Feature Article: A business continuity plan should form part of your overall business plan.

Failure to plan is planning to fail

What is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP):

A BCP provides a clear outline of what systems to implement to ensure your RTO continues to operate in the event of a crisis or other disruptive event like a natural disaster. You BCP should also deal with recovery from the disruption and provide steps to return to normal business operations. The plan ensures that your staff and assets are protected and your RTO is able to function quickly in the event of a crisis.  RTOs must understand the processes within their organisation and the potential impact of the loss of these processes over time. Financial, legal, reputational or regulatory losses could be a result of the mishandling of a disruption to business operations. Special consideration should be given to the risk of having your RTO’s “license to operate” withdrawn by a regulator or having sanctions or conditions applied to how you can operate as it can adversely affect your reputation and brand. Your BCP should incorporate your recovery strategy around the allowable downtime for these processes.

Benefits of a BCP

  • Ensures your most critical business functions can continue during a crisis or disruption
  • Ensures your have a way to get your business operations functionally up and running so your RTO can continue to be viable after a crisis or disruption
  • Protects your RTOs reputation and value and increases customer confidence in your brand by being able to handle any incident effectively
  • Minimises the impact of a disruption to your RTOs bottom line
  • Supports your RTOs ability to maintain compliance with regulatory requirements
  • Mitigates business risks particularly for uninsurable events and provides a mechanism in which to comply with insurance policies
  • Builds business resilience and sustainability

Developing your BCP

Use these six steps to develop your RTOs plan:

  1. Identify the scope of the BCP e.g. all RTO operations and locations.
  2. Identify key business areas e.g. HR, ICT etc.
  3. Identify critical functions e.g. payroll, customer service/enrolments, learning and teaching
  4. Identify dependencies between various business areas and functions. e.g. key personnel register, external suppliers
  5. Determine acceptable downtime for each critical process e.g. maximum acceptable outages
  6. Create a plan to maintain operations e.g. key documents and records, ICT systems register, work from home arrangements

Implementing your BCP

Your RTO business continuity plan will form part of your overall business plan. Your BCP should contain all of the information you need to get your RTO up and running again after a crisis or disruptive event. The size and complexity of your BCP will depend on the size of your RTO.  RTO senior management must drive the development and implementation of the BCP; this cannot be delegated to other staff. Management is also critical in ensuring the BCP is communicated to all staff so they are aware of how to respond appropriately in the event of a crisis or disruptive event.



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