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Understanding the Importance of Having a Documented and Well Maintained Business Continuity Plan

April 7, 2017

It would be incredibly naïve for a business owner to think that he or she is immune to the risks associated with an emergency or disaster occurring in Canada. Potential emergencies or disasters include but, are not limited to:


  • Natural disasters (I.e. tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, forest fires)

  • Accidents

  • Sabotage

  • Major utility provider interruptions (i.e. electricity, hydro, natural gas)

  • Communications failures

  • Environmental disasters (i.e. hazardous spills, pollution)

  • Cyber attacks

  • Serious illness outbreaks

  • Terrorist attacks 



Every organization, from small operations to large corporations, are at risk from these potential emergencies and disasters, thus it is critical for every business owner to establish and implement a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) that is tailored to their specific operations and industry.


A BCP is a proactive, documented program that ensures the rapid and cost effective recovery of essential services and can be activated because of an event that has been declared as an emergency or disaster at the municipal or provincial level. It is important to understand that a Business Continuity Plan is not the same as a Business Resumption Plan or a Disaster Recovery Plan. Business Resumption and Disaster Recovery Planning are applied after an emergency or disaster has occurred, enabling businesses to resume normal operations.


Unlike the Business Continuity Plan, neither the Business Resumption or Disaster Recovery plan include detailed procedures that ensure key services and/or operations are supplied to clients during a declared event.


There are five major components of a BCP:


  1. Business Continuity Plan Governance

  2. Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

  3. Procedures, measures, and plans to mitigate service/operation disruptions

  4. Readiness Standard Operating Procedures

  5. Quality Management System


Combined, these sections ensure that critical services and/or operations do not cease in the event of an emergency or disaster, and that essential resources, processes, protocols, and procedures are identified to reinforce the Business Continuity Plan, including:


  • Team members responsible for activating the plan

  • Emergency operation centre (EOC) or remote locations

  • Risk warning and notification processes

  • BCP activation process

  • Business records management

  • Recall from a disaster procedures

  • Pay/benefits protocol

  • Family leave protocol

  • Security procedures

  • Customer accounting and orders procedures

  • Utility and postal services procedures

  • Finance and insurance protocol

  • Internal and external communications procedures

  • Mutual aid protocol

  • Salvage protocol

  • Training procedures

  • Threat/risk analysis and procedures


Research indicates that more than 25% of all businesses that have suffered an emergency or disaster did not survive the adverse impacts of the event and were forced to cease operations within the same year. This statistic should be alarming for business owners, however 95% of employers indicate that they do not have a Business Continuity Plan in place, yet still felt prepared in the event of an emergency or disaster.


Business owners should recognize that even during a critical event, they are still obliged to pay building rent and/or leasing fees, corporate and property taxes to the government, executive employee salaries, and other related expenses. This can have huge implications for businesses that have not financially prepared themselves for the possibility of an extreme situation to occur.


Although there is an overwhelming number of benefits to establishing, implementing, and maintaining a Business Continuity Plan, there are 5 significant reasons why implementing a BCP into operating procedures is truly beneficial for an organization:


  1. A carefully designed BCP ensures that critical operations and/or services are provided during a serious event, such as a disaster or emergency.

  2. A detailed BCP has identified and implemented an emergency operation centre or remote location, enabling the business to continue providing services to its’ clients should the main operating facility be impacted or inoperable.

  3. By utilizing threat and risk management protocols, a well planned BCP protects valuable company assets, including its clients, employees, and business records.

  4. A well designed BCP reduces shutdown time and ensures the business quickly resumes its normal operations.

  5. Most importantly, an established, implemented, and maintained BCP prevents the business from being forced into ceasing operations permanently in the event of an emergency or disaster.


The bottom line is, if you haven’t already developed and implemented a Business Continuity Plan for your organization, there is no better time than now to start protecting your business from future adversaries.



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