from Joseph Pisani, National Manager of Franchising Services, Bank of Montreal.
You don’t expect your home to burn down. However, you buy insurance to be prepared for the worst. Similarly, you do not expect uncontrollable events to disrupt the operations of your business. But if they do, a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) can be the insurance you need to stay afloat during potentially dire circumstances.
Insurance professionals know all too well the impact that uncontrollable events can have on people and businesses. While fortunately, most of us are only touched by these events from time to time – floods in particular come to recent memory – proper insurance coverage and preparedness are the best way to minimize negative impacts.
If business you are in is caught off guard by an unexpected event, operating at close to normal may be difficult if not impossible. Now, the goal is not to panic but to be prepared. The development of a BCP is a simple and an important exercise that would pay massive dividends. Ultimately, a BCP may place your employees in a position to carry on effectively in that:
- priority services and operations will have been established
- employees will have been trained to handle the jobs of co-workers
- policies for flexible hours and alternative compensation will have been established
- a list of alternate suppliers or awareness of their operational directives under a BCP will be available
- countless other contingencies that apply specifically to the business you are in, will have been considered and planned for
- employees will understand the business BCP and will be ready to take appropriate action
There are numerous government resources and private sector experts available to assist businesses in developing an effective BCP. While utilizing experts for any area that you are not fully proficient is good advice, seven simple steps can be taken by any business to develop a BCP.
- Identify potential threats: a BCP starts by recognizing the potential threats that could impact the business.
- Assess the risks: this involves scaling the probability of a threat and the impact that the threat could have on the business.
- Set business priorities: when an unexpected event occurs, employees must know which business functions are crucial and which can wait.
- Analyze the impact of the business disruption: probably the most in depth analysis in constructing a BCP, this can range from determining how long different functional areas can operate in the business before being materially impacted, to assessing the potential impact of decreased sales.
- Create an action strategy: develop a clear outline of the steps that need to be taken to maintain your services/ functions in the event that a potential threat becomes reality. This should be constructed for the key functional areas of the business: people, operations, facilities and information.
- Implement the action strategy: keep employees briefed on the action strategy and ensure they are trained to meet the increased demands that could be placed on them.
- Maintain the BCP: as the business expands or changes, employees change or new potential threats arise it is critical that the BCP is updated accordingly.
Many people that have been affected by a catastrophic event now understand what they need to do to be prepared to weather other uncontrollable events with greater comfort. There is security in being prepared, but a cost as well. The same holds true for the business you are in. Being prepared for various threats does take time, effort and money. But as anyone who endured time without power or heat or shelter or sales will attest the cost of not being prepared is far greater than the cost of being prepared. So take the time and ensure the business you are in has an effective BCP in place.
Joseph Pisani has been in Commercial Banking for over 12 years. Joseph joined the Bank of Montreal’s Franchising Services Department in 2006. His past experiences include roles as Commercial Banking Account Manager, and operating a small business. Based out of Toronto, Joseph’s role as National Manager Franchising Services consists of identifying, developing and managing a portfolio of financial service programs aimed at facilitating financing and cash management products for selected franchise networks.
Phone: (416) 927-6025