Well prepared for an emergency
- How to
- 21 Sept 2023
- Edited 7 Mar 2022
- 3 min
- Managing and growing
- Secure business
How do you keep running your business after it has been hit by a disaster, such as a fire, a pandemic, or a power failure? Drawing up a business continuity plan allows you to think about this in advance. It will give you guidance on when you need to make decisions in an emergency.
Emergencies can cause important processes or people to not be available. Your business, or parts of it, may come to a standstill for a longer period of time. This will affect your customers, your staff, and your income. Many business owners think about this, but they do not have a specific plan. Prepare for the unexpected as best you can, and create a business continuity plan (BCP).
What is a BCP?
A BCP allows you to minimise the damage caused by a disaster or an emergency. In it, you can identify vital processes and business units and what they need in order to keep running. The BCP tells you what to do if these are impacted. For example, how to proceed if you do not have all of your staff, if you cannot get into your building, or if your ICT fails.
A BCP is not an emergency plan
A BCP is not the same as an emergency plan. An emergency plan, also known as an in-house emergency response plan or a business emergency plan (in Dutch), covers what to do on the spot during and immediately after an emergency. It also outlines how to keep people and assets safe. An emergency plan is not required by law, but it is important when it comes to properly arranging for your company’s in-house emergency response. If you have a fire alarm centre on your premises, you must also have an evacuation plan (in Dutch). This sets out how to carry out an evacuation safely.
So the BCP is not about the emergency itself, but about how you respond to the aftermath.
Take preventive measures
With preventive measures, you limit the risks of disasters. A risk inventory and evaluation (RI&E) allows you to identify the risks associated with health problems and accidents in your business. The RI&E is the starting point of your health and safety policy. If you have staff, an RI&E is mandatory.
Why a BCP?
What is important or even vital for the survival of your business? That is what the BCP is all about. Important information that you have lined up well will serve as guidance when you have to make decisions under considerable pressure. The BCP should always be ready to hand, in hard copy, in various places, at home and on your premises. Because online documents are often not available during an emergency. Reputation, reliability, customer service, and knowledge are invaluable matters that are not covered by insurance. It is precisely those things that you can secure with a BCP.
Prevent reputational damage
Reputational damage is the second biggest risks for businesses, after economic downturn is. Think in advance about how to deal with any damage to your reputation. Know who your key customers are, how quickly you can reach them, and through which channels. Prepare various pieces of interesting content about your business. This is an important precaution when it comes to managing your reputation, also online. You can then immediately act should your company start appearing in the press in a negative way. Here you can read tips to prevent reputational damage (in Dutch).
How do you draw up a business continuity plan?
To be well prepared for a disaster, it is wise to assess the implications it can have for the continuity of your business. The assessment can cover items as production data, customer data, contact details of your staff, permits, and other relevant information. You also record preventive measures to reduce risks. For example, how do you avoid losing important customer and other data, and make sure your staff can keep working? Of course you make regular back-ups of your computer files. But how often do you do this, where is the data stored, and is it also duplicated? To prevent fire, you must have electrical installations and appliances checked regularly. Have you made proper arrangements with your installation company about this?
Every crisis situation is different, so, when you are drafting your BCP, stick to the main topics. Focus on the issues that could arise in a crisis and the aftermath.
BCP drafting checklist
The questions below will help you draw up a BCP for your company.
Costs and insurance
- How high are the fixed costs during the period in which you are forced to close down business?
- What costs are involved?
- How long can your business survive without any revenue?
- Is your business properly insured? Check your insurance policies.
- Have you covered the risks to your business as much as you can?
- How dependent is your company on certain staff members?
- Which employees and functions are involved?
- How dependent is your business on certain customers and/or suppliers?
- Which customers or suppliers are involved?
- How do you communicate about the aftermath of a disaster to customers, employees, and the media?
- How are your records and other important digital data secured?
- How quickly can your IT network be used again?
Getting started again
- Is it possible to keep your business going at its present location?
- Is it possible to keep your business going in the immediate area?
- How much time do you need for recovery? When can you restart?
- What minimum facilities do you need when restarting at another business location?
- What issues do you need to arrange with one or another authority, such as permits and the zoning plan.