Tiny Business Continuity Plans – How and Why to Create Them

This information is from my new book, The Ultimate Business Continuity Success Guide: How to Build Real-World Resilience and Unleash Exciting New Value Streams. Happily it is now Amazon’s #1 searched business continuity book. I hope you enjoy the chapter. and the book.

Business Continuity Tips, Techniques and Secrets

Tiny Business Continuity Plans – How and Why to Create Them

I often asked myself, ‘Why do all business process plans have to be 8 1/2″ x 11″‘?’ I could not come up with a good answer so I began experimenting. In this chapter we look at another approach, ‘How tiny can be beautiful!’

There is definitely a place for large, detailed, wide-scope, well-written corporate crisis management plans 75+ pages at 8 1/2″ x 11″.  They can be critical when managing a crisis at a high level, such as the enterprise, regional or divisional level. Although, in my experience, at the process and sub-process level more can be less and less can be more!

If a disaster conveniently occurs when you are at home or in the office and you have easy access to the large plan that is great. Unfortunately, disasters time themselves when we are travelling, at the movies or running 5k’s – been there, done that! It is uncanny how they occur at such inconvenient times. You may be able to access the digital version of your plan but in certain types of disruptions, such as a power outages, it could be difficult or impossible to get access to it.

For years I sat among the business process owners. The only time I heard an urgency on their part to review their over-sized plans was 30 minutes before a tabletop exercise when they would yell to team members, ‘where the heck is that huge plan we had to create last year?’ Well, more often than not, it was in the corner collecting dust or being used to prop a door open. I decided early in my career to deliver a simpler more streamlined type of plan and it has worked well for process owners though many disruptive events. The paper version of the plan was still 8 1/2″ x 11″ but it worked well.

Here is my ‘take the 8 1/2″ x 11″ streamlined plan to the next level’ idea:

For each business process create the larger, traditional size plan. In addition, create a ‘mini-plan’ which is a tiny, compact, portable plan that people can carry in their pocket or pocket book. These ‘mini-plans’  must include all of the critical information required to respond to and recover a business process and its’ sub- processes. It should be customized with important contact info to reach public agencies, the employee hotline, safety, security, the business continuity team and management.

My’ mini-plan’ is a compact 4″ x 5″ booklet containing checklists, dependencies, recovery info and process tasks… all of the essential information its’ bigger cousin has, but it is a heck of a lot more portable and a heck of a lot cuter!

The little guy should be data driven. Focus on people, location, equipment, systems and importantly tasks! Strip out unnecessary static info. Keep only actionable information.

The ‘mini-plan’ should easily fit in a pocket book or pocket and can even be folded over if necessary to 4″ x 2.5″ and carried in your wallet! I even ran a 5k last year with a tiny plan in my shorts pocket and won my age group! I will bet I am the first person that won a 5k with a business continuity plan in his pocket.

While developing the ‘mini-plan’ I experimented with many other sizes, both smaller and larger, portrait and landscape. The 4″‘x 5″ size seemed ideal so I went with it and I am happy I did. At the time of this writing, I am also having success developing and testing a ‘teeny-tiny-plan’ 1/2 the dimension of the ‘mini-plan’. I will be writing about this in an upcoming issue of the Free Ultimate Business Continuity Tips, Techniques and Tools Newsletter.

Best of all the ‘mini-plan’ prints as a booklet on standard and relatively inexpensive A6 laser paper. Many standard printers can use that size paper.

I give process owners the big cousin for home, office and audit purposes and the little cousin for everywhere else.

I hope the ‘mini-plan’ provides you with an idea you can further develop for your own use.

I hope you enjoyed the information in this chapter. We go into a lot more detail in The Ultimate Continuity Success Guide. In fact, this is only one of 112 chapters packed with 1001 tips, techniques, ideas and those important lessons-learned. Have fun and please contact me with any questions!

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