The “Why” of a Business Continuity Plan

Lets focus on the positives of a Business Continuity Plan rather than the negatives.

When we talk to potential clients most of the time the focus is negative, if you don’t have a plan your business will likely not survive.  There are many high percentage numbers used to basically scare any business, but that usually turns the high level executive away from building a Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

Lets give potential clients a more positive approach on the “why” it is good to have a BCP in place;

  • First a business continuity/emergency preparedness plan helps a small to medium size business gain additional market share by increasing the ability to work within a vendor supply chain (think Federal and very large corporations) as well as re-opening more quickly after a disaster event.
  • Second, have a business continuity plan has started being a requirement of obtaining capital to grow a business.  Banks are required by federal law to have BCP’s so it stands to reason they would like to have their clients also to have plans in place to protect their investment. Insurance companies could provide, and some do, discounts for businesses that have a BCP.
  • Third, emergency plan is a requirement and an expectation of doing business


Developing a Business Continuity Plan

Identifying Essential Functions

A critical step in developing a Business Continuity Plan is identifying the oranizations’s essential functions; their associated key personnnel; and supporting critical systems/processes that must be sustained for at least two weeks following a disruption.  Essential functions encompass those critical areas of business that must continue even in the event of an emergency.  In other works, they are those functions that must be performed to achieve the organizations’s mission.

Identifying essential functions requires an intimate understanding of all the organizations’s operations.  Although many functions are important, not every activity the organization performs is an essential function that must be sustained in an emergency for two weeks.  thus, the key to identifying essential functions is the organization’s mission.


Business Impact Analysis (BIA)/Risk Assessments (RA)

Risk Assessment/Business Impact Analysis

Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is the standard method by which businesses plan for continuing operations in an emergency. BCP involves several steps, which include performing a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) and a Risk Assessment (RA) (also referred to as Risk Analysis). It is impossible to properly plan for a disaster if the likely impacts of various disruptions on an organization are unknown

A BIA is a means of systematically assessing the potential impacts of various events on operations.  It allows an organization to understand the degree of loss that could occur from each potential disruption.

The first step in conducting a BIA is identifying the assets that are required to perform the organization’s core mission. The second step involves identifying the potential hazards or threats to these assets. The third step requires determining the susceptibility of the organization to the effects of each hazard or threat. The fourth and final step requires determining the potential impact of each threat. Assessing the impact of an event includes not only estimating the quantitative or economic losses but also the qualitative impact on the organization’s ability to operate, i.e., psychological effects on employees and effect on the reputation of the organization.

Although the BIA and RA are two separate inquiries, they are closely related and essential steps in Business Continuity Planning; thus, they are often performed together and the terms are used interchangeably. Often, the RA is performed together with the vulnerability assessment in a BIA.


Business Continuity Plan

Testing, Training & Exercises

Developing a “Testing, Training & Exercise” (TT&E) program is essential to ensure organizations a capable of supporting the continued execution of mission essential and critical functions throughout the duration of any continuity situation.  A comprehensive TT&E program will provide training in the appropriate functional areas of mission readiness.  It will also provide opportunities to acquire and apply the skills and knowledge needed for business continuity operations.  The TT&E program needs to include specially designed training workshops, drills and exercises.  Conducting a tabletop exercise will identify strengths and shortfalls and enhance understanding of Business Continuity Planning/Continuity of Operations Planning concepts by allowing participants to thoroughly work through the Business Continuity Planning/Continuity of Operations Planning process in a slow-paced, interactive problem solving environment.

Business Continuity Plan Updating

Galena Property Services Business Continuity Updates

It is important to continuity update your Business Continuity Plans on a regular basis.  Our recommendation is at least every 6 months.  This is why Galena Property Services will be updating the winery plans completed November 2011.  Reasons are many:

1.  Business Continuity Plan is a living document.

2.  Personnel change.

3.  Departments may have changed some of their mission essential functions.

4.  If personnel change, training is most important.  If it is a critical personnel change they may be in charge of their part of the Business Continuity Plan.

5.  Alternate Work locations may now be different, checking to see if original alternate work locations are still valid.

6.  Critical software may need updating to the plan.

Just a few items to check when updating your Business Continuity Plan.




Business Continuity Outsourcing

Consultant versus In House; writing your Business Continuity Plan

It is important to find the right consultant to work with management in the preparing a Business Continuity Plan.  Organizations often assign staff members the task of completing the Business Continuity Plan and soon realize internal employees do not have the skills to write a plan that can be easily implemented.  In today’s lean staffing environment, employees do not have the time to devote to writing the plan.  The added value of working with a consultant to develop a Business Continuity Plan is the significant improvements realized in the organization’s processes and communication protocol, as well as ensuring the ability to stay operational no matter what happens.





