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The Bottom Line
What is a business continuity plan (bcp), and how does it work.
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What Is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)?
A business continuity plan (BCP) is a system of prevention and recovery from potential threats to a company. The plan ensures that personnel and assets are protected and are able to function quickly in the event of a disaster.
- Business continuity plans (BCPs) are prevention and recovery systems for potential threats, such as natural disasters or cyber-attacks.
- BCP is designed to protect personnel and assets and make sure they can function quickly when disaster strikes.
- BCPs should be tested to ensure there are no weaknesses, which can be identified and corrected.
Understanding Business Continuity Plans (BCPs)
BCP involves defining any and all risks that can affect the company's operations, making it an important part of the organization's risk management strategy. Risks may include natural disasters—fire, flood, or weather-related events—and cyber-attacks . Once the risks are identified, the plan should also include:
- Determining how those risks will affect operations
- Implementing safeguards and procedures to mitigate the risks
- Testing procedures to ensure they work
- Reviewing the process to make sure that it is up to date
BCPs are an important part of any business. Threats and disruptions mean a loss of revenue and higher costs, which leads to a drop in profitability. And businesses can't rely on insurance alone because it doesn't cover all the costs and the customers who move to the competition. It is generally conceived in advance and involves input from key stakeholders and personnel.
Business impact analysis, recovery, organization, and training are all steps corporations need to follow when creating a Business Continuity Plan.
Benefits of a Business Continuity Plan
Businesses are prone to a host of disasters that vary in degree from minor to catastrophic. Business continuity planning is typically meant to help a company continue operating in the event of major disasters such as fires. BCPs are different from a disaster recovery plan, which focuses on the recovery of a company's IT system after a crisis.
Consider a finance company based in a major city. It may put a BCP in place by taking steps including backing up its computer and client files offsite. If something were to happen to the company's corporate office, its satellite offices would still have access to important information.
An important point to note is that BCP may not be as effective if a large portion of the population is affected, as in the case of a disease outbreak. Nonetheless, BCPs can improve risk management—preventing disruptions from spreading. They can also help mitigate downtime of networks or technology, saving the company money.
How to Create a Business Continuity Plan
There are several steps many companies must follow to develop a solid BCP. They include:
- Business Impact Analysis : Here, the business will identify functions and related resources that are time-sensitive. (More on this below.)
- Recovery : In this portion, the business must identify and implement steps to recover critical business functions.
- Organization : A continuity team must be created. This team will devise a plan to manage the disruption.
- Training : The continuity team must be trained and tested. Members of the team should also complete exercises that go over the plan and strategies.
Companies may also find it useful to come up with a checklist that includes key details such as emergency contact information, a list of resources the continuity team may need, where backup data and other required information are housed or stored, and other important personnel.
Along with testing the continuity team, the company should also test the BCP itself. It should be tested several times to ensure it can be applied to many different risk scenarios . This will help identify any weaknesses in the plan which can then be identified and corrected.
In order for a business continuity plan to be successful, all employees—even those who aren't on the continuity team—must be aware of the plan.
Business Continuity Impact Analysis
An important part of developing a BCP is a business continuity impact analysis. It identifies the effects of disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses the information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.
FEMA provides an operational and financial impact worksheet to help run a business continuity analysis. The worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers who are well acquainted with the business. These worksheets will summarize the following:
- The impacts—both financial and operational—that stem from the loss of individual business functions and process
- Identifying when the loss of a function or process would result in the identified business impacts
Completing the analysis can help companies identify and prioritize the processes that have the most impact on the business's financial and operational functions. The point at which they must be recovered is generally known as the “recovery time objective.”
Business Continuity Plan vs. Disaster Recovery Plan
BCPs and disaster recovery plans are similar in nature, the latter focuses on technology and information technology (IT) infrastructure. BCPs are more encompassing—focusing on the entire organization, such as customer service and supply chain.
BCPs focus on reducing overall costs or losses, while disaster recovery plans look only at technology downtimes and related costs. Disaster recovery plans tend to involve only IT personnel—which create and manage the policy. However, BCPs tend to have more personnel trained on the potential processes.
Why Is Business Continuity Plan (BCP) Important?
Businesses are prone to a host of disasters that vary in degree from minor to catastrophic and business continuity plans (BCPs) are an important part of any business. BCP is typically meant to help a company continue operating in the event of threats and disruptions. This could result in a loss of revenue and higher costs, which leads to a drop in profitability. And businesses can't rely on insurance alone because it doesn't cover all the costs and the customers who move to the competition.
What Should a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) Include?
Business continuity plans involve identifying any and all risks that can affect the company's operations. The plan should also determine how those risks will affect operations and implement safeguards and procedures to mitigate the risks. There should also be testing procedures to ensure these safeguards and procedures work. Finally, there should be a review process to make sure that the plan is up to date.
What Is Business Continuity Impact Analysis?
An important part of developing a BCP is a business continuity impact analysis which identifies the effects of disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses the information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.
FEMA provides an operational and financial impact worksheet to help run a business continuity analysis.
These worksheets summarize the impacts—both financial and operational—that stem from the loss of individual business functions and processes. They also identify when the loss of a function or process would result in the identified business impacts.
Business continuity plans (BCPs) are created to help speed up the recovery of an organization filling a threat or disaster. The plan puts in place mechanisms and functions to allow personnel and assets to minimize company downtime. BCPs cover all organizational risks should a disaster happen, such as flood or fire.
Federal Emergency Management Agency. " Business Process Analysis and Business Impact Analysis User Guide ," Pages 15 - 17. Accessed Sept. 5, 2021.
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5 Reasons your organization needs a business continuity plan
You never need a business continuity plan until you do. Here are 5 reasons you should start yours today.
Read time: 6 minutes
Organizations often underestimate the importance of a business continuity plan. No one ever notices its absence – until disaster strikes. By then, it’s too late.
Any unplanned interruption of normal business processes can create immense hurdles and costly setbacks. Operations suffer. Revenue may suffer even more.
Unplanned interruptions take many forms. It can be something as simple as a power outage. It could be a major hurricane. Ultimately, a disaster can be anything that disrupts normal business operations. Regardless of the cause, unplanned means unexpected.
With a business continuity plan in place, you position yourself to minimize the impact and damage of an unexpected event. In this article, we will discuss:
What constitutes business continuity planning and the difference between it and disaster recovery.
The top 5 reasons your organization needs a business continuity plan.
