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Business Continuity Plan
Business Continuity Planning Process Diagram - Text Version
When business is disrupted, it can cost money. Lost revenues plus extra expenses means reduced profits. Insurance does not cover all costs and cannot replace customers that defect to the competition. A business continuity plan to continue business is essential. Development of a business continuity plan includes four steps:
- Conduct a business impact analysis to identify time-sensitive or critical business functions and processes and the resources that support them.
- Identify, document, and implement to recover critical business functions and processes.
- Organize a business continuity team and compile a business continuity plan to manage a business disruption.
- Conduct training for the business continuity team and testing and exercises to evaluate recovery strategies and the plan.
Information technology (IT) includes many components such as networks, servers, desktop and laptop computers and wireless devices. The ability to run both office productivity and enterprise software is critical. Therefore, recovery strategies for information technology should be developed so technology can be restored in time to meet the needs of the business. Manual workarounds should be part of the IT plan so business can continue while computer systems are being restored.
Resources for Business Continuity Planning
- Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs - National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1600
- Professional Practices for Business Continuity Professionals - DRI International (non-profit business continuity education and certification body)
- Continuity Guidance Circular - Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Open for Business® Toolkit - Institute for Business & Home Safety
Business Continuity Impact Analysis
Business continuity impact analysis identifies the effects resulting from disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.
The Operational & Financial Impacts worksheet can be used to capture this information as discussed in Business Impact Analysis . The worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers with sufficient knowledge of the business. Once all worksheets are completed, the worksheets can be tabulated to summarize:
- the operational and financial impacts resulting from the loss of individual business functions and process
- the point in time when loss of a function or process would result in the identified business impacts
Those functions or processes with the highest potential operational and financial impacts become priorities for restoration. The point in time when a function or process must be recovered, before unacceptable consequences could occur, is often referred to as the “Recovery Time Objective.”
Resource Required to Support Recovery Strategies
Recovery of a critical or time-sensitive process requires resources. The Business Continuity Resource Requirements worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers. Completed worksheets are used to determine the resource requirements for recovery strategies.
Following an incident that disrupts business operations, resources will be needed to carry out recovery strategies and to restore normal business operations. Resources can come from within the business or be provided by third parties. Resources include:
- Office space, furniture and equipment
- Technology (computers, peripherals, communication equipment, software and data)
- Vital records (electronic and hard copy)
- Production facilities, machinery and equipment
- Inventory including raw materials, finished goods and goods in production.
- Utilities (power, natural gas, water, sewer, telephone, internet, wireless)
- Third party services
Since all resources cannot be replaced immediately following a loss, managers should estimate the resources that will be needed in the hours, days and weeks following an incident.
Conducting the Business Continuity Impact Analysis
The worksheets Operational and Financial Impacts and Business Continuity Resource Requirements should be distributed to business process managers along with instructions about the process and how the information will be used. After all managers have completed their worksheets, information should be reviewed. Gaps or inconsistencies should be identified. Meetings with individual managers should be held to clarify information and obtain missing information.
After all worksheets have been completed and validated, the priorities for restoration of business processes should be identified. Primary and dependent resource requirements should also be identified. This information will be used to develop recovery strategies.
If a facility is damaged, production machinery breaks down, a supplier fails to deliver or information technology is disrupted, business is impacted and the financial losses can begin to grow. Recovery strategies are alternate means to restore business operations to a minimum acceptable level following a business disruption and are prioritized by the recovery time objectives (RTO) developed during the business impact analysis .
Recovery strategies require resources including people, facilities, equipment, materials and information technology. An analysis of the resources required to execute recovery strategies should be conducted to identify gaps. For example, if a machine fails but other machines are readily available to make up lost production, then there is no resource gap. However, if all machines are lost due to a flood, and insufficient undamaged inventory is available to meet customer demand until production is restored, production might be made up by machines at another facility—whether owned or contracted.
Strategies may involve contracting with third parties, entering into partnership or reciprocal agreements or displacing other activities within the company. Staff with in-depth knowledge of business functions and processes are in the best position to determine what will work. Possible alternatives should be explored and presented to management for approval and to decide how much to spend.
Depending upon the size of the company and resources available, there may be many recovery strategies that can be explored.
Utilization of other owned or controlled facilities performing similar work is one option. Operations may be relocated to an alternate site - assuming both are not impacted by the same incident. This strategy also assumes that the surviving site has the resources and capacity to assume the work of the impacted site. Prioritization of production or service levels, providing additional staff and resources and other action would be needed if capacity at the second site is inadequate.
Telecommuting is a strategy employed when staff can work from home through remote connectivity. It can be used in combination with other strategies to reduce alternate site requirements. This strategy requires ensuring telecommuters have a suitable home work environment and are equipped with or have access to a computer with required applications and data, peripherals, and a secure broadband connection.
In an emergency, space at another facility can be put to use. Cafeterias, conference rooms and training rooms can be converted to office space or to other uses when needed. Equipping converted space with furnishings, equipment, power, connectivity and other resources would be required to meet the needs of workers.
Partnership or reciprocal agreements can be arranged with other businesses or organizations that can support each other in the event of a disaster. Assuming space is available, issues such as the capacity and connectivity of telecommunications and information technology, protection of privacy and intellectual property, the impacts to each other’s operation and allocating expenses must be addressed. Agreements should be negotiated in writing and documented in the business continuity plan. Periodic review of the agreement is needed to determine if there is a change in the ability of each party to support the other.
There are many vendors that support business continuity and information technology recovery strategies. External suppliers can provide a full business environment including office space and live data centers ready to be occupied. Other options include provision of technology equipped office trailers, replacement machinery and other equipment. The availability and cost of these options can be affected when a regional disaster results in competition for these resources.
There are multiple strategies for recovery of manufacturing operations. Many of these strategies include use of existing owned or leased facilities. Manufacturing strategies include:
- Shifting production from one facility to another
- Increasing manufacturing output at operational facilities
- Retooling production from one item to another
- Prioritization of production—by profit margin or customer relationship
- Maintaining higher raw materials or finished goods inventory
- Reallocating existing inventory, repurchase or buyback of inventory
- Limiting orders (e.g., maximum order size or unit quantity)
- Contracting with third parties
- Purchasing business interruption insurance
There are many factors to consider in manufacturing recovery strategies:
- Will a facility be available when needed?
