“A well-developed business continuity plan can provide the association with a roadmap for maintaining revenue streams, continued operations and customer service during times of crisis”
– Associations Forum
It is essential for associations to have a Business Continuity Plan in place in case of any potential disruptions. If your organisation doesn’t have a system in place to recover quickly, it could be subject to a loss of members, damaged reputation, or a loss of business.
As with many things, a good BCP does not stand entirely on its own. One way to optimize the efficiency of your BCP is to ensure you have a comprehensive and updated Risk Matrix in place that you can connect it to.
Risk Matrices are designed to assess possible risks to any area of your association, mainly focusing on the size of the risk and likelihood of it taking place. This is very useful in the initial stage of creating your BCP, as it will highlight the potential risks to your association and direct you to the problem areas that the BCP should be based around.
A recent article by the National Australian Bank (NAB) discussed the significance of a BCP and provided a succinct guide to help an organisation get started.
So, what should your association have in mind when developing a Business Contingency Plan?
1. Identify critical processes
Your association must prioritise the critical processes over those that can wait. Locate the key functions that allow your organisation to run and allocate time-based targets for the restoration of these.
To give you some ideas of what there would look like, the Associations Forum listed:
• Human Resources / Staff
• Marketing and Communication
• Risk Management
NAB listed a few additional areas, including:
• Resource suppliers or service providers
• Property and infrastructure, including stock, supplies and equipment
• Vital business records such as customer data
2. Consider the effects
What would happen if your members had no way to contact your organisation for an extended period of time? The cause is unimportant, what is important is your ability to continue providing services with as little negative impact as possible.
Ask yourself; in the case of a technological systems failure, how would your organisation access member data and records?
If your facilities were damaged or temporarily not functional, how would your staff continue to work?
Imagining the scenario and adopting a problem-solving mindset will help highlight the issues you would be struggling with should the crisis happen. This will give your Association the chance to tackle issues that may arise before they cause significant damage.
3. Develop the Plan
The most essential factor when developing a BCP is to ensure everything is clearly laid out and everyone is aware of their responsibilities. Key personnel should be involved in the development of the plan and be made aware of everyone’s roles should it require implementation.
4. Test it
Although it is often difficult to picture these disruptions, always make sure to test your BCP for flaws and potential improvements. This could involve anything from a desk-based run-through to a real-time simulation of a range of scenarios. Contemplate as many variables as possible when assessing the plan and consider adding something unexpected. This will help ensure your organisation is prepared for any situation.
5. Review and Refine
Due to the ever-changing nature of life, a BCP plan is not something you can just set and forget. Associations are constantly facing potential disruptions and your plan will need to be regularly updated and re-assessed to ensure its relevance.
In this fast-paced world, the saying ‘time is money’ becomes increasingly relevant. This reality can make creating an effective BCP feel as though it comes at too high a cost, just to be covered in the case of a distant potential crisis. Ask yourself however – if one of these scenarios happened today, how much of a loss would your Association make in terms of revenue and damage to your brand?
Are you willing to take that risk?
A Business Continuity Plan is not just your key to recovery, it’s a practical way of maintaining your competitive edge and building resilience.– NAB
Susanna Truasheim, Marketing Manager