How to Create An Effective Business Continuity Plan (+ FREE Checklists)

Michelle C.

Many businesses can excel in the short-run, but only a selected few will last in the long-run. More often than not, these tend to be companies that have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place. If you’re not familiar with BCP or need a quick refresher, click here to learn more about BCP.

In this blog post, we’ll be diving deeper into three crucial areas to take note of when it comes to creating an effective Business Continuity Plan (BCP) for your business to handle any crisis.

Protecting Employees 

The first area that your BCP needs to cover is how to protect your employees. Human resources management needs to be your number one priority. Your employees rely on you to keep them safe while they are working and you rely on them to provide service to your customers. 

There are three scenarios your employees will encounter during an emergency such as COVID-19: 

  1. Being deemed non-essential and having their job furloughed
  2. Being required to work from home during the duration of the pandemic
  3. Being required to still report to their work location despite the pandemic

In scenario 1, you need to provide your employees with status updates regarding their return to work, if they will be returning to work. Even if the circumstances are uncertain, you should maintain transparency in your regular communications to them on the situation.

Scenario 2: When working from home, you need to help ensure that employees are up-to-date, are set up to work productively (where possible), and still maintain engagement with the company. This will look different for each organisation but can include things like access to a secure VPN access to communication tools that allow them to stay in contact, company-provided tools (i.e: laptops, phones, etc.), and clear expectations regarding what they are needed to accomplish during these times.

Scenario 3: When not working from home, your BCP should outline how you plan to keep your employees safe while they are at work.

You can refer to the following checklist as you put together this section of your BCP to ensure you don’t miss anything.

Human Resources Management Checklist

  • Name of BCP manager (This is the person who has been appointed to ensure that all employees are familiar with the protocols in the BCP and comply with them during this time.)
  • Digital HR software (such as altHR)
  • Plan for when management is absent (who is ‘2nd in command’)
  • Contact details of all employees and their next-of-kin
  • Resource page of important contacts within the company
  • Resource page of  Ministry of Health hotline & a list of Klinik Kesihatan
  • Insurance coverage information (if available)
  • Quarantine procedures and guidelines (for high-risk staff)

Protecting Business 

Your BCP should also address processes and procedures that can be put in place to ensure that the business can run as smoothly as possible considering the situation and prevent your company from becoming obsolete. There are a few areas you need to cover while formulating your BCP in order to come up with the essential processes you need to maintain to keep your business up and running.

First, spend some time during the continuity planning process reviewing non-critical business expenses. One area that many SMEs cut first is their marketing and advertising budget. Make sure you know what your spending and conversion numbers are while you are making these decisions. Do you expect the same results during MCO? Remember that your advertising budget could bring in more revenue than before. Do not just follow your competitors blindly and pull out all your marketing during an emergency.

Secondly, you need to take a look at your product offerings and how they should change when you implement your BCP. You should only be offering your core products while operating under your BCP. With reduced resources and mobility due to working from home conditions, it is important to figure out which core offerings contribute to the largest percentage of revenue for your company. What can you do to maintain the delivery of this product?

Lastly, you need to relook at employee roles. Some roles may be redundant during a prolonged emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic. You will need to either change employee roles or have to look at how to reduce headcount. If you think you will need to cut positions, one thing to consider is making just one big round of layoffs rather than multiple small rounds of layoffs. 

We have compiled the following business process and procedures checklist for you to refer to as you draft this section of your BCP.

Business Process & Procedures Checklist

  • Business Impact Analysis
  • Crisis management process for quick decision turnaround
  • Identify core business functions and evaluation matrix of exposure and risk
  • Recovery strategy post-pandemic (and post-CMCO in this scenario)
  • Response procedures for positive cases
  • Evacuation process for emergency situation (positive case among employees)
  • Guidelines for visitors to office/premises and tracking
  • List of employees, their roles & relevance
  • Clear outlines on work from home arrangements
  • Checklist of tools and logins required for working from home
  • Alternative options for meetings
  • Good Internet connectivity for employees (Digi provides Mobile Broadband that can help you ensure your employees can log on whenever they need)

For working in the office/physical outlets:

  • Sanitisers
  • Masks
  • Tissue paper / Antibacterial wipes
  • Lidded rubbish bins
  • Office setup for safe distancing
  • Good ventilation (open windows)

Protecting Customers & Stakeholders

The last area you need to address in your BCP is how you will continue to interact with and serve your customers and stakeholders. Supplier and customer management is essential to whether your business can weather the current crisis. Tools like Omni are great for helping you accomplish this. Once you have crafted this section of your BCP, take the time to share your plan with partners and relevant stakeholders. It’s also a good idea to see if they will share their plan with you. This way you can coordinate actions and responses during an emergency. This process is also an excellent opportunity to take another look at whether you need to diversify your partners or suppliers.

When you have finalised your BCP, take the time to communicate the relevant parts with your customers. This is a great way to manage your customers’ and stakeholders’ expectations regarding the delivery of your product or service during a time of emergency.

The following two checklists will help ensure you cover all the necessary topics in this section of your BCP. 

Supplier & Customer Management Checklist

  • Identify and list Tier 1 & Tier 2 suppliers/stakeholders/customers 
  • Compile contact information for Tier 1 & Tier 2 suppliers/stakeholders/customers
  • Create an inventory tracking list for physical products
  • Contingency plan for inventory shortage
  • Check contracts & agreements for SLAs that will impact business
  • Review insurance policies on delay in product delivery

Checklist for Locations Open During COVID-19

For physical outlets open, ensure that rules are adhered to for social distancing:

  • Offer services through digital channels if possible
  • Minimise or remove contact of employees with outsiders if possible
  • Ensure you have the necessary tools to run your business safely (temperature checker, sanitisers)
  • Evacuation and Disinfection Process (if there is a positive case tracked back to your premises)

With these three areas clearly outlined in your Business Continuity Plan (BCP), your business is now well-equipped to handle any crisis that comes your way.

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