- How much time will it take to shift production from one product to another?
- How much will it cost to shift production from one product to another?
- How much revenue would be lost when displacing other production?
- How much extra time will it take to receive raw materials or ship finished goods to customers? Will the extra time impact customer relationships?
- Are there any regulations that would restrict shifting production?
- What quality issues could arise if production is shifted or outsourced?
- Are there any long-term consequences associated with a strategy?
Resources for Developing Recovery Strategies
- The Telework Coalition (America’s leading nonprofit telework education and advocacy organization)
Telephones are ringing and customer service staff is busy talking with customers and keying orders into the computer system. The electronic order entry system checks available inventory, processes payments and routes orders to the distribution center for fulfillment. Suddenly the order entry system goes down. What should the customer service staff do now? If the staff is equipped with paper order forms, order processing can continue until the electronic system comes back up and no phone orders will be lost.
The order forms and procedures for using them are examples of “manual workarounds.” These workarounds are recovery strategies for use when information technology resources are not available.
Developing Manual Workarounds
Identify the steps in the automated process - creating a diagram of the process can help. Consider the following aspects of information and work flow:
Internal Interfaces (department, person, activity and resource requirements)
- External Interfaces (company, contact person, activity and resource requirements)
- Tasks (in sequential order)
- Manual intervention points
Create data collection forms to capture information and define processes for manual handling of the information collected. Establish control logs to document transactions and track their progress through the manual system.
Manual workarounds require manual labor, so you may need to reassign staff or bring in temporary assistance.
Last Updated: 05/26/2021
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How to Create or Revise a Business Continuity Plan [Checklist]
Written by Will Aderholt on April 4, 2022
Businesses rarely get advanced notice that a disaster or business interruption is about to strike. That’s why a business continuity plan is vitally important to all businesses.
A business continuity plan is a series of protocols designed to ensure that business operations can continue during a disruptive event.
It typically covers processes and procedures for communicating with employees and clients, recovering lost data, repairing failed systems or technologies and quickly resuming typical business functions.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, few business continuity plans were designed with a global pandemic in mind. In fact, 66% of businesses said they had a business continuity plan in place before the COVID-19 pandemic , but 76% of those businesses said their plan didn’t apply to the challenges they faced as a result of the pandemic, rendering their business continuity plans ineffective.
So how can you create a business continuity plan that accounts for any type of disaster or unforeseen circumstance so that your business is prepared no matter what comes your way?
Business Continuity Planning Overview
Many businesses have a disaster recovery plan and therefore believe they’re equipped for business continuity.
However, disaster recovery plans largely focus on restoring IT infrastructure after a crisis, and they typically don’t address areas such as human resources, sales, marketing and customer relations. Disaster recovery is critical, but it’s just one component of a complete business continuity plan.
Whether the pandemic convinced you to implement a business continuity plan or your current plan needs an update, we’ve outlined a business continuity plan checklist to help you create an effective plan—no matter what business interruption may strike.
A Business Continuity Plan Checklist
Every business is unique, so every business continuity plan should address the specific people, processes and technologies that are essential to the organization.
Still, the following business continuity plan checklist can offer general steps that any company should take to institute crisis-averting measures.
Creating and maintaining a business continuity plan is no small feat, but the process will ensure your organization is safer today and ready for any future disruptions or disasters that may occur.
1. Assess your business processes
Assessing your business’s operations and determining which processes are vulnerable in the event of a disaster is the best start to any business continuity plan checklist. This helps you set the scope of your plan and identify the departments and staff members who need to be involved in creating it and carrying it out.
2. Conduct a business impact analysis
What risks would your company face if any significant disruption were to occur? Consider physical, financial and operational implications of a disaster. Create a list of potential impacts, such as damage to the company’s reputation, loss of sales, regulatory fines, etc. Whenever possible, quantify these risks with a cost.
3. Create prevention strategies
Based on your business impact analysis, detail any preventative measures that can be taken before a disruptive event occurs. This may include identifying remote working solutions and ensuring critical data is on the cloud.
4. Identify critical equipment
In your business continuity plan, specifically identify the equipment necessary to sustain business operations, such as generators, laptops, servers, cell phones, personal protection equipment, facilities, specialized machinery or equipment, emergency medical supplies and more.
Determine whether you can have that equipment at hand or access it quickly from a vendor in the event of a disruption.
5. Determine how to access crucial data
Resuming business operations requires access to essential data, so you must know where and how that data is stored. Consider instituting policies that allow for consistently backing up your data, securing your data and cloud computing.
6. Plan to communicate with employees
In the event of a disruption or disaster, the organization’s leaders must communicate with employees and be transparent about the risks and plans at hand.
Identify in your business continuity plan who will be responsible for messaging, who will be in charge of reaching out to employees and how the organization will contact staff members during different scenarios (email, phone, video conferencing, social media, etc.). Regular, transparent communications in a crisis build trust and motivate employees to remain productive.
7. Plan to communicate with clients and customers
Address how you will distribute information to and collect information from clients during and following a disaster.
In some cases, your customers and clients may be facing the same disruption event. How will you focus on recovering your own operations while also dealing with higher volumes of calls, emails and client needs?
It’s crucial to maintain open lines of communication and keep customers apprised of any impacts on product or service delivery.
8. Provide ongoing training and conduct annual reviews
Any business continuity plan checklist is incomplete without training and reviews.
Once your business continuity plan is complete, make sure all employees have the training they need to carry out the plan. Training should include a basic overview of procedures, as well as exercises to test them out.
At least annually, review your plan to ensure it is still aligned with your current people, processes and technologies.
Go Beyond a Business Continuity Plan Checklist to Create a Course Specific for Your Organization
If you don’t yet have a business continuity plan, now is the time to put one in place. If you already have a plan, don’t forget to test it and continue to think proactively about how you can be better prepared for future uncertainties.
This business continuity plan checklist can only go so far to guide your organization towards creating the right course of action for you. Because business continuity plans are specific to each organization and their financial, physical and operational scenarios, the process of creating one can feel very abstract.
If reviewing this business continuity plan checklist leaves you questioning what your next move should be, Warren Averett’s trusted advisors can help. Contact your Warren Averett advisor today for guidance on the business continuity and disaster recovery planning process, or ask a member of the team to reach out to you .
