No matter what type of organization you’re in – whether it’s a social ministry or a congregation – it’s important that you have a plan so that you can continue your work even throughout a major disruption. I think we’re all realizing the importance of planning as we continue to deal with the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we move forward, I want to urge all organizations to consider creating some type of business continuity plan. Think of it as insurance against the unexpected. With a good plan, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you’ll be able to continue serving your mission. If creating your BCP sounds daunting, I recommend breaking it down into four manageable steps: Plan, Do, Check, Act.
Start by asking yourself: “What are the core functions of my organization?”
Think about the things that must happen for your organization to survive. When you look at it through that lens, planning becomes quite easy. For a church, that core function is to minister, which means you need to look at how you continue serving your congregation. A social ministry organization, like a senior living facility, has the critical function of caring for its residents. How do you keep them safe, nourished, and provide the care that they need?
Once you’ve defined your core functions, think about how you continue your work should disaster strike. You don’t need to do this by yourself, nor should you. Form a cross-functional team to help generate ideas and go over your plan. Get somebody from IT, somebody who manages your cash, somebody who is HR-related – anyone who plays a role in your critical business function. You may also want to involve your external auditors. They are very familiar with what a good BCP needs to look like.
Many organizations put a plan in place, but never test to see if it works. Then when there is a crisis they find that it didn’t work the way they thought it would. Portico learned the importance of testing firsthand when the Super Bowl came to town in 2018. We decided to have our employees work remotely that week to avoid the disruptions the event would cause around our offices. It was the perfect time to test remote work – and we quickly learned we weren’t ready.
When we tested remote working during the Super Bowl, we found that we didn’t have enough bandwidth in terms of fiber optics, so we had to purchase more. Learning from that failure was important. When the stay at home order was enacted by the state at the beginning of the pandemic, we knew we had the infrastructure in place to work remotely. If there are barriers that affect your ability to make your plan work, then you’ve got to fix them.
In the vein of “Act,” you also have to be ready to implement your plan. Our BCP provided tremendous clarity when we had to make decisions regarding the pandemic. The plan defined each person’s role. When you know what your role is you’re much better in a crisis because you also know what your role is not.
Start Planning Today
It’s tempting to put off creating a plan to focus on other more pressing priorities, but as the pandemic has taught us, disaster can affect everyone. Having a plan makes responding to disruption much easier and it allows you to continue your mission without unnecessary interruption. Or, as Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”