tend to stay in motion, and things at rest tend to stay at rest until acted on by an outside force. This principle rings true for other things in life as well.

Whether starting a diet or that big project, the most difficult part is the initial push. For small- and mid-sized enterprises, there are many things owners or CEOs know need to be done, but they aren’t quite sure where to start. One of the most common tasks SMEs neglect is the creation of a Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

Not having a BCP in place can lead to chaos and, as Monash Health found out last month, some negative press. Staff at some of Monash’s emergency centres lost track of which patients were waiting and for what treatment, and they were forced to use a paper-based list after some computer programs went offline. A spokesperson for the healthcare provider said it had a BCP in place, but it obviously wasn’t as effective as it could have been.

It’s hard to predict what disasters lurk around the corner, and for SMEs this can be particularly problematic. The Telstra outage in February that affected a great number of the organisation’s 16.7 million Internet users nationwide showed that SMEs need to be prepared for any type of disruption in service. A lot of companies lost business, and in turn money, by not having a BCP in place to cope with this loss of Internet access.

This is why there is no tomorrow when it comes to initiating your company’s BCP. After all, any number of things that can happen to your organisation between now and then will affect business. So to help lighten your burden, we at Empower IT have compiled seven ways to get your business continuity plan rolling.

1.) Establish who is in charge

A BCP will never get started if no one is in charge of the project. Whether you take it upon yourself or delegate to someone on the management team, one person should be leading the BCP implementation. The creation of the plan will be quite collaborative and require input from all departments, but without someone carrying the torch, it will never get started — let alone finished. Once you have installed someone as the “business continuity manager,” make sure that person understands your company’s pain points and vulnerabilities so he or she can better articulate what your company needs from a managed services provider.

2.) Update emergency contact information

A lot of businesses collect emergency contact details when a person is hired, but they never get around to updating the information. This can be dangerous during emergencies, when clear communications with employees is imperative. A company needs to be able to get in touch with all staff members to keep them updated on what’s happening. That means now is the time to have your employees check and correct their emergency contact details.

3.) Understand the risks facing your organisation

While it is impossible to know what exactly tomorrow will bring, some research into history and other sources can provide clues as to what types of disasters could strike your business. If your operations are located in a flood zone or an area where there is a high risk of fires, preparing for these is key. There are also a few scenarios all companies face, such as a power or Internet outage, that need to be planned for accordingly. Of course, this means you can rule out disasters that are unlikely to happen, like snowstorms.

4.) Bring in help

A lot of SMEs start a BCP only to struggle to figure everything out. Eventually the project is either left incomplete or abandoned entirely. It’s unlikely that you are an expert on BCPs; after all, you would already have one if you were. That’s why you should contact a tech expert who can advise you on how to create the plan, act as a consultant on the project, and coordinate the creation of a feasible BCP. After a thorough assessment of your company, a capable tech consultant will pinpoint the types of disasters your company will need to worry about and how to keep them at bay.

5.) Protect your data

Data is the one thing your organisation cannot afford to lose. Buildings, equipment and hardware can all be replaced, but you won’t be able to operate without your key files and information. When creating a BCP, one of the first things you will want to do is establish backups of your files. By ensuring your files are saved and stored in a secondary location, you can almost guarantee they will be accessible for future use should the original copies be destroyed. This will keep your business operational no matter what type of disaster hits.

6.) Figure out how things will work

When it comes to a BCP, it’s wise to tackle scenarios on a case-by-case basis. Take a key spoke in your operations and remove it. Then find a way to function without that spoke. If you’re a business that delivers goods, remove every aspect of that function. Then establish a way it can be replaced. For instance, if all delivery equipment is wiped out, you’ll need to either rent new vehicles or re-purpose other vehicles in your fleet for a short time to keep moving. Putting plans for this in place now will ensure time isn’t wasted trying to figure it out in the future.

7.) Inform everyone

A BCP only works if your employees know about it and are aware of their duties should disaster strike. A plan that only management knows about can lead to confusion and eventually cause the BCP to fall apart. After all, your employees are the backbone of your organization, and if they’re not well-informed, recovering your business would be a slow, excruciating process. Although your staff probably doesn’t need to know every little detail of the BCP, they should be up to speed on what they need to do and who they need to contact in times of emergency.

Director of Empower IT, Salim Sukari, says, “Creating a business continuity plan isn’t as difficult as it seems. In fact, as long as you have someone experienced there to help, the process is actually quite painless. The most difficult thing for most SME owners and decision-makers is actually starting. Once the ball gets rolling, everything falls into place from there. Most importantly, it ensures a company is able to keep functioning no matter what happens.”

Empower IT is here to help you get your business continuity plan moving in the right direction. Stop procrastinating and contact Empower IT today to get started. Believe it or not, a carefully crafted and well-executed BCP can be the difference between staying in business and being forced to close your doors forever in the wake of a disaster.

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