This article was originally published on August, 25, 2020 and most recently updated on April 4, 2022.
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10 Step Business Continuity Planning Checklist with Sample Template
Home / Security Strategy / 10 Step Business Continuity Planning Checklist with Sample Template
If you don’t have a Business Continuity Plan in place, then your business and data is already in danger. Believing a business will continue to generate profit in the future without putting safeguards in place is a very risky practice. Ignoring the pitfalls can be catastrophic.
Business continuity as a concept is self-explanatory. Yet, it encompasses much more than an organization’s future profitability. It covers all aspects of a business’s longevity, prosperity and success.
In this article, you will learn how to create an effective business continuity plan to protect yo10 Step Business Continuity Planning Checklist with Sample Templateur assets.
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
The definition of business continuity planning refers to the process involved in the creation of a system that prevents penitential threats to a company, also aiding in its recovery.
This plan outlines how assets and personnel will be protected during the event of a disaster, and how to function normally through an event. A BCP should include contingencies for human resources, assets and business processes, and any other aspects that could be affected by downtime or failure. The plan consists of input from all key stakeholders and must be finalized in advance.
A BCP is an essential part of a company’s risk management strategy . It should be updated as technology and hardware/software get updated. These risks usually include natural disasters—weather-related events, flood, fire, or cyber and virtual attacks. Any and every risk that can affect a company’s operations is defined beforehand by the BCP. A typical plan includes:
- Identifying all potential risks
- Determining the effect of the risk on the company’s normal operations
- Implementing procedures and safeguards for risk mitigation
- Testing the procedures to ensure their success
- Constantly reviewing the processes to make sure it’s updated
After an organization assess its risks and identifies them, it needs to follow these steps:
- Understanding how these risks will interfere or affect operations
- Setting up procedures and safeguards that mitigate risks and offer rapid solutions
- Systems on how to test solutions to ensure they work, and scheduling them regularly
- Ensuring that processes are systematically reviewed to make sure they’re up to date
Business Continuity Checklist
A successful business continuity plan is prepared based on the understanding of the impact of a disaster situation on a business. A business continuity checklist includes certain steps, which we have summarized for you below in point form.
Use this step by step guide for preparing your comprehensive preparedness plan. When it comes to disaster recovery strategies, each company will have varying strategies based on geographical locations, the organization’s structure, system, environments, and the severity of the disaster in question.
1. Assemble the Planning Team:
Implementing a BCP plan certainly requires a dedicated team. Teams should be built with hierarchy in mind, with specific roles and recovery tasks assigned to staff members who are accountable for each.
2. Drawing Up the BCP Plan:
Mapping out a strategy is one of the most important components of a business continuity plan. The objectives of the plan should be clearly understood with goals set accordingly. A company should use this opportunity to identify the key processes and the people who will keep it running.
To draw up the plan, companies need to make a list of all the disruptions that could affect a company’s operations. Pinpoint critical functions in everyday business processes and formulate practical recovery strategies for each possible disaster scenario.
3. Conduct Business Impact Analysis:
After identifying all the potential threats, they should be thoroughly analyzed. A proper business impact analysis or BIA should be in place. Extensive lists may need to be prepared, depending on the company’s set up and geographical location.
The list can include floods, hurricanes, fires, volcanoes, and even Tsunamis. Apart from the above natural disasters, others have a much higher probability of occurring. These can include cyberattacks, downtime due to power outages, data corruption, system failures, hardware faults, and other malicious threats to data security.
4. Educate and Train:
Handling business continuity requires knowledge beyond that of IT professionals and those with cybersecurity proficiency. Companies at the upper management level need to layout the objectives, requirements, and key components of the plan before the whole team. Develop a comprehensive training program to help the team develop the required skills.
5. Isolate Sensitive Info:
Every business works with critical data allocated with the topmost security priority. Such data, when compromised or leaked, can spell the end for a company or organization. Data, such as financial records and other mission-critical information such as user login credentials, require storage where recovery is convenient and easy. Store data according to priority based on the importance of the data to the business.
6. Backup Important Data:
Every company has some critical data, which is irreplaceable. Hence, every recovery or backup plan should include creating copies of anything which is not replaceable. In a Managed Service Provider’s (MSP) case, it includes files, data on customer and employee records, business emails, etc. The plan in place should facilitate quick recovery so that businesses can recover tomorrow from any disaster that occurs today.
7. Protect Hard Copy Data:
Electronic or digital data is the main focus of modern IT security strategies. There is still an enormous volume of physical documents that businesses need to maintain daily.
For example, a typical MSP involves working with an assortment of tax documents, contracts, and employee files, which are as important as the data saved on the hard drives. Convert documents that can be digitized to minimize the loss of physical documents.
8. Designate a Recovery Site:
Disasters have the potential to wipe out a company’s data center completely.
Companies should prepare for the worst, by designating a secondary site which would act as a back-up for the primary site. The second site should be equipped with the required tools and systems to recover affected systems to ensure that the business processes continue.
9. Set up a Communications Program:
Communication within the company is vital in times of crisis. Companies should consider drafting sample messages in advance to expedite communications to suppliers and partners in times of crisis.
Business Continuity teams can use a detailed communication plan to coordinate their efforts efficiently.
10. Test, Measure, and Update:
Every important business program should be tested and measured for its effectiveness, and business continuity plans are no exceptions. Testing should include running simulations to test the team’s level of preparedness during a crisis. Based on the results, additional modifications and tweaks can be made.
Download Our Sample Business Continuity Plan Template
DOWNLOAD OUR FREE BCP TEMPLATE!
Benefits of a Business Continuity Plan
A business continuity plan involves identifying and listing out all potential risks and threats a company may face and laying out appropriate policies to mitigate those risks in case of any disaster or crisis. A properly implemented business continuity plan would help any company to remain operational even in the wake of a disaster. Outlined below are some of the greatest advantages of having a business continuity plan in place:
Business Remains Operational During Disaster
Disasters can happen at any time, unannounced. Businesses need to recover from such incidents as quickly as possible to ensure there are no major disruptions in business processes. Business Continuity Plans can help companies remain operational throughout the disaster or the business recovery phase.
