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If The Worst Hits, Is Your Company Prepared?

16/06/2009


A Business Continuity Plan Can Help 

Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is a field of work involving pre-planning for business disruptions and disaster-related events. A company undertakes the BCP process to mitigate the possible risks to their business if an unplanned interruption occurs.

In 2001, continuity planning became widely adopted due to the attacks in New York City. Businesses were suddenly confronted with the notion that their entire operation could be severely compromised in an instant. A terrorist attack is certainly an unlikely event, but it helped catalyze the need for a BCP and sped up the timeframe for implementation.

Echoes from this “worst case” have been gathering interest since 2001. These include planning for small disruptions such as office fires, loss of paper and digital records, personnel loss (permanent or temporary), and power outages. The industry as a whole has experienced tremendous growth because the need for BCP products has entered into corporate mentality.

Disruptions happen more often than one may realize:

  • In August 2003, a widespread loss of power in Ontario and the Northeastern U.S. caused a shutdown of all non-essential services.
  • From 2003-2005, an outbreak of the SARS virus interrupted many businesses around the world, including some in Canada.
  • A cable fire in downtown Vancouver in July 2008 caused a day-long shutdown of affected office buildings.


Not all businesses have embraced the idea of business continuity. A prevailing stigma associated with it is that “a BCP is another form of insurance, and our company already has an insurance policy”. Companies have trouble understanding the inherent need for even a small-scope plan that covers their most critical systems.

To clarify, a BCP is not an insurance product in a classical-form. A BCP is a pre-developed and approved set of instructions or procedures that speed up the recovery of critical processes. The question a company must ask is: “What would happen to my customer base/finances/reputation if there were a long disruption in my business?”

The essential message is that a Business Continuity Plan is a product that a company should have in place as a tool for the mitigation of risk in case their business is disrupted.

All companies are not created equal, and a BCP is no different. Each plan is fully customized to work within the environment and constraints that a company operates. The first step is to conduct an internal review, called a Business Impact Analysis (BIA). This review will identify all areas, from technical resources to human resources, which could be affected by a variety of interruptions.

The BCP process does not stop there. MNP has the capability to build upon the findings of a BIA to create a useable BCP for your company. For more information, please feel free to contact me or your local MNP advisor.