Business continuity planning

About business continuity planning 

Business continuity is having a plan to deal with difficult situations, such as a disaster so that you can continue operating with as little disruption as possible. Continuing to operate during and after a disaster is critical to the survival and recovery of your residents and community members. Having a strong community institution still operating makes a significant difference in giving survivors some stability in a challenging situation.  

While they are not required, there are many benefits to having a Business Continuity Plan, including:

  • reduced impacts on your building, residents, and services, 

  • reduced ongoing operating costs by increasing efficiency of water and energy, 

  • potentially reduced insurance costs (discuss with your broker), and 

  • better quality of life for your tenants and community members and alleviate worries about what might happen during a disaster, 

Enterprise’s Business Continuity Toolkit for Affordable Housing Organizations will walk you through every step of the process. The tool is free to use, takes around four weeks to implement fully, and can provide you with the confidence to manage risks and hazards. It is based on the Incident Command System, a disaster management structure that uses models from California Fire first responder agencies.  While this guidance is specifically for affordable housing organizations, other community-based organizations will also find it useful in preparing to continue operations during and after a disaster. 

Disasters of all kinds are very likely, and having a plan in place to serve your community in any scenario will save lives and increase the chances of long-term recovery.  

State and local governments create similar plans, but they are called Emergency Operations Plans, and they have more information about how they will serve all residents. Read more about Emergency Operations Plans

Impacts on frontline communities  

Without a plan, any community will be worse off during a disaster. Frontline community members may need additional support during a crisis than higher-income better-resourced communities.  Attaining continuity for small and local businesses and institutions that serve frontline communities is thus even more important.   

Businesses are key parts of community life. People rely on them for goods, services, and community spaces. When they don’t withstand the disaster, it’s another challenge for community members to manage and add additional trauma.  Businesses run by frontline communities might not have the resources or extra energy to engage in business continuity planning, which leaves them more at risk than other businesses.  

Actions to take 

For individuals  

  • For any organization you’re in, ask if they have a Continuity Plan.  Offer to support the process of creating a plan if you can. 

For community-based organizations and affordable housing providers 

  • Use the Enterprise Business Continuity Plan Tool to create and practice your plan.   

  • Connect with your local Office of Emergency Services for resources and support on continuity planning.  

  • Ensure the businesses in your community have access to a continuity planning tool and develop a plan to attain continuity of service during a disaster. Share the Enterprise Business Continuity Plan Tool with other organizations in your network if you think it can help them. 

For local government 

  • Create and practice your agency plan and encourage other agencies to develop plans. Practice your plans together! 

  • Support community organizations in creating and practicing their plans. 

For philanthropy 

  • Create and practice your plan! It’s important that you be able to continue working and serving during and after a disaster, too. 

  • Offer to support continuity planning for organizations serving frontline communities. Consider funding organizations to do this work. 

  • Fund a contractor or technical assistance provider to support multiple community entities such as affordable housing organizations, faith-based institutions, and other community groups to put continuity plans in place.