Avoid Expensive Downtime:
An Aberdeen Group report indicated that downtime could cost up to $8600 per hour to small scale organizations. If the system is down, businesses lose money, customers, or even their reputation is in danger in certain cases. A proper BCP in place can prevent losing any opportunities during an outage.
Protect Against Different Disasters
Disasters and crises do not always include disasters such as fire, tornadoes, or pandemics, etc. A crisis can also occur from hardware failures, power outages, cybercrimes, and other forms of human error. Thus, companies need to protect themselves not only from natural disasters but from all other forms of outages and downtime. A BCP mitigates these risks.
Gain a Competitive Advantage
In the event of a national or global crisis, a business’s reputation can be bolstered, if it remains up and running while its competitors are down. Clients can look more favorably towards the company as they associate a certain level of reliability with them. Putting a BCP plan in place can help companies stay operational during such times, giving them a clear competitive edge over their competitors.
Giving Assurance to Employees
It is natural for employees to worry if systems are compromised due to a crisis. This situation makes them worry about how and when to proceed with their delegated tasks, negatively affecting the workflow. This scenario is especially true for customer-centric organizations. Having a BCP plan in place for such situations can help prepare a company’s staff on what to do in such situations, and help keep business processes running smoothly. Having a clear action plan can do wonders for employees as it increases the company’s morale and job satisfaction.
Gain Peace of Mind
Having a detailed, tried, and tested BCP in place can alleviate much of management’s worries and stress, helping them to work on other core competencies. Companies can carry on confidently with their operations, knowing that there are measures in place to counter any system outage or downtime. BCP plans are thus critical to a company’s longevity, helping them defend against potential risks while enhancing a company’s reputation.
Stages of Developing a Strong BCP
Business Impact Analysis : You will identify resources and functions that are time-sensitive and need an immediate reaction.
GAP analysis : You need to analyze aspects of your business continuity management system that you currently have and evaluate your IT emergency management system and see how ready and mature it is to face evolving threats.
Improvement planning : This analysis will tell you what you need to work on to help improve the maturity of your Business Continuity Management ( BCM ) and what will help it improve over time.
Recovery : A clear plan needs to be outlined on which steps to take to fully recover critical business functions and get all applications back online smoothly.
Organization : A continuity team should be put in place who will come up with this plan and be responsible for managing all types of disruptions.
Training : The continuity team needs to get regular training and undergo testing, who complete scenarios and exercises that deal with the multitude of threats and disasters your company can face. They should also update and regularly go over the plan and strategies.
Learn more about the differences between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery .
What Does a Business Continuity Plan Typically Include?
It’s critical to have a detailed plan for how to run business operations and maintain them for both the interim and possible longer-term disruptions and outages.
A BCP plan should outline what to do with data backups, equipment and supplies, and backup site locations, and how to reestablish technical productivity and software integrity so that vital business functions can continue. It should give step by step instructions to administrators, which includes all necessary information for backup site providers, key personnel, and emergency responders.
Remember these three keys to creating a successful business continuity plan:
- Disaster recovery : Consolidate a method to recover a data center, possibly at an external site. If the primary site is compromised, it becomes obsolete and inoperable.
- High availability : Ensure the capability of processes are highly available . In case of a local failure, the business can still function with limited access to applications despite the crisis in hardware/software, business processes, or the shutdown of physical facilities.
- Continuity of operations : The main goal is to keep processes and applications running during an outage, and to test them during planned outages. Scheduling backups and planning for maintenance is key to staying active.
Keep up with your competitors! As the Covid-19 crisis has shown, it’s essential to put a Business Continuity Plan in place to defend against every type of disaster using our best practices . Failure to do so can mean financial loss or damage to your company’s reputation. Start preparing, contact us or use our free BCP template to get started today .
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What Is a Business Continuity Plan? What to Expect From the Process
Your business shouldn’t shut down when an emergency hits. But with a thorough business continuity plan template, you can keep your people safe and stay operational through whatever crisis you’re hit with.
- What Is a Business Continuity Plan?
- What to Include in Your BCP
What to Expect from a Business Continuity Template
- 5 Steps to Creating a BCP
Making sure you can protect your employees and operations is a complicated issue, especially the larger and more widespread your business is. Companies like Boeing, with locations in over 70 countries, know this firsthand. The only way to tackle complicated problems is with a plan.
“With such a broad geographic footprint, it really is challenging and difficult to prepare for every single type of outcome out there,” Keith Berthiaume told us on The Employee Safety Podcast . Keith is Enterprise Emergency Preparedness Program Manager at Boeing. “So having a plan that looks at what the impacts are and how we can prepare and respond to those, makes it a lot easier for us to have an enterprise-level response.”
During business-critical events, having a plan for business continuity is imperative to helping emergency response leaders and key stakeholders understand what to do, who to contact, how to respond, or the necessary steps to mitigate the impact. A business continuity plan also helps accelerate response times, bolstering employee safety and protecting the company’s infrastructure.
A well-developed business continuity plan serves as an emergency checklist for all emergency scenarios that might occur. In this post, we discuss what makes for a useful business continuity plan and how you can create your own business continuity plan checklist that fits your organization’s unique needs.
What Is Business Continuity?
Business continuity is your organization’s ability to maintain important business functions during emergencies or disruptions. The processes and procedures put in place through business continuity help to prevent, mitigate, and recover from threats to your operations. This way, you can maintain some level of function even when faced with potentially harmful events.
Often, larger businesses have entire business continuity management (BCM) teams or individuals whose responsibility is to develop processes and procedures. But smaller organizations tend to rely on HR to establish and communicate these protocols. No matter what your industry or size, every organization needs a business continuity plan (BCP) to document how they will protect their people and operations.
What is a business continuity plan (BCP)?
A business continuity plan outlines business processes that will take place before, during, and after an emergency to minimize interruptions and keep things as close as possible to “business as usual.” Business continuity management means spinning a lot of plates at once, and your business continuity plan will help you stay organized and prepared. A robust plan prepares you for all significant events that could endanger your people or interrupt business operations.
Emergencies often lead to interruptions in normal business operations, and these disruptions—large and small—can create long-term issues for human resources, information technology, and other business stakeholders when organizations’ emergency response plans—or those of their providers—are inadequate. They can take people and technologies offline for hours, even days or weeks, during and after an emergency.