The importance of business continuity planning beyond simply restoring operations.
How to get started building a business continuity plan.
What is business continuity planning?
A business continuity plan gives an organization the ability to maintain essential processes before, during, and after a disaster.
Business continuity differs from disaster recovery in its holistic approach to the business. Business continuity reflects a business-wide implementation plan to ensure the continuation of critical business functions should a disruptive event occur. Disaster recovery “recovers” an organization’s hardware, applications, and data after a technology disruption.
Learn more about Business continuity and disaster recovery solutions and services
While it takes time and effort to build and test a business continuity plan, you’ll find it well worth it should a disaster strike.
Here are 5 of the main reasons you need a business continuity plan:
Reason #1: Disaster recovery
As noted in the previous section, disaster recovery plays a significant role in the restoration of business operations.
Disasters happen. Their unexpected nature is what makes them so devastating. Being prepared may not prevent the disaster, but it does mitigate the impact on your business.
Research states that 40 percent of small businesses never recover from a disaster.¹ Larger organizations take major hits.
Often when we think of disasters, we think of major events like earthquakes, floods, and natural disasters. These, however, aren’t the only causes of downtime. Data deletion due to human error, poor security habits of users, and incompetent employees or accidents also rank among the prime reasons for IT downtime.
Reason #2: Data shows backups are not enough
Most companies deploy some form of data backup. Having data backed up does you no good if you cannot access it, such as could occur in a power outage or need to leave an office site even on a temporary basis.
Accessing data in the event of a disaster can prove a problem. After all, having a backup is different from accessing it.
It’s a question business continuity planning asks: How will you access that data in the event of an outage?
For example, the average enterprise backup reaches over a petabyte or more. This pushes conventional storage to its limits. Even several terabytes of data backed up by a small to mid-sized business can strain capacity and bandwidth. And if you don’t have a data center or hardware prepared to handle this volume of data, it does you no good.
By deploying business continuity and disaster recovery solutions leveraging cloud technologies and virtual servers, organizations can run critical business applications from backup instances on virtual servers in the cloud. This approach enables you to effectively “flip a switch” and can keep your downtime to a minimum.
Reason #3: Insurance does not protect your data
Cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated and successful every year.
A 2018 study of companies that were attacked found that 68% of breaches took months or longer to discover.² And insurance doesn’t restore data due to data center, server, or backup loss, or even lost access to any of these.
Insurance isn’t enough to cover all the damages of a disaster. Yes, it can cover the costs of repairs, but in terms of loss of revenue and business prospects due to downtime, it has little effect.
Reason #4: Competitive edge
You have a big advantage over your competitors if you can restore normal operations while they are still trying to figure it out. Getting your network back up and running fast, restoring access to your business data and documents, and reconnecting your employees to communicate with each other and support your customers allows for your organization to stand-out as a leader and one that can be trusted and relied upon.
Reason #5: Business must go on
Keeping a business going is essential. Taking a very simple view, if you lose the ability to buy and sell, your business – for all practical purposes – ceases to function.
Business continuity makes this possible by establishing actions that must be taken to ensure operations remain active, no matter the nature of the disaster. For example:
If the power goes out without certainty of when it will be restored, can you switch to a server or network located in a functioning data center?
If you experience a server failure, do you have a backup server (or virtual server) ready to go?
If your office location becomes inaccessible for any reason, can your employees work remotely?
When building your business continuity plan, you consider all the possible disruptions you might encounter. Loss of power or an office location is one of the biggest reasons offsite and redundant backup remains one of the most important aspects of IT reliability.
Your business simply cannot afford downtime. A solid business continuity plan can mean the difference between being back up and running in a matter of minutes versus days or even weeks.
The importance of a business continuity plan
A business continuity plan positions your organization to survive serious disruption. It eliminates confusion common to every disaster, providing a clear blueprint for what everyone should do.
More importantly, your business continuity plan supports:
Communication between employees and customers
Workflow operations essential to business activity
Customer service response, especially if you are a service provider
Business security, keeping your data and information secured wherever you and your team find yourself working
The flow of information and documents
Beyond business operations, your business continuity plan helps people. By keeping operations going, you are better positioned to keep your employees working, protecting the jobs that support them and their families. You also continue to meet the needs of your customers, impacting their lives, and if you are in a B2B business, the lives of their customers.
We are here to help
We have helped many businesses develop and implement business continuity plans.
In addition to consulting services like these, our IT services can remove the burden of monitoring and managing your data infrastructure to help give you increased reliability, reduced risk and a comprehensive business continuity plan in the event of a disaster.
Ricoh’s IT services include:
Server & network management
Device & desktop management
Managed cybersecurity services
End user communication services
Managed cloud services
Data center services
Disaster recovery and backup
IT project work
Remote IT support
We know that your business is unique and has its own needs. In every engagement, you can be confident that we’ll work together to create a business continuity plan and if needed, a technology infrastructure built specifically for you.
- 1. http://www.chamber101.com/2programs_committee/natural_disasters/disasterpreparedness/Forty.htm
- 2. https://enterprise.verizon.com/resources/reports/DBIR_2018_Report.pdf
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What is the Main Purpose of Business Continuity?
November 11, 2023
Business continuity is the term used to describe an organization’s ability to keep functioning during and after an emergency or major disruptive event. The main purpose of business continuity is to protect an organization’s critical operations, assets, and personnel so that it can continue to function when faced with a major disruptive event.
What’s a business continuity plan, it includes ensuring that essential functions can be quickly resumed following an interruption and that any damage to property is minimized. To achieve this, businesses need to have systems and processes in place to identify and manage risk , as well as plan for how they will maintain operations during and after a disruption.
This step enables businesses to minimize the impact of a major disruptive event and ensure that they are able to quickly resume critical operations. This brings forth the importance of business continuity management to organizations.
A disruptive event is an unforeseen or unplanned event that interrupts the normal flow of operations. Disruptive events can range from small disturbances, such as a power outage, to large-scale disasters, such as a hurricane. The impact of a disruptive event can be catastrophic, causing extensive damage to property and infrastructure, and leading to loss of life. In the aftermath of a disruptive event , it is important to have a plan in place for how to respond.
This may include evacuating the area, providing medical assistance, and restoring essential services. Importance of business continuity being prepared for a disruptive event, It can help to minimize the impact and ensure that recovery is as swift and smooth as possible.
