A solid business continuity plan is a great start to help you recover in the face of a major incident. But have you considered what happens when there are “No 3rd Party Vendors?” It’s time to check that they have plans in place.
Why Audit Your Vendors?
A key piece of every business continuity plan is having an up-to-date list of those critical vendors you depend on. When bad things happen, you may need to call upon them to expedite or suspend services or provide a whole new service. If your vendors are not prepared with their own plan, they will not able to respond when you need them most.
Additionally, while operations might be running smoothly for you, disaster striking an unprepared vendor can cause a disaster for you. That hosted solution you decided to go with is only as reliable as the vendor providing it. When the vendor has issues, that will create an issue for you too. We all like to get raw materials for the best price available. However, if that price means the vendor has not invested in any business continuity efforts, you may be paying a much bigger price in the long run. No raw materials can result in your manufacturing shut down, unhappy customers, service level agreements breached, penalties paid, and revenue lost.
How to Know if Your Vendors Are Prepared
There are a number of strategies available to evaluate the preparation of your vendors. Some companies request a copy of their vendors’ business continuity plans. While this ensures that the plan actually exists, due to the removal of proprietary information, the plan you receive may look a little sparse. Once you get the plan, you then need to read it and determine whether the plan ticks all the boxes of what makes a business continuity plan complete. However, even if the plan contains all the elements you’re looking for, there’s more to it. Are their staff aware of the plan and do they understand their roles? Do they receive training? Has the plan been exercised? Has senior management approved the plan? The list goes on.
An alternate approach is to send a questionnaire to your vendors. A combination of closed and open-ended questions gives a good sense of whether your vendor is prepared. Sure, you can ask if they exercise their plan annually, but even more useful is asking how they’ve used their exercising results to improve their business continuity plan. Instead of asking if their staff is aware of the plan, ask how they ensure their staff is aware of the plan. With some carefully crafted questions, you’ll know if your vendor is prepared and gives business continuity sufficient priority.
A Ready-Made Vendor Questionnaire
If you would rather not re-invent the wheel when it comes to developing your own vendor questionnaire, KingsBridge has developed a list of vendor questions for you to use. Download your copy of the Vendor BCP Questions here.
About KingsBridge: KingsBridgeBCP offers businesses of all sizes BCP Software Solutions and industry know how based on best practices, helping to build, exercise, and maintain Business Continuity Plans.