“Regardless of the incident type, there are four ways we as a company could be impacted: the loss of our most important resource—which is our people—our buildings, our supply chain, or our IT applications. Most incidents have the potential to impact more than one of these areas, so it’s the protection of these four groups that forms the basis for how we perform business continuity.”
—Keith Berthiaume, Boeing
The nature and impact of interruptions will vary depending on your industry, business locations, number of employees, and exposure to various types of threats. Some of the most common interruptions may include
- Supply chains
- Distribution channels
- Technology operations like power or internet outages, cyberattacks, or data center failures
- Critical machinery or equipment operations
- Employee travel and accessibility to work locations
- Employee accessibility to work-related systems, applications, and data
- Customer accessibility to storefronts, websites, call centers, or customer-facing applications
A business continuity plan is an important component of risk management and emergency response . While the first objective during any crisis is to safeguard employees, the second is to safeguard the business. Planning for an unplanned emergency is critical if you’re going to stay up and running.
What to Include in Your Business Continuity Plan
Your business continuity plan should include all the information necessary to coordinate an effective response to any emergency or crisis event. Typically, a BCP will include each of the following:
- A comprehensive risk assessment
- A business impact analysis for each risk type
- A process for monitoring and detecting relevant threats
- Documented recovery time objectives
- Communication strategy and procedures
#1 Risk assessment
According to Bob Arnold, president of Disaster Recovery Journal, the key to developing a sound business continuity plan is understanding an organization’s potential risks. “Threats come at us more frequently and more violently today,” Bob told us . You may not be able to predict which risks will impact your locations and assets, but you can conduct a business threat assessment to ensure you will be prepared for threats when they inevitably arise.
- People impact: What are the situations that would impact your employees’ ability to work? Which job functions are most critical to your organization’s business continuity?
- Partner impact: Which partners and service providers are you most reliant on?
- Facility impact: What are the scenarios that could cause one or more of your worksites to become unavailable?
- Technology impact: Which systems or tools are used to deliver goods and services to customers? What systems are used to communicate and coordinate internally?
- Brand/reputation impact: What is the impact on your brand should your business no longer operate normally?
Specific threats will vary from organization to organization based on their geographical location and surroundings. However, most companies can perform a business continuity risk assessment for common scenarios such as
- Severe weather
- Workplace and structural fires
- Power and IT outages
- Pandemics and other health crises
- Physical threats from individuals
- Cybersecurity threats from inside and outside of the organization
- Natural disasters
By taking stock of historical events and most likely-to-occur scenarios, organizations can begin to develop an ongoing list of potential threats. This list will evolve as the company grows its employee base, the number and locations of additional sites, the locations where employees may travel for business, and its fleet/equipment/technology assets. Keeping this list fresh and adjusting the plan accordingly is a must.
#2. Business impact analysis
Once you complete the threat assessment, conduct a business impact analysis (BIA) to determine how each of these threats could influence the business. The goal of a BIA is to predict consequences of various types of disruptions and their impact on personnel and critical business functions. You can then use this information to develop effective recovery strategies to mitigate risks and improve outcomes.
Any business disruption can have a detrimental operational and financial impact. These may include lost and/or delayed sales and income, delays in manufacturing or development, an inability to deliver goods or meet contractual agreements, increased expenses, customer dissatisfaction, and even regulatory fines.
Of course, the impact will depend greatly on the duration and timing of the disruption. A two-hour power outage will have less impact than a two-day work stoppage resulting from a hurricane. A fire in a remote and partially empty warehouse will be less of an interruption than a fire in an active manufacturing facility. By analyzing different possible scenarios, an organization can be better prepared to handle the emergency and bring operations back online more rapidly. Reevaluate this analysis regularly as new threats arise.
#3. Threat monitoring and detection
Once you’ve identified potential threats, you need a way to effectively monitor and assess critical events near your people and assets so you can react immediately. Monitoring events before they strike is critical to protecting your people and brand. It allows you to recognize and to predict critical situations before they happen—giving you the benefit of alerting and organizing your audience in advance.
Companies like Whataburger use threat intelligence solutions to keep an eye on threats for their thousands of locations, a feat that would be next to impossible for their small team. Automatic threat monitoring allows business continuity teams to focus on response and mitigation while trusting that they will be notified immediately about any detected threats.
Learn more about how Whataburger protects its people and business during critical events with AlertMedia.
#4. Recovery time objective
Once your risks have been identified and you’ve established a process for both identification and monitoring, it’s time to set goals. Your recovery plan outlines how to get your business back to normal as quickly as possible, and a recovery timeline is a part of that plan.
Establishing a recovery time objective (RTO)—the maximum acceptable time until the business is up and running following a crisis event—is a critical component of any BCP to ensure your response plans sufficiently protect the organization against long-term damages, including data loss, financial penalties, and more. This information will also have a direct impact on crisis management, risk mitigation, and communication strategy and how you prioritize response efforts.
You can also include your assigned recovery team in your plan to clarify the responsibility and ownership of the RTO. This team will be made up of personnel responsible for coordinating, communicating, and managing employees and stakeholders during an emergency or business interruption.
#5. Communication strategy
A business continuity program should have at its foundation a solid emergency communication strategy . In times of crises and critical events, communication is a lifeline. Being able to relay information and instructions to employees and other business partners will help your people stay calm and guide them to the appropriate behavior. While some employees will only need to keep themselves safe, others may be designated as part of a skeleton crew who will be responsible for operating and/or maintaining the business and its vital functions.
Your emergency management and business continuity teams should designate specific individuals accountable for emergency communication, as well as at least one level of backup per function, and train them accordingly. These employees will become the most important contacts during and after an emergency and will require multiple channels for communication.
Additionally, the types of communication channels are equally as critical as the communications themselves. Using an emergency communication system will help ensure notifications and alerts are sent across multiple channels simultaneously so that every employee receives the message intended for them. Remember: During an emergency, IT infrastructure may be compromised, or computer systems may be inaccessible, so you should plan on using all available channels to communicate with critical personnel. Your system should also enable two-way communication so you can confirm whether messages were received while allowing employees to confirm their safety and contribute valuable information to help reduce downtime.