There are a number of reasons why businesses invest in continuity planning. Here are some of the most important ones:
- To ensure that the business can continue to operate in the event of an interruption, such as a natural disaster or other catastrophic events.
- To minimize the disruption to customers, suppliers, and other key stakeholders.
- To protect the company’s reputation and brand.
- To safeguard critical data and records.
- To ensure compliance with regulations.
Ensures Business Continuity in the event of an Interruption
Any business can be interrupted by an unforeseen event such as a natural disaster , power outage, or equipment failure. While the interruption itself may be out of your control, how you respond to it can make all the difference .
Having a well-developed continuity plan helps ensure that your business can weather any storm and come out unscathed on the other side. In taking steps to identify potential risks and develop contingency plans, Organizations can keep their business up and running no matter what happens.
In today’s world, a well-executed business continuity plan is essential for any business that wants to stay afloat in the face of adversity. Disasters large and small have the potential to disrupt operations, damage critical infrastructure, and cause customer dissatisfaction.
A comprehensive continuity plan helps to ensure that a business can effectively respond to disruptions, minimize downtime, and resume operations as quickly as possible. The key elements of a successful continuity plan include identifying potential threats, assessing risks, developing response strategies, and establishing clear lines of communication.
Minimize Disruptions to Customers, Suppliers, and other Key Stakeholders.
Businesses inevitably go through changes, whether it’s a change in ownership, a shift in strategy , or even just a move to a new office space. However, it’s important to minimize the disruptions that these changes can cause to customers, suppliers, and other key stakeholders.
In the case of a move, for example, businesses should provide clear and concise directions to their new location, as well as make sure that any contact information that has changed is updated on their website and other channels.
They should also provide ample notice to suppliers and other partners so that they can make any necessary adjustments to their own operations.
In any business, it is important to maintain positive relationships with customers, suppliers , and other key stakeholders. This can be difficult when disruptions occur, but there are some steps that businesses can take to minimize the impact .
First, it is important to have a clear plan for dealing with disruptions. This should include contingencies for alternate suppliers and communication plans for keeping stakeholders informed. In addition, businesses should strive to be as transparent as possible about the disruption and its potential effects.
Any business change has the potential to disrupt the status quo and upset the delicate balance that exists between a company and its key stakeholders. Therefore, it is essential to minimize disruptions whenever possible.
One way to do this is to clearly communicate the reasons for the change and its expected benefits. This will help to ensure that customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders are on board with the changes and are less likely to be disrupted by them.
In addition, it is important to implement changes gradually whenever possible. This gives everyone time to adjust to the new reality and minimizes the risk of disruptions. By taking these steps, businesses can minimize the disruptions that accompany any change.
Protect the Company’s Reputation and Brand.
One of the most important assets of any company is its reputation. A strong reputation can attract customers and help to build brand equity. Conversely, a negative reputation can deter customers and damage the company’s bottom line.
That’s why it’s essential for businesses to take steps to protect their reputation. One way to do this is to proactively manage the company’s online presence. This includes monitoring social media and responding quickly to any negative reviews or comments.
Additionally, businesses should make sure that their customer service is up to standard and that they are actively addressing any complaints.
A company’s reputation and brand are its most valuable assets. A strong reputation can attract new customers and help to retain existing ones, while a weak reputation can drive customers away. A business continuity plan ensures customers remain in the business.
Therefore, it is essential for businesses to take steps to protect their reputation and brand . This can be done in a number of ways, such as actively managing social media presence, monitoring online reviews, and responding quickly to negative feedback.
In addition, companies should make sure that their branding is consistent across all channels, from their website to their social media accounts.
Safeguard Critical Data and Records
The loss or destruction of critical data and records can have a devastating impact on any business operations large or small. Safeguarding these important assets should be a top priority for any organization.
There are many ways to protect data and records, including physical security measures like locks and alarms, as well as digital security measures like encryption and password protection.
Additionally, it is important to have robust backup systems in place so that if the worst does happen, you can quickly and easily recover your lost data. By taking steps to safeguard your critical data and records, you can help ensure that your business can continue to thrive in the face of any disaster.
Any organization that relies on data to do business faces the risk of data loss. Whether it’s customer information, financial records, or proprietary knowledge, data loss can have a devastating impact on an organization’s bottom line.
Fortunately, there are a number of steps that organizations can take to safeguard their data and records. One of the most important is to create regular backups. By storing copies of critical data off-site, organizations can ensure that they will be able to recover from even the most catastrophic events.,
Organizations should consider encrypting their data to protect it from unauthorized access through disaster recovery initiatives. In taking these simple steps, organizations can help ensure that their data is always safe and secure.
Compliance with Regulations
Business continuity planning is essential for all businesses, small and large alike. Not only can a well-developed plan help to keep your business operational during an unexpected event, but it can also help to ensure compliance with regulations.
Federal and state agencies are increasingly mandating that businesses have a plan in place to deal with disruptions, and a failure to comply can result in significant fines. In addition, business continuity planning ensures many insurers now require proof of business continuity planning in order to provide coverage.
Organizations need to take the time to develop a comprehensive plan, they can protect an organization from both financial and legal risks . Regulations are constantly changing, and without a plan in place, an organization may be vulnerable to lawsuits or fines.
Business continuity plansshould include specific steps to follow in the event of a data breach, as well as protocols for responding to other emergencies. An important part of any plan is training employees on how to respond. Employees need to be familiar with the plan, and know where to find information when they need it.
Regular testing of the business continuity plans is also essential. Tests should be conducted in a variety of scenarios so that employees are prepared for anything.
It is also important to have a clear chain of command in place. In the event of an emergency, it is crucial that everyone knows who is in charge and what their role is. A well-organized plan will help to ensure that things run smoothly in a crisis.
As we’ve seen, there are many reasons why businesses should implement a business continuity plan . By ensuring that your company can continue to operate in the event of an interruption, you minimize the disruption to customers, suppliers, and other key stakeholders. You also protect the company’s reputation and brand. Most importantly, you safeguard critical data and records.
In conclusion, business continuity is essential for any company looking to protect its operations, customers, and reputation in the event of an interruption. By following the tips we’ve outlined in this post, you can ensure that your business is well-prepared for any potential disaster . Have you created a business continuity plan yet? If not, now is the time to do so!
Chris Ekai is a Risk Management expert with over 10 years of experience in the field. He has a Master’s(MSc) degree in Risk Management from University of Portsmouth and is a CPA and Finance professional. He currently works as a Content Manager at Risk Publishing, writing about Enterprise Risk Management, Business Continuity Management and Project Management.
