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The Top 10 Business Continuity Plan Mistakes

November 11, 2020

A business continuity plan gives a business or organization a map to follow that will help them continue operating, even during and after a disaster. A continuity plan can be a powerful tool in a time of need, if used properly. Unfortunately, many organizations with a business continuity plan are making simple mistakes that make their plans less effective. 

Here are nine business continuity mistakes that can be easily avoided to ensure your organization is getting the most from your business continuity plan. 

1. They Focus Only on IT Systems

A common mistake is to only focus on a continuity plan for your IT system. While IT systems are important and should be considered, your plan should cover all aspects and critical functions of your organization. 

2. They Have No External Backups

For many companies, it is possible to continue working without some hardware. But it is impossible to bounce back from a disaster if your data is lost. Vital data should be backed up frequently and consistently as part of your business continuity plan.  

3. They Don’t Test Their Plan

An important part of any continuity plan is to test it. A test provides opportunities to see any weaknesses in the plan, while also giving a chance for everyone involved to understand their role. 

4. They Don’t Revise Their Plan

A continuity plan should never be considered finished—it should be tested, improved, and revised frequently. Your organization will grow and develop over time, and so will your needs. 

Depending on your organization’s size and structure, you should visit your completed business continuity plan as often as once a quarter, and at the very least once a year, to ensure it is up to date and relevant. 

5. They Use Broad Generalizations

Business continuity plans must be specific with step by step instructions in every aspect. Including broad generalizations in your continuity plan can lead to confusion and uncertainty. 

A continuity plan should be specific enough in its directions that anyone reading it would know exactly what each person involved is expected to do, and how they are going to accomplish it.

6. They Only Consider Themselves

A common mistake is to only think about the effect of a disaster on your own organization. You can not rely on an outside source if they face the same problem that is affecting your organization. For example, if your office is flooded, relocating to a nearby building isn’t possible if they are flooded too. Sticking with this example, you’ll want to be sure you’ve planned for an alternate work location.

A business continuity plan has to consider your area’s larger economy and how the disaster you are planning for affects your organization, the campus as a whole, and surrounding companies and government agencies. 

7. They Limit Their Plan to One Employee

Your plan should never make one specific employee responsible for any part of the plan. What happens when that employee moves or get promoted? What if a key player in your plan was injured in the disaster affecting your organization? Tasks should be redundant with a clear line of alternates in case one person is unable to fill their role. Remember: a key part of continuity planning is planning for an essential employee being absent.

8. They Limit How to Access the Plan in an Emergency

It may be easy to find your continuity plan on a computer or in the cloud now, but what if there’s no electricity or the hard copy is not physically accessible in your office due to a flood or fire? How will your company know what to do when they can’t access the plan during or after a disaster? You need to be able to access your plan in case of an emergency.

9. They Skip Risk Assessment

A risk assessment is a necessary starting step that must happen before creating a business continuity plan. Risk assessments discover what potential risks there are in your area.

Depending on your physical location, the size of your organization, and what programs and activities your institution offers (student housing, research facilities, etc.), you are at risk for different events. You should not plan for a hurricane if you are not located in an area that is at risk for hurricanes. A risk assessment helps you identify potential risks you should account for in your business continuity plan(s). 

10. They Have a Lack of Involvement or Buy-In

A plan will never work properly if only a handful of staff is invested in it. Continuity plans are for the entire department, college, division, or institution. If you do not have backing throughout your organization, you run the risk of essential parts of the plan not working which can lead to much larger problems during an adverse event.

Get Help With Kuali Ready

Avoid these common business continuity mistakes with Kuali Ready. Kuali Ready guides the planning process to ensure you keep a broad scope, provides reminders to update your plans, and is accessible from any internet-connected device while maintaining backups of your plans. Find out more about Kuali Ready and how we can amplify your planning efforts today. 

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