These channels may include
- Text message
- Mobile app push notification
- Social media posts
- Slack/Team message
- Intranet site alert
- Desktop alert
In today’s mobile culture, this multi-modal approach is the only way to ensure the affected employees receive the messages quickly, in real-time, and on the devices they are most likely to have with them. It would be completely ineffective, for instance, to send an emergency email to every employee when a portion of employees are field workers with no access to email. According to Michelle Schutte , Managing Director of Business Continuity and Incident Management at Charles Schwab, you also need to have a method of communication that is based on urgency. “You need something that really captures someone’s attention and makes them click it to go away,” said Schutte. Urgent communications shouldn’t be sent via regular, day-to-day methods such as email.
You can use our business continuity plan template to streamline your planning. Here are some of the helpful elements you can line up to ensure a fast and effective response.
Roles and responsibilities — Establish a chain of command so everyone knows who to turn to when a critical decision needs to be made. Be sure to include departments beyond the crisis team members, including internal communications, IT, and any executives who may need to communicate important information to employees and other stakeholders. Don’t forget to outline secondary contacts as well in case primary stakeholders become unavailable.
Emergency contact information — Make sure to have phone numbers readily available for staff as well as local police and fire departments, utility companies, and any other external organizations that may be able to help in the event of a threat. An emergency communication system capable of integrating with your HRIS can also help ensure this information is regularly updated and reflects employees’ current information.
Backup plan — Nearly all businesses today use computers to complete daily tasks, so a loss of those systems could mean devastation. For that reason, perform regular backups of all your computer systems and make copies of critical information either to a remote location or server. Once you back it up, make sure you also record details of how to access it. Other considerations for contingency planning include
- Backup power: Consider keeping backup generators on hand in the event of a power outage so you can get your electrical systems or computers back up and running quickly.
- Alternate operations site: Set up a second physical location where business operations can still be conducted if you lose access to your headquarters. This alternate site should include all the same tools and systems needed to continue work as planned, as well as equipment to recover the primary site.
- Essential equipment and services: Essentials include access to email, web servers, data backup sites, and any other tools your day-to-day operations require. Consider the applications and vendors you depend on, and make sure you’ll still be able to use them should an incident occur.
5 Steps to Creating a Business Continuity Plan
JetBlue Airways’ 22,000 employees serve millions of customers across 26 countries. The company’s business continuity plans include dozens of possible threat scenarios, ranging from severe weather to fleets getting grounded to acts of terrorism.
Not every organization will face the same threats as JetBlue, but Penny Neferis, Director of Business Continuity and Disaster Response at the airline, takes an approach to business continuity that offers a good example for how every organization should handle a crisis.
Here are the steps she laid out for building your business continuity plan. You can follow these steps on your own or make it a little easier on yourself by using a business continuity plan template and looking through examples to base your plan off of.
Step #1: Create your team
The first step to developing a business continuity plan involves determining who will be responsible for updating and executing the plan. Business continuity and disaster recovery warrants its own team; however, the team should consider which other departments will be vital to recovery.
According to Penny, “Our small-but-mighty disaster response team [can] only work so long, and we had to learn to count on other groups to step in and help. Our teams are robust, but we felt ownership to take all emergency responses on our shoulders in the past.”
Assign one person the sole responsibility for taking charge, but assign additional recovery tasks to a variety of people across each unit of the business to guarantee no department gets left behind. True resilience management integrates various teams’ experience and awareness to ensure each strategy is as strong as it can be.
Step #2: Conduct your business impact analysis
According to Ready.gov, a business impact analysis “predicts the consequences of disruption of a business function and process, and gathers information needed to develop recovery strategies.” While similar to the threat analysis mentioned above, a BIA views threats from a cost perspective and outlines the total time it would take to recover an organization’s most important functions—including dependencies, such as people and communities. Emergencies often extend beyond the borders of an organization.
“When a crisis does happen, we look at it from three different lenses,” said Penny. “What impact does this have on our staff and crew members? What impact does this have on our customers, and what impact does this have on our community?”
Step #3: Map out your plan
Now that you have your team and you understand each threat’s impact to your business, you need to actually map out a strategy for how to keep your business running—easily the most important component of a business continuity plan. Make a list of the most critical functions to your organization as well as the disruptions that could hinder them, and develop practical recovery strategies for each scenario. Consider various “what ifs” to instill confidence among your team that they’ll be able to respond no matter the situation.
Step #4: Train and educate
You’ve completed your plan, and now you need to train your staff on it. Conduct tabletop exercises and emergency drills so everyone knows the role they will play should a disaster occur. The more “real” the event feels, the better prepared employees will be. Include key personnel and first responders, and use these training sessions to identify missing aspects or weaknesses in your plan. Keep reading for some additional tips on practice and implantation of your business continuity plan.
Step #5: Analyze and update as new threats are identified
The threat landscape evolves constantly, with new risks to business operations occurring every year. Before 2020, few organizations probably expected they would be dealing with an ongoing global pandemic, but they quickly learned to adapt. Business continuity requires both immediate and ongoing attention, and plans should be frequently analyzed and updated based on recent events and predictions.
For instance, we know severe weather and the effects of climate change will continue to be an ongoing threat to businesses across the globe, but we are seeing significant changes in how weather threats crop up. Our 2023 Threat Outlook Report breaks down changes in where weather events occur and longer seasons that may require shifts in your business continuity plan around weather threats.
Maintaining a Living Document
Your business continuity plan and BCP checklist shouldn’t be a single line-item task that you mark off and never look at again. These documents work best if they are integrated consistently through your yearly safety planning, so you can keep them updated with any necessary changes, and so your team keeps the processes top of mind. Here are a few tips for keeping your BCP a central piece of your broader safety culture.
Practice makes perfect
No emergency plan is complete without practice. This philosophy holds true for the business continuity plan. Every person in the company should have a solid understanding of business processes and what they are to do in case of specific incidents (such as a cyberattack) or general emergencies (such as fires, severe weather, workplace injuries, etc.). The designated skeleton crew needs to be clear on their roles and responsibilities, and exactly what, when, and how the business continuity plans will be triggered.
There are three basic steps in implementing both a disaster recovery plan and BCP. Not all employees will be involved in both, but all should have at least a general understanding of what will happen when the emergency plan is activated and which critical business functions will be prioritized. All employees should also have a current contact list of all of those who will be in authority during an emergency.
Before a company initiates a drill, it is a good idea to gather key stakeholders and decision-makers together to carefully and methodically evaluate the emergency and business continuity plans. Review each step with a critical eye to ensure nothing was missed and every area of the business is represented.