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Back to Glossary
What is a business continuity plan?
A business continuity plan refers to an organization’s system of procedures to restore critical business functions in the event of an unplanned disaster. These disasters could include natural disasters, cyberattacks, service outages, or other potential threats. Business continuity planning (BCP) enables organizations to resume business operations with minimal downtime.
Explore additional business continuity planning topics:
What is the purpose of a business continuity plan?
- 5 elements of a successful business continuity plan
- Citrix solutions for business continuity
An optimized business continuity plan encompasses three main components.
First, a company needs to be resilient. That means key business functions are designed within the context of potential disasters. The business continuity team runs a risk assessment against each function for weaknesses and susceptibilities, then establishes protections against them. This supports ongoing risk management policies.
Second, stakeholders prioritize functions and determine which need to be brought online first. Disaster recovery is a key factor, and the faster functions can return to an operational state, the less likely the organization is to sustain lasting damage. IT stakeholders set disaster recovery time goals and develop an actionable disaster recovery plan. After mission-critical functions return to working order, team members work down the list of priority functions, utilizing third-party support to implement recovery strategies as needed.
Third, organizations require a contingency plan with branching paths that describe chains of command, stakeholder responsibilities, and any necessary technical knowledge necessary for emergency management within established disaster scenarios. Finally, an optimized business continuity plan includes a recovery time objective (RTO) to establish the speed at which business operations must be recovered, and a business impact analysis (BIA) to determine how successful recovery efforts were. Likewise, a disaster report shows stakeholders how the disaster recovery planning process can improve in the future.
With these three elements, an organization can weather crises, assess damage quickly, and recover as soon as possible. It's also important to understand that a business continuity plan is a living document that must be updated regularly as the organization adopts new technologies and processes. As organizations grow to scale, they adopt new solutions and infrastructures; these must be accounted for in the plan, or disaster recovery challenges could become augmented by unexpected bottlenecks.
Five elements of a successful business continuity plan
Although each business disruption is unique and many decisions will have to be made as situations unfold, a business continuity plan provides a framework and preparation to guide these decisions, as well as a clear indication of who will make them. A successful business continuity plan includes the following elements.
1. Define a team structure
- Develop a clear decision-making hierarchy, so that in an emergency, people don’t wonder who has the responsibility or authority to make a given decision
- Create a core business continuity team with personnel from throughout the organization, including executive leaders, information technology, facilities, and real estate, as well as physical security, communications, human resources, finance, and other service departments
- Create supporting teams devoted to related functions such as emergency response, communications, campus response, and business readiness
2. Establish a plan
- Identify potential disruptions to your business process that can affect any of your organization’s locations, such as power outages, epidemics, and fires•
- Base your plan on worst-case scenarios rather than multiple graduated versions of each incident, to keep the number of scenarios manageable
- Prioritize the most essential operations as well as who will perform them and how work will be redirected if key people are unavailable
- Determine how employees will work from home in the event of a prolonged outage
- Update your plan annually to reflect changes in the criticality and dependency of applications, business priorities, risk management, business locations, operations, and other considerations
3. Test your plan
- Conduct full emergency simulations annually, including crisis communications, safety drills, and workplace recovery processes
- Measure your test results and strive for continuous improvements, whether they’re application availability goals or personnel safety assurances
4. Create a crisis communications strategy
- Establish emergency notification procedures, incorporating both push and pull systems to communicate quickly
- Identify all stakeholders for emergency communications, including employees, contractors, clients, vendors, media, and executive management—and collect all contact information
- Prepare scripted communications that can be easily updated and ready to transmit immediately
5. Educate people on safety procedures
- Train your workforce so they’re aware of the processes they should follow in the event of an emergency and so they know where to find resources for help
- Consult with local and federal agencies for emergency response training and other guidance for your program
- Conduct employee drills to help personnel become familiar with procedures, such as finding emergency exits
Citrix solutions for business continuity planning
If people can’t access the applications, data, and files they depend on, business stays down—and risks losing money, customers, productivity, reputation, and opportunities every moment it takes to get them back to work. Citrix keeps your business running during unplanned downtimes to ensure continuity of operations.
- Provide people with secure offsite access to a virtual applications and desktops, from any location and device
- Simplify business continuity management by leveraging everyday infrastructure, eliminating the need for separate tools, devices, and recovery units
- Ensure IT availability through rapid, automated datacenter failover, load balancing, and network capacity management as well as cloud-based deployment choices
What is business continuity?
What is disaster recovery?
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Business Continuity Simplified
By Andy Marker | December 17, 2018 (updated October 24, 2021)
Unexpected work interruptions can cripple a business and cause millions of dollars in expenses and lost business. Learn about the importance of business continuity planning and management from experts.
In this article, you’ll learn the definition of a business continuity plan and the primary goal of business continuity planning . Additionally, you’ll learn the steps involved in business continuity planning and about the business continuity lifecycle .
What Is Business Continuity Management?
In business continuity management (BCM) , a company identifies potential threats to its activities and the threat impact. The company then develops plans to respond to those threats and continue activities through any crisis.
What Is a Business Continuity Plan?
A business continuity plan (BCP) describes how a business will continue to run during and after a crisis event. The BCP details guidelines, procedures, and work instructions to aid continuity.
To learn more about writing a plan, see our how-to guide to writing a business continuity plan .
What Is Business Continuity Planning?
Business continuity planning (BCP) refers to the work a company does to create a plan and system to deal with risks. Thorough planning seeks to prevent problems and ensure business processes continue during and after a crisis.
Business continuity planning ensures that the company deals with disruptions quickly, and minimizes the impact on operations. Business continuity planning is also called business resumption planning and continuous service delivery assurance (CSDA) .
What Is the Primary Goal of Business Continuity Planning?
The main goal of business continuity planning is to support key company activities during a crisis. Planning ensures a company can run with limited resources or restricted access to buildings. Continuity planning also aims to minimize revenue or reputation losses.
A business continuity plan should outline several key things that an organization needs to do to prepare for potential disruptions to its activities, including the following:
- Recognize potential threats to a company.
- Assess potential impacts on the company’s daily activities.
- Provide a way to reduce these potential problems, and establish a structure that allows key company functions to continue throughout and after the event.
- Identify the resources the organization needs to continue operating, such as staffing, equipment, and alternative locations.
