What Is Your Business Recovery Plan?
(Originally published as an article within ECCU’s former e-publication, Ministry Banking Today.)
When fire raged through the neighborhood and threatened the home of ECCU’s President/CEO Mark G. Holbrook, he knew he was facing what he’d always known could happen. Nestled in a canyon and surrounded by vegetation, his house was a glutton for punishment should a fire break out. For 20 years the family had taken great care to keep the hills surrounding their house free of brush and compliant with fire safety codes. It was this vigilance—and the good hand of God—that saved their home from complete destruction. But putting out the fire proved to be just half the battle—recovering and rebuilding from the damage brought on an entirely new challenge.
Is your ministry ready should disaster strike? Odds are, like Mr. Holbrook, your ministry has done what it can to help prevent devastation from calamity—by installing fire alarms and sprinklers, conducting earthquake drills, and acquiring adequate insurance. But, should the unexpected come, do you have a plan to get your ministry quickly back in operation?
A business recovery plan (BRP) is the roadmap to restore your operations after a disaster. To help get you started in creating your own BRP, Ministry Banking Today offers these tips:
First, realize its importance. In order to sustain your ministry after a disaster, you need to reopen and resume business operations quickly. This will be much more likely if you protect your vital resources, including equipment, data, and documents. If your BRP is complete, and the business recovery mindset is already ingrained in your staff, you’re well on your way. Also, realize that the planning is often more important than the plan itself. The process of creating your BRP—which should involve the whole organization—deepens everyone’s familiarity with how the organization operates and increases staff confidence in the caliber of your ministry.
What should you include in your BRP? Your BRP should identify key documents, staff, processes, facilities, systems, and other items necessary to keep your ministry running short-term. It should also have contingency plans for how to operate without these critical elements, and procedures for bringing the ministry back online after a disaster. Also, be sure to include key contact information (such as vendors, emergency personnel, and emergency contact numbers for each staff) and the location of emergency supplies. It is also imperative that your BRP include easily understood emergency procedures (e.g., how to report an emergency, evacuation plans, basic first aid, and procedures to assist those with special needs).
Where do you start? You don’t have to create your BRP all at once; the important thing is to just get started. This checklist will get you headed in the right direction:
- Perform a business impact analysis to identify the effect a disaster could have on your critical systems and processes. (The greater the impact, the more money you should allocate to restore that system or process.)
- Create teams. Identify key employees necessary for your ministry to function and involve them in the BRP creation process. Designate representatives from critical departments to your business recovery teams.
- Establish (and inform staff regarding) your policies for disaster communications. Then conduct timely drills on crisis communication with employees, customers, and vendors.
- Cross-train employees. The employees you typically count on will not always be available.
- Make sure employees, including pastors and executives, are involved in exercises so that all can practice responding.
- Research alternative communication channels (in case phone and/or electronic networks become unavailable).
- Form partnerships with local emergency response personnel so they are familiar with your site.
- Test your plan regularly to reveal gaps and the need for changes in written procedures.
- Protect important data (such as payroll information and insurance records). And, establish a plan for storing copies/backups in a secure location.
Remember, a good BRP can’t answer every question that will come up in every disaster. But the planning process can build competencies and a culture that will leave your ministry in a strong position to deal with any circumstance. For more detailed information on creating a BRP, read Forget the Plan…But Do the Planning: Business Recovery Planning for the Whole Organization from the Christian Management Report (currently published as Outcomes).
To hear more of Mark Holbrook’s story about the fire, check out There’s Good News Here Somewhere… in The Buzz.