Lets continue on with choosing the best Alternate Work Location:

7.  If you have public interface, do you need transaction counters and waiting rooms?

8.  Does your work group need confidentiality – private offices, bullpens, or meeting rooms?

9.  Are there any special adjacencies required for teamwork and frequent face-to-face interactions?

10.  Verify you will have access to the information required – serviers, vital praper documents, internet, etc.

11.  Confirm what resources will be available, such as equipment, computers, printers, fac machines, copiers and telephones.

12.  Identify special needs and look for locations to accommodate them, such as laboratories, child care, refrigeration and meal service availability.

All this is very important when choosing an alternate work location, and once again try and have at least two alternate work locations and if possible have three.



Continuing on with Business Continuity another important part of the continuing your day to day operations AFTER an emergency or disaster is your Alternate Work Location(s). It is a good idea for all work groups to identify places you can go to perform mission essential functions in case you building becomes uninhabitable or unusable.  The following are suggestions – things to keep in mind and questions to answer – when selecting an Alternate Work Location:

1.  Select at least two Alternate Work Locations various distances and directions from your office.

2.  Avoid overcrowding by assuming at least 75-110 square feet per person.

3.  Plan to be operational within 12 hours and plan to be in your Alternate Work Location for up to a month in any season.

4.  What type of access does the facility need – freeway or off-the-beaten path?

5.  Do you need all day parking or short term parking for visitors?

6.  Does the entrance need to be public (easy to find) or do you need security?

This is just half of the questions you need to answer, I will have the rest in our next blog. Think about what and where you will relocate and how to keep your business operational and keep you clients and vendors coming back no matter what happens.  Alternate Work Locations is a very important step in your overall Business Continuity Plan.  

Contact Galena Property Services for all your Business Continuity Planning.  (775) 721-1371






Before writing a Business Continuity Plan several planning activities need to be done.  Start by preparing or updating a Risk Assessment to identify potential hazards, threats, and adverse events, and assess their impact on the business.  The Risk Assessment provides a realistic understanding of vulnerabilities in order to mitigate risk and prepare to respond to emergencies.  Next identify the “mission critical” tasks the organization must continue to perform to be considered operational.  Mission critical tasks are the ones that if not performed will have an adverse effect on finances or image, will seriously hurt critical business functions for an unacceptable amount of time, or will have legal or regulatory implications.  Identify staffing and resources required to perform mission critical tasks, and find an appropriate Alternate Work Location.  Ideally Alternate Work Locations will have the resources needed by staff so they are able to continue working with minimal downtime.  For example, if the organization requires a laboratory, find an Alternate Work Location that has a similar lab.  While working in the Alternate Work Location, prioritize the work processes that must be done rather than trying to keep business running as usual.

Remember, know how to keep your physical business operational after any emergency or disaster.  Contact Galena Property Services for all your BCP needs at (775)721-1371.

I will continue with more Business Continuity Planning discussion later in the week.



What is  and Business Continuity Planning?  Some statistics that you may or may not know:

  • 20% of small to medium size businesses suffer a major disaster every five years.
  • Over 40% of US companies never reopen after a disaster and 29% more close within three years.
  • 93% of companies that suffer significant data loss are out of business within five years.
Think about the natural disasters around the world in the last couple of years, the Japan tsunami, some major world companies were unable to get parts, this has the domino effect to other companies and that in effect causes an economic slow down.  Have a plan in place!

These daunting statistics are a good reason for every organization to have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP).  What exactly is a BCP?  It is a comprehensive approach to ensure you maintain your ability to operate after a disaster.  Business Continuity Plans for Information Technology, Human Resources, and the physical plant cannot be developed in isolation; they must be fully integrated and multi-dimensional.  Every organization needs to have a Business Continuity Plan, regardless of the type of organization, the number of employees, the dollar volume, and the location.  The entire staff needs to be given training to know how to respond to any type of emergency, regardless of the severity and impact.

The next blog topic I will discuss is Risk Assessments and how important they are.  See you next week.





Galena Property Services is proud to begin a twice weekly page on Business Continuity and Disaster Planning. It is our passion to pick and discuss topics that we believe will help your organization stay operational no matter the type of emergency or disaster.  During the last couple of years many areas of the world and here in the U.S. have experience a number of life and business changing disasters.  Just a few that remind us of our vulnerabilities; the Joplin tornadoes, the recent out break of tornadoes in Kansas where the Boeing facility had to shut down and world earthquakes just to name a few.  We are here to help.  How do you prepare for the unexpected?

Just a couple of topics we will be discussing in the coming weeks; alternate care sites, risk assessments, Business Impact Analysis,  where to start and how to start your Business Continuity Plan.  

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