Business Continuity Planning Steps
A business continuity plan includes guidelines and procedures to guide a business through disruption. The efforts to create a plan are the same for large or small organizations. A simple plan is better than no plan.
The basic steps for writing a business continuity plan are as follows:
- Create a governance team.
- Complete your business impact analysis (BIA) and risk assessment documents.
- Document your plan. Remember to include detailed guidelines and procedures that cover key processes and facilities.
- Test and update the plan regularly.
The Business Continuity Management Lifecycle
Business continuity management includes preparing for and handling unexpected events. BCM has a six-step lifecycle. This cycle repeats during both in regular business times and crises, as you take the right steps to keep activities always running.
The BCM lifecycle includes the following points:
- Mitigate Risk: Proactively identify business continuity risks to your company, and plan how your company will respond.
- Prepare: Train staff on your business continuity plan and ensure they understand what they need to do to help the business respond.
- Respond: Ensure that your company and all employees respond appropriately to a crisis. Be prepared to adapt in the moment.
- Resolve: Ensure that the company plans how to communicate effectively with staff and that it does so appropriately during the crisis.
- Recover: Inform employees, customers, and other important people about the status of the crisis and your company’s response.
- Resume: Communicate with employees and others after the crisis ends.
What Are Business Continuity Risks or Events?
Also called business continuity events, business continuity risks are the most common events that can disrupt a company’s regular operations — these can be natural and human-made crises. Defining these risks is a vital part of business continuity planning.
Such events might include the following:
- Severe weather
- Natural disasters (tornadoes, floods, blizzards, earthquakes, fire, etc.)
- A physical security threat
- A recall of a company’s product
- Supply chain problems
- Threats to staffing and employee safety
- Accidents at an organization’s facilities
- Destruction to a company’s facilities or property
- Power disruptions
- Server crashes
- Failures in public and private services (communications, transportation, safety, etc.)
- Environmental disasters, including hazardous materials spills
- Network disruptions
- Human error/human-made hazards
- Stock market crashes
- Cyber attacks and hacker activity
Any of these triggers can result in broader problems for a company, such as danger or injury to staff and others, equipment damages, brand injury, and loss of income and net worth. Business continuity management and planning address and mitigate these contingencies.
What Is a Business Continuity Strategy?
A business continuity strategy is more often called a business continuity plan. The strategy includes the processes and structure a company uses to manage an unexpected event.
Some people consider business continuity strategy to be a step in the planning process. In the strategy phase, business continuity planners describe the overall approach a company should take to prevent, manage, and recover from a crisis.
An Overview of Business Continuity Management and Planning
There are several goals, key elements, and benefits to business continuity management and planning. The primary goals of management and planning are as follows:
- Build Company Resiliency: Doing so means that your company’s tools, buildings, and operations are resistant to — and not greatly affected by — most disruptions.
- Create a Plan for Recovery (with Contingencies that Aid in That Recovery): If a major event does cause problems, you should have a plan for how to recover quickly. That plan will include contingencies. For example, you should plan for how key operations will resume if there is a widespread power outage.
Business continuity management and planning generally cover the following areas, with differences depending on the organization and industry:
- Disaster Recovery: Disaster recovery involves recovering technology after a disruptive event. You can learn more about disaster recovery and download free templates in our comprehensive article .
- Emergency Management: Emergency management focuses on avoiding and mitigating catastrophic risks to staff and communities.
- Business Recovery: Considered part of business continuity, business recovery centers on short-term activities after a disruptive incident. The short-term is sometimes defined as less than 60 days.
- Business Resumption: This describes the longterm phase of recovery (60 or more days after an even), wherein the company returns to near-normal conditions.
- Crisis Management: Crisis management focuses on communicating with stakeholders during and after a crisis, and controlling damage during the event. To learn more, read our comprehensive guide to crisis management .
- Incident Management: Incident management is an ITIL (previously known as Information Technology Infrastructure Library) framework for reducing or eliminating downtime after an incident.
- Contingency Planning: This covers outlier risks that are unlikely to occur but which could have disastrous results.
“A well managed business continuity management program will help protect people, assets, and business processes,” says Scott Owens, founder and managing director of BluTinuity , a business continuity firm based in New Berlin, Wisconsin. “It may not be able to prevent all incidents. But it can reduce the likelihood of incidents, decrease response time, and lower the cost and impact of an incident.”
Key Elements of Business Continuity Management
All business continuity management programs should include a number of key elements, which serve to ensure that your plan is positioned for success and that you regularly update and improve it.
These important elements include the following:
- Governance: This is the structure and team your business sets up to create and monitor the program.
- Business Alignment: This section details how your company’s current business continuity management and planning processes compare to expert approaches and industry standards.
- Continuity Strategy and Recovery Strategies: Include a detailed plan that assesses risks to your organization and how you can recover, should those risks become reality.
- Plan Documentation: Provide details on the plan that everyone in your company can access. To get started, see our roundup of free business continuity plan templates .
- Tactical Implementation: This section includes details on the specific ways your company plans to recover from certain types of incidents.
- Training: In this section, detail how you will train your staff to understand the business continuity plan and their role in it.
- Testing: Include real-world simulations of a crisis event, and test how your company and its employees respond and the effectiveness of your business continuity plans.
- Maintenance: Make changes to the plan where necessary to increase its effectiveness.
- Monitoring: This section details how you will continue to compare industry standards and expert advice to how your plan is working.
To learn about formal requirements for business continuity planning and management, see our comprehensive article on the ISO 22301 standard .
The Costs of Business Continuity Management
The costs to do an appropriate job of business continuity management can be significant. However, some reports say that the cost of unforeseen downtime may be as much as $2.5 billion a year for Fortune 1000 companies.
Kurt Engemann, Ph.D., is Director of the Center for Business Continuity and Risk Management at Iona College in New York, Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Business Continuity and Risk Management and author of Business Continuity and Risk Management: Essentials of Organizational Resilience . In the book, he says that costs for business continuity preparation do not only include the groundwork to assess a company’s risks and plans to manage those risks. Rather, they also cover the needed backup facilities and equipment and company assets for emergency response. In addition, costs must cover resources for training employees and testing the plan.
Some experts have estimated that business continuity management and planning within only the crucial information technology aspects of companies can cost two to four percent of the information technology budget. But the costs are necessary, and worth it in the long run, according to business continuity experts.
“There is an initial outlay of a modest amount of money that will lessen the financial impact of a possible future crisis,” Engemann writes in his book. “Similar to an insurance policy, the financial benefit of BCM must be viewed from a long-term prospective.”