Once the plans are considered complete, it’s time to educate employees. Depending on how dispersed your employees are, you may choose to conduct on-site training sessions, tabletop exercises , or develop an on-demand training curriculum that employees can watch on their own time. Because the goal is to obtain 100% participation, design a measurement tool that can provide a current list of employees who have and have not watched the webinar.
The next step is to practice what was learned. Scheduling regular full emergency evacuation drills is recommended. The more “real” the event appears, meaning key personnel and first responders participate, the better-prepared employees will be should an actual critical event occur.
Those responsible for triggering the emergency plan and those involved in the skeleton crew should walk through their respective roles during a critical event. Role-playing is a successful tool that first responders often use themselves to ensure no step is missed. This role-playing will also give the organization valuable insight into how the plan actually works in a “real-life” scenario. Often, a plan will look comprehensive on paper but when it is practiced, weaknesses appear.
If possible, ask partners, vendors, and anyone who may be impacted by your company’s potential business interruption to be a part of the drill. They may be able to identify gaps in planning and provide additional “what if” scenarios.
Assess the success
Practicing the plan is not the end of the process. In fact, it simply provides a lens into how well (or not) the plan performed. You can gather valuable intelligence from each practiced drill and from the people involved. From the business leaders and skeleton crew to the employees who were impacted, it is important to gather feedback from every angle.
Questions to Ask
- Did every employee in every location know what to do?
- Was there any confusion, chaos, or panic during the drill?
- Were the emergency communications delivered across multiple channels simultaneously?
- What were the open rates for each mode of communication?
- Did the message communicated provide the proper level of information with instructions on where to find additional information?
- Were employees able to respond with two-way communication?
- How long did it take to trigger the business continuity plan?
- Was the designated skeleton crew able to keep operations going?
Of course, there could be any number of additional questions; These are just a guide, but be sure to include the opinions and experiences of employees. Their perception of how well the drill was orchestrated is as important as the actual results. The goal is not only to protect the employees but also to give them peace of mind that in virtually any situation, their company has their backs. Their perception is their reality and should be taken seriously.
All the information you gathered in your questions can be used on its own or through an after-action report to make improvements to your plan and your process, so that the next drill, and the real response, are as effective and smooth as possible. By bringing people together at least annually to review the current plan, evaluate alternative available technologies, and assess potential new threats, your organization will be better prepared for any situation. Planning is never a one-time event. It is ongoing and always has room for improvement. Be sure you have business continuity management processes in place to keep it at the forefront of your annual planning.
At the end of the day, an effective business continuity plan must be fluid. But perhaps more importantly, it must also be consistent. Events will never happen exactly as you plan, but by remaining vigilant, you’ll steer clear of “deer in the headlights” syndrome and be prepared for any new challenges that may come your way.
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- Business Continuity Plan
Business Continuity Plan Template
Prepare for business disruption and disaster recovery.
Published 15 Feb 2023
What is a Business Continuity Plan Template?
A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) template is a tool used by business continuity managers and IT teams to outline strategies for keeping businesses operational despite emergencies such as extreme weather events, building evacuations, power outages, etc. It identifies high business impact operational areas, assets, and recovery strategies with assigned personnel.
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Use this Business Continuity Plan (BCP) template as an outline for your business continuity plan that will critically assess all aspects of the business and make sure the emergency procedures and equipment are adequate. This business continuity template can help with ISO 22301 compliance and allow business continuity managers and consultants to:
- Identify key business functions and components to be prioritized for restoration and recovery during an emergency.
- Add list of processes/equipment most at risk of disrupting business operations.
- Discuss roles and responsibilities of key personnel and gather confirmation (digital signatures).
Click on the Web or PDF report below to view the business continuity plan example.
- Preview Sample Digital Report
- Preview Sample PDF Report
Business continuity templates can be used in any industry for IT disaster recovery, continuity of customer-facing operations, and backup of transport & logistics operations.
In this article
7 elements of business continuity planning, components of a bcp template with examples, faqs about bcp, how do you write a business continuity plan with safetyculture (formerly iauditor), featured business continuity plan templates.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, the economy took a massive hit. The need for a business continuity plan became more apparent to organizations. Business continuity planning enables businesses, small or large, to build a more resilient operation.
A Business Continuity Plan should include:
1. BCP Team
In the midst of a disaster or emergency, having a team or point person to go to will be essential. The BCP team will be responsible for planning and testing business continuity strategies. Background of each member in the BCP team can vary from organization managers or supervisors to specialists.
2. Business Impact Analysis
A business impact analysis (BIA) identifies, quantifies, and qualifies the impact of a loss, interruption, or disruption. Having a BIA will be essential in discovering risks that your business is exposed to and the potential disruptions that may occur.
3. Risk Mitigation
This element pertains to the strategies against the risks that were discovered during the BIA. Risk mitigation strategies may include putting up security and safety systems in the workplace, conducting preventive maintenance of vehicles, machines, equipment, or any asset vital to operations, and training of employees, among others.
4. Business Continuity Strategies
A good business continuity plan should establish strategies or alternate practices to keep the business running despite disruptions or disasters. An example of a continuity strategy that a lot of businesses had to implement during the pandemic was remote working or work-from-home. This enabled businesses to continue their operations and keep their employees safe from contracting COVID-19 in the workplace.
5. Business Continuity Plan
The business continuity plan is a combination of findings from the performed BIA and the recovery strategies established by the organization. A BCP plan typically includes 4 key components: scope & objectives, operations at risk, recovery strategy, and roles and responsibilities.
All relevant personnel associated with the business continuity, disaster recovery, and incident response process should be trained according to the BCP plan that’s established and agreed upon.
In the testing phase, strategies and plans are being rehearsed or exercised to demonstrate its effectiveness. Testing the plan before rolling it out will enable the BCP team to discover potential flaws and fix them before they lead to damage or injury. It is recommended to review and test the plan periodically to ensure that all protocols and strategies are up-to-date.
Business Continuity Plan Template | Preview Sample PDF Report
BCP serves as a guide for organizations on creating an effective strategy for responding to potential business-disrupting events. Here are four key components of a BCP:
Scope & Objectives
States the purpose of the BCP, including specific business functions that should be prioritized for recovery during an emergency. This section should include examples of emergency events that would trigger the response of this BCP.
