A business continuity plan outlines the instructions and procedures a business should follow after some disaster. Disruptive events like floods and fires can interrupt your business practices.
It would be best if you had a plan to handle these situations and effectively get back to work.
Give your organization the tools it needs to operate effectively despite any disruptions – you never know when a disaster can strike, but you can be prepared.
How Often Should a Business Continuity Plan Be Reviewed?
Review Your Checklist – Twice a Year: Ensure it is still relevant to your current business processes and status and aligns with your business goals and objectives.
Put It Into Practice – Once a Year: Make sure your plan is solid when implemented.
Formal Review – Every Other Year: Identify any weaknesses or red flags in your plan together with the relevant teams and stakeholders of your business
Comprehensive Review – Every Other Year: Look closely at every aspect and ensure everything is up to date with current business processes.
Mock Recovery Test – Every Two or Three Years: Test your BCP in-depth and ensure your plan works and hasn’t any potential failings
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
A business continuity plan is a document that sets forth your organization’s strategies for dealing with a disaster. These procedures help you to resume business quickly and reduce downtime and lost revenue.
It covers essential processes like asset protection, human resources issues, and how to deal with business partners.
When to Use a Business Continuity Plan?
You want to create a business continuity plan before you need it. The point of this document is to be ahead of the game. You do not want to respond to a disaster without a set plan. Business continuity planning is critical to a successful response to a disaster.
Once your continuity plan is in place, you may need to use it in disasters such as:
- Major Storms
- Major IT or internet disruption
A business continuity plan is as crucial to your company as a business plan.
Different Types of Business Continuity Plans
You can use a business continuity plan template to define how your organization will handle crisis management and communication in an emergency. It’s important to account for emergency response instructions and capture essential information to get your IT resources up and running quickly since they’re crucial in all recovery efforts.
Emergency Response Plan (ERP):
It outlines evacuation procedures, communication protocols, and initial actions to mitigate the immediate impact of emergencies such as fires, explosions, chemical spills, natural disasters, and other life-threatening situations.
Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP):
It covers strategies for backup and recovery of IT systems, data, and technological infrastructure following a disruptive event.
Incident Response Plan (IRP):
It focuses on how the organization will detect, respond to, and recover from cyber incidents, including steps to mitigate damage and prevent further breaches.
Crisis Communication Plan:
It covers how an organization will communicate with internal and external stakeholders during a crisis.
Occupant Emergency Plan (OEP):
It covers evacuation procedures, shelter-in-place protocols, and communication strategies to ensure the safety of employees and visitors within a facility or building.
Supply Chain Continuity Plan:
It outlines strategies to deliver products and services to customers in case of disruptions in the supply chain—such as supplier failures, transportation issues, or resource shortage
How to Write a Business Continuity Plan
Writing your plan can seem daunting, but it does not have to be. You can create your document easily with a free business continuity plan template. You can even use our document builder to build your plan in minutes. Your business continuity plan should include the following:
Step 1 – Purpose of the plan
The plan should address the scope of its effect. Does the plan cover your entire business? Is it for specific departments?
Your employees and managers need to know how this plan will be applied. It should clearly state over whom the policy applies so everyone knows what is expected of them after a disaster.
Step 2 – Identify Key Business Areas
After a disaster, it will be difficult or impossible to go back to normal immediately. Identify the critical aspects of your business.
What are your main revenue-generating products and services, and how would they be impacted if you could not deliver them? What do you need to function? What operations are critical, and what can wait until later?
This section is not about convenience but necessity. Hone in on these critical functions to determine a priority list for your business continuity plan.
Identify the disasters most likely to occur in your area.
Step 3 – Define the Crisis Team
People must know who is in charge during an emergency and their contact information. There should be no doubt about who will call the shots about essential business decisions.
These individuals will lead the local response and may be responsible for a more comprehensive response strategy outside the disaster’s immediate area.
The crisis team should be identified by role and title. This ensures that everyone knows who is in charge if there is a personnel change. Training and letting these key team members know their positions should a disaster occur is critically important.
Ensure you speak with your proposed crisis team about their responsibilities and receive input.
Step 4 – Create a Crisis Communication Plan
In addition to identifying the team in charge, the business continuity plan should outline how individuals communicate. Standard methods of communication may be inaccessible.
To test your processes, it would be best to draft sample emergency messages before a crisis. This could include press releases, interviews, or even social media updates.
Step 5 – Relocation and Recovery Operations
You may need to relocate to an alternative worksite in a natural disaster or business disruption. Include the procedure information and what resources will be required.
Step 6 – Review and Testing
It’s critical to ensure that your business continuity plan is effective and stays up to date. Ensure you include who is in charge of this and how often the plan will be reviewed and tested.
You must practice the procedures once they are adopted. Review and test your business continuity plan at least once a year; some sections, such as the critical functions, could benefit from being evaluated every six months.
Step 7 – Plan Deactivation
You should also include who is responsible for deactivating the business continuity plan and what the procedure is. This ensures that someone can decide to get the company back to normal workings.
Business Continuity Plan Sample
Below you can find a business continuity plan sample to help you start drafting your plan:
Benefits of a Business Continuity Plan
A business continuity plan defines leadership roles in a disaster and focuses on employee and customer safety. It also enables your company to recover more quickly in a disaster.
Here’s a closer look at the significant advantages of writing and maintaining a business continuity plan.
A Well-Defined Leadership Protocol For a Disaster
Senior leadership directs the business continuity plan and sanctions communication protocols for the company. Individual department leaders create continuity plans for IT, security, HR, payroll, legal, and other functions.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to assign a project manager dedicated to maintaining the BCP and setting up training for new and current staff members.
A More Efficient Return to Normal Business Operations
A BCP could differentiate between continued operations and financial disaster in an emergency. Returning to business operations quickly can prevent customers from defecting to competitors.
A business continuity plan template makes planning for contingencies in various scenarios easy and addresses the most critical roles and responsibilities needed to keep your company running.
Above all, having a business continuity plan minimizes downtime and limits confusion during critical situations.
Increased Employee Safety
The BCP should always consider the health and safety of employees above business objectives. Remember that the safety and wellness of loved ones will be at the top of everyone’s minds.
With remote access to key systems, leaders and other team members can balance the needs of their families, coworkers, and customers.
Reduction in Lost Time and Lost Revenue
Unmitigated disruptions can financially weaken an organization quickly. Business continuity plans account for all factors needed for continued operations. The more effort you put into planning, the more time and money you can save.
So, ensure a reliable backup plan for essential IT systems and enable remote access to customer, product, and company data to keep the revenue stream flowing.
Ability to Quickly Implement IT Fixes
Natural and manufactured disasters typically involve system disruptions. To remain functional, build redundancy into your critical systems. This will allow you to implement essential fixes to hardware and software assets.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan?
A disaster recovery plan focuses mainly on restoring IT operations and infrastructure following the disaster. It is more limited in scope but is often part of a larger business continuity plan.
What should be included in a business continuity plan?
A business continuity plan should include key sections like:
- Scope of the plan
- Crisis team
- Communication Strategies
- Relocation and recovery operations
- Review and testing
- Plan deactivation
What are the four P’s of business continuity planning?
There are four P’s you need to keep in mind when creating a business continuity plan, they are:
- People – employees and customers
- Processes – the technology and processes required to keep everything running
- Premises – the buildings and spaces from which your company operates
- Providers – supplies and partners that your business relies on for resources