When an organization’s top executives complain about the costs, Owens says, “Ask them what it would cost their organization for an hour of downtime. Or eight hours. Or 24 hours. Chances are the cost — financial, operational, and to brand and reputation — of having key business functions unavailable for an extended period are significant. They will most likely find business continuity management to be worth the investment.”
Benefits of Business Continuity Management
Like Engemann, Owens points out that there are significant benefits to the investment organizations make in business continuity management, including the following:
- Mission Critical Processes: If you understand your key processes, you can plan to protect them and prioritize their recovery.
- Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Laws or regulations require companies in some industries to implement a formal business continuity management system.
- Satisfying Demands from Other Organizations: Some groups and companies may require that your company sets up BCM before they do business with you.
- Insurance Payments: To get the maximum payments from an insurance policy after an event, a company must have suitable business continuity management policies in place.
- Reputation Management: Your business’s brand will be greatly helped or hurt, depending on how an unforeseen event affects its operations.
- Competitive Advantage: A strong business continuity plan can offer your company the advantage over peers who are not as well prepared.
- Seamless Recovery: Cloud-based technologies make data backup, remote work, and business recovery affordable and accessible. Groups and businesses of all sizes can benefit from such tools. See our article on cloud computing for business continuity to learn more.
- Time Savings: Planning prevents teams from scrambling at the last minute to cobble together a recovery effort. Strong planning helps you get back online — and back on track — faster.
Michael Herrera, CEO of MHA Consulting , a business continuity and disaster recovery firm, cites two other significant benefits:
- Keeping Customers and Avoiding Major Financial Losses: Getting operations back to normal quickly after an event means your company loses less money.
“Your customers aren’t as patient as you think they are,” Herrera explains. “They expect you to have a business continuity system and they expect you to be up and running. Their patience does run out.”
- Improving Day-to-Day Operations: Herrera says his firm’s clients often discover how business continuity planning gives them insights into the day-to-day operations of their company. “It really can help you with process improvement and getting a good understanding of what your business does every day.”
Additionally, strong business continuity planning will enable you to do the following:
- Officially declare a disaster and alert senior management.
- Assist in the development of an official public statement regarding a disaster and its effects on a business.
- Monitor your business’s progress and present the recovery status.
- Provide ongoing support and guidance to teams with pre-planned operations.
- Review critical processing, schedules, and backlogs to keep everyone up to date on status.
- Ensure businesses have both the resources and the information to deal with an unforeseen emergency.
- Reduce the risk that an emergency might pose to employees, clients, and vendors, etc.
- Provide a response for both man-made and environmental disasters.
- Improve overall business communication and response plans.
- Summarize both the operational and the financial impacts resulting from the loss of critical business functions.
- Allow businesses to plan for a loss of function that has potentially larger, more severe consequences.
See our article on the importance and benefits of business continuity planning to read more expert examples of how business continuity can bolster your company.
Key Business Continuity Management and Planning Considerations
Companies don’t have to face business continuity planning alone. There are a variety of tools and services that can help, including the following:
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of consultants and companies that can provide help with developing your business continuity plan. Below are a few things to think about in choosing one:
- How experienced are they? How long have they been around?
- What’s their reputation as a company? What do their clients say about them?
- Are they focused on a specific industry or area of business continuity, or do they have experience with a range of industries and a broad spectrum of business continuity?
- How do they think about business continuity (as a somewhat separate practice or something that needs to be ingrained within your organization)?
- How aligned is their advice with standards in your industry?
Business Continuity Software
There are also hundreds of pieces of business continuity software on the market. Here are some things to consider:
- Are you looking for software that will automate the development of plan components, or software that offers more in-depth help during the planning phase?
- What is the history of the software and the company behind it? How long has this particular software been on the market and what is the history and the reputation of the company behind it?
- Is the software being continually updated and improved?
Below are some specifics to consider as you test drive the software:
- Does it have an easy-to-use interface?
- Does it cover all aspects and components of business continuity, including business impact analysis and risk assessment ?
- Does it include sufficient storage for your company’s supporting documents?
- Does it provide secure portable access via mobile or other technologies, if a crisis interrupts your information technology systems?
- Does it provide strong data analytics?
- Is it secure and private?
Primary Things Your Organization’s Business Continuity Management System Should Accomplish
While your business continuity management system will have various elements and details, there are some primary things it should do for your organization. They correspond to the key elements listed earlier in this article.
For example, a BCM system should help do the following:
- Understand your company’s needs for business continuity and disaster preparedness. A BCM system should be able to assist company leaders in understanding the need for a business continuity management policy.
- Understand which processes should be recovered and in what order.
- Establish business continuity metrics to gauge success.
- Plan for communicating with customers, staff, and other stakeholders.
- Determine what tools, technology, and staffing are required to restore activities and support customers.
- Establish remote-work support or relocation plans for staff and activities.
- Implement ways to continually assess and manage continuity risks.
- Monitor and review how its business continuity management system is working.
- Continually improve the system.
- Respond effectively in a real-world crisis, and allow the business’s critical operations to continue and all operations to resume quickly.
Although nobody wants to think about disasters or the effort needed to prepare to meet and mitigate crises, the alternative is the potential loss of reputation, income, or the entire business. In sum, planning translates to determining your key processes, equipment, and tools, and applying basic recovery strategies.
The Importance of Senior Organizational Leaders Strongly Supporting Your Business Continuity Management and Planning
Your senior leaders must strongly support your company’s business continuity management plan for it to succeed. Such leadership is key as storms, floods, pandemics, and data breaches increase in force and frequency.
“Make sure senior management is committed to the planning, development, execution, and implementation of a business continuity/disaster recovery program,” says Paul Kirvan , a business continuity consultant and a fellow of the Business Continuity Institute with 25 years of experience in business continuity work. “Otherwise, it simply won’t happen. Such programs work best if they have top-down support and funding, as opposed to being developed from the ground up.”
Business Continuity Plan Test Types
Testing verifies the effectiveness of your plan and provides training for participants. To ensure better communication, include suppliers, vendors, and other stakeholders in exercises. If appropriate, also consider including local emergency preparedness officials.
There are four types of testing, and each requires increasing levels of planning, resources, and focus. You should try to run each type of drill regularly.
- Plan Review: Plan reviews are often the first test applied to a new plan. In this test, top management and some key BCP personnel review the relevance and completeness of a plan. Such a review can verify risk and BIA results, and help you check for gaps and inconsistencies among continuity documents.
