Could Your Business Survive Without Critical Infrastructure?

Urging citizens to remain vigilant against foreign and domestic threats, President Obama has named November 2013 as Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month.

He noted that America’s critical infrastructure is “complex and diverse, combining systems in both cyberspace and the physical world — from power plants, bridges, and interstates to Federal buildings and the massive electrical grids that power our Nation.”

All of us rely on critical infrastructure to support the way we live and work, but how many organizations have taken steps to build a business continuity plan that takes into account risks to the infrastructure that supports your operations?

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is the least expensive insurance any company can have (especially for small companies, as it costs virtually nothing to produce). It details how employees will stay in touch and keep doing their jobs in the event of a disaster or emergency.

Business Continuity Plans are sometimes referred to as Disaster Recovery Plans and the two have much in common. However Disaster Recovery Plans should be oriented towards recovering after a disaster whereas a Business Continuity Plans shows how to continue doing business until recovery is accomplished.

Step 1: Personnel

Document internal key personnel and backups

  • These are people who fill positions without which your business absolutely cannot function – make the list as large as necessary but as small as possible.

  • Consider which job functions are critically necessary, every day. Think about who fills those positions when the primary job-holder is on vacation.

  • Make a list of those individuals with all contact information including business phone, home phone, cell phone, pager, business email, personal email, and any other possible way of contacting them in an emergency situation where normal communications might be unavailable.

Identify who can telecommute

  • Some people in your company might be perfectly capable of conducting business from a home office. Make a list of those who can telecommute and who cannot.

Plan where business operations will take place

  • If telecommuting isn’t a viable option for everyone, plan where business will take place and include a map of the temporary location.

Make a “How-to”

  • Include step-by-step instructions on what to do, who should do it, and how.

  • List each responsibility and write down the name of the person assigned to it.

Step 2: External contacts

Identify and document external resources and contacts

  • Build a contact list of vendors and contractors, which includes a description of the company (or individual) and any other critical information.

  • Consider including people like attorneys, bankers, IT consultants, or anyone that you might need to call to assist with various operational issues.

Step 3: Documents and equipment

Document and back up any and all critical equipments, documents, and software

  • Make sure any important computers, software, and information are backed up.

  • Document any equipment your business couldn’t operate without (copiers, printers, fax machines, computers, etc.)

    • Have plans in place to rent or replace necessary eqipment

  • Have copies of all documents that would be necessary to start your business over again (articles of incorporation and other legal papers, utility bills, banking information, critical HR documents, building lease papers, tax returns.)

Step 4: Organize and Execute

Make sure the plan is accessible

  • Put all the plan documents, processes, and procedures together in one place (like a three-ring-binder.)

  • Make plenty of copies and give one to each of your key personnel.

  • Keep plenty of copies at an offsite location.

Put the plan into action

  • Test the plan and modify as needed to address any issues.

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