This BCP is to ensure the continuity of IT services and customer lines in the event of an unforeseen and prolonged power shutdown. Power disruption could be caused by emergency weather conditions or a building fire. Functional areas that are prioritized for recovery in this BCP include the customer support desk and finance team.
Operations at Risk
Includes possible risks with key operational functions which would greatly disrupt business and customer continuity. This also involves the magnitude of risk to each function, which will help the BCP committee decide on appropriate preventive actions.
Operation: Customer Support Operation Description: Customer support team looking after 24-hour global operations of live chat and customer calls for US, EMEA and APAC regions Business Impact: Critical Impact description: 100% of live chats go through the customer support team in Manila. 20% of live calls are routed to Manila office. A disruption would mean no more live chat support and customers experiencing significant wait times on calls Project timeline and team schedules
Outlines all the relevant procedures to restore business operations after an incident or crisis. A good recovery strategy includes a realistic recovery timeline and essential emergency resources.
IT personnel and BCP committees should operate alternate backup programs and servers to help save customer requests after power outage. Customer support should be able to receive the requests and respond to customers within 30 minutes. IT Director should operate alternate server rooms in Area B if the power outage last more than an hour to prevent huge revenue loss.
Roles & Responsibilities
Refers to key personnel and their assigned tasks during or after an incident. Each committee member has a unique set of responsibilities to successfully carry out the BCP for each business function.
Representative: Jon Sims Role: Head of Operations Contact Details: [email protected] Description of Responsibilities: 1. Must ensure BCPs are updated and must coordinate with team leaders regarding changes 2. Helps notify key stakeholders in EMEA region of threats in Customer Support programs & tools
Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is important because it helps organizations protect their business amid a crisis or emergency. A business continuity plan contains instructions that will serve as a guide for the organization to maintain their operations.
A business continuity plan should be tested at least every 6 months to verify the BCP’s effectiveness. Frequent testing can also allow the discovery of gaps, and potential issues. This will help the organization update protocols and strategies accordingly.
BCP documents should be updated regularly. If any organizational changes have been made in terms of team structures and operational procedures, the BCP should be updated. A review will be conducted to check if information in the BCP is still reliable. .
Outdated BCPs might result in loss of customer trust, huge revenue loss, and damage to brand and company reputation. This is why it is crucial for BCPs to remain up-to-date.
Regular BCP audits are essential to help evaluate emergency procedures and identify if there are vulnerabilities. They also help realign emergency procedures to the ISO 22301 standard, business goals, and industry practices. Up-to-date and efficient BCPs help businesses effectively manage any unexpected event, prevent extra costs, and continuously develop their overall processes and key functions. Using a business continuity plan checklist can aid business continuity managers and IT teams to ensure comprehensive BCP audit reports.
SafetyCulture , the world’s leading digital form mobile software, can help businesses create and prepare a good business continuity plan more efficiently. Paper-based business continuity plan templates and Excel spreadsheets can be troublesome for management to keep and regularly update. With SafetyCulture as a business continuity software , businesses can switch to a paperless planning process where you can create your own templates, easily assess the accuracy of recovery procedures, and update your plans as needed in your mobile device. With SafetyCulture, you can:
- Create and customize business continuity plans using your desktop, iPad, or even on your mobile phone
- Easily assign tasks to key personnel and BCP committee members
- Use speech to text dictation to easily complete audits
- Gather photographic evidence in your BCP drills
- Record electronic signatures as required
- Send and share an updated business continuity plan report to your team in a few taps. See sample business continuity plan PDF report here .
- Automatically save your BCPs in the cloud
To help you get started on your paperless planning, we have created the business continuity templates and checklists you can download and customize for free.
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan Template (IT)
A business continuity and disaster recovery plan template is used to identify business functions at risk during an emergency and come up with a plan for continuous operation and recovery. This business continuity and disaster recovery plan template aims to help IT teams and business continuity managers become proactive in preparing for events that could disrupt operations and come up with strategies for disaster recovery. This template empowers you to:
- Specify and prioritize IT functions for recovery during a disaster.
- Describe IT equipment/ systems at risk in disrupting normal operations and essential backup programs needed for recovery.
- Confirm assigned tasks with IT team members through their digital signatures.
Business Continuity Plan Checklist
Perform regular audits of your organization’s BCP with a business continuity plan checklist. Whether small or medium business, this checklist can be used to ensure BCPs are up to date and reflect current high impact operations. Review key operational functions outlined in the BCP including recovery strategies and relevant assigned resources. SafetyCulture (iAuditor) BCP templates can be edited to fit the organization’s needs.
- Download PDF Report
Business Continuity Awareness Checklist
This template highlights the importance of employee awareness and employee knowledge of business continuity plans and business continuity processes. As a business continuity process template, this document helps:
- Gauge the level of understanding employees have regarding BCP processes.
- Determine opportunities how to better acclimate teams to internal business continuity plans.
- Identify the need for continuous improvement of business continuity programs.
SafetyCulture staff writer
Erick Brent Francisco
Erick Brent Francisco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. As a content specialist, he is interested in learning and sharing how technology can improve work processes and workplace safety. His experience in logistics, banking and financial services, and retail helps enrich the quality of information in his articles.
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A business continuity plan to continue business is essential. Development of a business continuity plan includes four steps: Conduct a business impact analysis to identify time-sensitive or critical business functions and processes and the resources that support them.
A Business Continuity Plan Checklist. Every business is unique, so every business continuity plan should address the specific people, processes and technologies that are essential to the organization. Still, the following business continuity plan checklist can offer general steps that any company should take to institute crisis-averting measures.
A business continuity plan involves identifying and listing out all potential risks and threats a company may face and laying out appropriate policies to mitigate those risks in case of any disaster or crisis. A properly implemented business continuity plan would help any company to remain operational even in the wake of a disaster.
Business continuity is your organization’s ability to maintain important business functions during emergencies or disruptions. The processes and procedures put in place through business continuity help to prevent, mitigate, and recover from threats to your operations.
The business continuity plan is a combination of findings from the performed BIA and the recovery strategies established by the organization. A BCP plan typically includes 4 key components: scope & objectives, operations at risk, recovery strategy, and roles and responsibilities. 6. Training