- Tabletop or Structured Walkthrough: A tabletop test requires more preparation and time. It provides a role-playing exercise for recovery teams.
- Simulation or Walkthrough Drill: In a walkthrough drill, your continuity team physically completes the type of tasks they'd find in a crisis. They may practice evacuating a building during a fire, restoring a backup, or switching to another communication frequency.
- Functional or Live Scenario: Functional tests include a complete physical drill of continuity plans. Live tests may focus on one aspect of the plan or include the complete plan. They may include one part of the company or all team members.
Be sure to document what happened in the test so everyone involved in the exercise — and especially those who created the plan — can understand what did and didn’t go well, and can revise as necessary.
Business Continuity Management Policy Statement
A business continuity policy statement is a written document that outlines an organization’s business continuity management program. The policy statement should be communicated to all employees and should be signed and endorsed by the organization’s senior management.
See real-world examples of a business continuity policy statement .
Cultivating Awareness of Business Continuity Plans
The best business continuity system is useless if no one knows about it. Find ways to promote your plans in daily company activities, and discuss business continuity regularly in company and team meetings. Also, be sure to include the business continuity manager in cross-functional planning meetings so they can represent the business continuity perspective. Above all, exercise your plan, test your plan, and then test again.
What Is the Importance of a Business Continuity Plan?
A business continuity plan is vital to ensure that your company mitigates downtime during a crisis. Resuming activities quickly after an event also helps ensure your company’s financial health.
How to Write a Business Continuity Plan
It is crucial that your company set up a group of people to help create your business continuity plan. The group should include senior leadership, experts, and staff. A simple, practical plan is the best plan. At a minimum, include continuity team roles and duties, and team member contact information. You should also add guidelines and checklists for dealing with unforeseen events.
Daily business functions rely on many resources — human, utilities, machines, and even paper, pens, and pencils. Business recovery after a disruptive event is no different. See our in-depth article on writing a business continuity plan for a complete list of resource types you may want to include in a plan.
You can ask certain questions as you form your strategy, and a business continuity plan usually includes common resources and elements. See our article on how to write a business continuity plan to learn more.
Business Continuity Plan Template
This template can help you document and track business operations in the event of a disruption/disaster to maintain critical processes. The plan includes space to record business function recovery priorities, recovery plans, and alternate site locations. Plan efficiently for disruption and minimize downtime, so your business maintains optimal efficiency.
Download Business Continuity Plan Template
Word | PowerPoint | PDF
You’ll find other most useful free, downloadable business continuity plan (BCP) templates, in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and PDF formats in this article .
What Is a Business Impact Analysis and Why Is It an Important Part of a Business Continuity Plan?
A business impact analysis (BIA) is one of the most important parts of business continuity planning. The analysis considers how an unforeseen disruption could affect a company. BIA results also suggest how a business can recover from a crisis.
The business impact analysis will include details on the following:
- Recovery time objectives that outline the organization’s goals relating to how quickly various services and processes will resume after an event
- Financial impact of an incident
- Impact on customers
- Other possible impacts of an incident
- How the organization will prioritize recovery steps
- How the organization will prioritize critical services or products
- Identification of potential revenue loss
- Identification of additional expenses the organization will incur because of the event
- Identification of insurance an organization has or needs to have
- Identification of an organization’s dependencies on other agencies, companies, and providers
See our business impact analysis toolkit to find guidelines and templates to get started.
Risk Mitigation for Business Continuity
Risk assessment is one of the first steps in preparing your business continuity plan.
Risk management includes identifying and ranking risks, and risk control includes identifying policies and procedures to avoid and contain risks.
To learn more about risk management , read our comprehensive guide.
The Importance of Periodically Testing an Organization’s Business Continuity Plan
Even the best business continuity plans are useless if you do not continually test them in real-world mockups. Testing helps you continuously improve procedures, and also keeps plans synched with current business context.
Robert Sollars, a security trainer and consultant from Mesa, Arizona, says, “You must exercise your plan and train your employees in it. This can be costly and unwieldy at times, but it is an absolute must. I liken this to buying a Lamborghini and letting it sit in the garage, never starting it up, never driving it, never doing anything but admiring it. Your plan must be taken out and test driven at least two to three times per year. If you don’t test it, then when the real thing pops you will realize what the books, consultants, and experts have told you is useless for your organization. Testing it allows you to figure out the bugs and tweak the necessary items to make it more efficient and effective.”
Owens adds, “If you haven’t tested your plans, you aren’t ready for a disaster.”
You can do some testing through simpler table top exercises — for example, by talking through hypothetical incidents with your team. But Owens and other business continuity experts say organizations should also periodically do exercises that more closely mimic a real-world event.
“Organizations need to move … to progressively more complex scenarios, involving cross-functional teams and interdependent systems and processes,” he writes in a blog post about business continuity. “This is the only way that a company can get outside its comfort zone to truly understand if what they have designed will really work. My preference is to involve role-playing, actors, and include participation from vendors, business partners, and local law enforcement when appropriate. This will almost always result in lessons learned and opportunities to improve the plan, which is another great outcome.”
The most important result from testing your plan is an understanding of where theoretical solutions won’t work in real events. This understanding will then allow your organization to amend the plan to be more effective.
What Is a Business Continuity Plan Governance Committee?
Many companies set up a business continuity plan governance committee, which consists of staff members and senior leaders (their continuity efforts is vital). Governance tasks include writing the business continuity plan and supervising ongoing plan maintenance.
The committee is often responsible for the following duties:
- Approving the governance structure of the committee
- Clarifying the roles of committee members and others working on the plan
- Overseeing the creation of working groups to develop and implement the plan
- Providing overall direction and communicate important information to employees
- Approving the continuity plan and essential specifics within it
- Setting priorities within the plan
The committee often includes the following members:
- A senior leader from the business, often the sponsor
- A business continuity manager and assistant manager
- The company employee, or outside consultant, who will serve as overall coordinator of the business continuity plan
- The company’s security officer
- The company’s chief information officer, or information technology leader
- Representatives from the company’s business department, to help with the business impact analysis
- An administrative representative
How to Cultivate Resilience in Your Organization
A resilient organization has the tools and abilities to survive a disruptive event, and also regularly looks for new threats and adapts to changes in the organizational and industry landscape. Resilience experts recognize two types of resilience: reactive resilience uses a company’s existing processes to meet and overcome a crisis; proactive resilience anticipates disruptions and considers methods to prevent problems.
