Business continuity planners assess risks to the ongoing operation of businesses and make plans to mitigate, transfer or accept those risks. For example, businesses that handle personal financial transactions online may be susceptible to computer hackers. Business continuity planners recommend ways to reduce company risks and provide step-by-step instructions that assist employees to recover operations back to normal as efficiently as possible should the risk become a reality.
Larger organizations may need business continuity plans for several types of risks, (for example, computer system failure, leaked client information, epidemic, natural disaster).
In general, business continuity planners:
- assess an organization's risk of disruption from unplanned or planned events
- co-ordinate input from leaders and business areas throughout the organization to identify critical business functions and processes and the impact disruption may have
- develop relationships with information technology and other departments who provide services to the business areas
- recommend business recovery strategies and prioritize options
- identify the organization's emergency response and ongoing operational plan for critical business areas (for example, reduced services or services provided at alternate locations)
- review emergency plans (for example, ordering building evacuations, identifying emergency command centres)
- create inventory lists of primary equipment, systems and resources
- identify potential vendors and key contacts for emergency repairs and supplies
- design and facilitate emergency response and continuity training exercises
- evaluate and revise continuity plans based on exercise results and ongoing developments
- develop presentations, awareness programs and training manuals.
In times of crisis, business continuity planners:
- lead the implementation of business continuity plans
- set up off-site command and recovery centres if necessary
- co-ordinate recovery efforts
- act as a liaison and co-ordinator with public authorities, emergency workers, external agencies and members of the media
- utilize designated crisis communication protocols for effective flow of information.