Real World Example: Lessons Learned About Business Continuity from the Terrorist Attacks of Sept. 11, 2001
Organizational leaders and business continuity experts learned a lot from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Worst of all, the attacks killed thousands of people. But they also severely disrupted communications, financial transactions, and some commerce in New York City and throughout the world.
The following are among the lessons learned:
- Business continuity plans must be tested frequently, and updated where needed.
- The plans must assume a wide range of threats.
- The plans must take into account how much companies, agencies, and other entities depend on each other.
- Key people from any organization must be available and reachable when an incident happens.
- The ability to communicate, especially through landline phones, cell phones, and the internet, is vital.
- Sites that organizations use for backup of their digital information should be located at a distance from their primary information technology site.
- Employee support and counseling may be important during and after a crisis.
- An organization should store copies of its business continuity plan at a location apart from its primary location.
- Security perimeters around the scene of an incident may be large, which may affect employees’ access to organization facilities for long periods.
Legislation Governing Some Business Continuity Management and Planning
The United Kingdom did approved the Civil Contingencies Act in 2004, which requires businesses to have business continuity plans in place.
Some industries do have regulatory bodies that may impose business continuity requirements within those industries. For instance, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is a private self-regulatory organization overseeing the U.S. financial securities industry. FINRA established FINRA Rule 4370. This rule requires securities firms to create and maintain written business continuity plans. Utility bodies, such as North American Electric Reliability Corporation ( NERC ) and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ( FERC ), also require continuity plans.
Guidelines, Standards, and Resources Providing Guidance on Business Continuity Management and Planning
Organizational leaders can use a number of standards set by industry and other groups to guide their business continuity planning and management programs. Below are some commonly used standards:
- ISO 22301 : Developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), a standard-setting body, this group of standards sets out appropriate business continuity management practices. Learn more about how this standard can help businesses of all sizes in our guide to ISO 22301 .
- NFPA 1600 : Developed by the National Fire Protection Association, the standard is one of the most widely recognized in the U.S. on emergency preparedness and business continuity.
- National Institute of Standards and Technology SP 800-34 : Sets contingency planning standards for federal information systems in the U.S.
- SPC-2009 — Organizational Resilience : Security, Preparedness and Continuity Management Systems provides critical business and infrastructure security standards developed by the American Society for Industrial Security.
- ISO 27000 : Standards for security in information technology systems, which include standards for business continuity in information technology. Learn more about ISO 27000 and find free checklists and templates .
- DRI International : Professional Practices for Business Continuity Management
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Continuity Guidance Circular: Continuity Guidance for Non-Federal Entities: An 86-page formal document, the circular presents FEMA’s perspective on how businesses can prepare for disasters.
- Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety: Open for Business Continuity Toolkit: This site offers a video, FAQ, and downloadable continuity planning tools.
What Is the Business Continuity Institute?
The Business Continuity Institute (BCI), based in the United Kingdom, is a non-profit professional organization providing education, certification, and leadership on business continuity management. The Institute has more than 8,000 members in more than 100 countries.
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Why Your Business Needs a Business Continuity Plan
- by Audrey Quiteves on July 23, 2023
- last update on July 21, 2023
- Reading Time: 7 minutes
Most organizations are no strangers to plans. Whether succession planning, business strategy, or marketing campaigns, planning is vital in ensuring all bases are covered from start to finish.
Among the areas that require planning within an organization, business continuity and disaster recovery stand out as crucial. These aspects are instrumental in maintaining the stability of your business’s skeletal structure and operations, especially during challenging circumstances.
In this article, we will delve into the importance of business continuity planning, its fundamentals, and how it can enhance your company’s resilience.
What is Business Continuity Planning?
Business continuity planning is the development of a strategic management plan to prepare an organization for responding to and recovering from various crises, such as natural disasters, pandemics, or cyberattacks. Inadequate management of a business crisis can lead to significant expenses and reputational damage. Stakeholders are often unforgiving during such times, making it essential to have a well-prepared business continuity plan in place.
What is the importance of a business continuity plan?
A business continuity plan (BCP), which is an executive-approved document for managing disruptions, serves as a definitive blueprint outlining the actions to be taken by everyone involved to maintain operations throughout and after a catastrophe. Specifically, the business continuity plan supports critical aspects such as workflow operations, customer service response, workforce communication, information flow, and business security.
What is the goal of a business continuity plan? It is crucial in mitigating the risks associated with losses and the aftermath of a crisis. Such a plan offers peace of mind to both management and employees, creating a secure work environment where clear policies are in place to guide response and recovery efforts during crises.
Business Continuity Planning vs Disaster Recovery
While natural disasters can trigger crises, business continuity extends beyond disaster recovery. Business continuity encompasses the comprehensive implementation plan that ensures the continuous operation of critical business functions. On the other hand, disaster recovery is a specific component of the business continuity plan that primarily focuses on restoring the organization’s IT infrastructure and data after disruptions.
Top Reasons Why Business Continuity Planning is Important
It is important to understand that a business continuity plan is not merely a backup plan to restore revenue. There are numerous compelling reasons why even small businesses should prioritize preparing such a plan. Let’s explore the key motivations behind initiating your business continuity planning.
1. Minimize Downtime and Losses
Whatever your business goals are or wherever industry, your company cannot afford downtime. Understanding and implementing instantly what to do in case of disruptions is one of the main benefits of a business continuity plan. Remember that the longer the downtime, the higher potential for financial loss.
Business continuity planning makes it possible to keep your business running and mitigate financial loss by establishing actions to take, whatever the nature of the disruption. For instance, if the current physical office becomes inaccessible due to natural disasters, can your system support remote work and resources for employees? Or, if the power goes out and the server or network can’t be accessed, is there a backup server or data center?
A strong business continuity plan takes into account the potential losses when downtime occurs in a matter of minutes to days and weeks. It defines the procedures of how the company should function and continue to be stable to communicate to all stakeholders and customers — eventually, ensuring continuous flow of revenue and trust.
2. Anticipate Risks and Threats
Constant discussion and application of the BCP ensures that the business continuity management team is examining the potential risks, threats, and accidents that the company may face. Disasters are not limited to natural causes. In today’s business, organizations are expected to face a myriad of challenges, from power disruptions and global pandemics to targeted cybercrimes and data destruction.
Proper business continuity planning allows the consideration of all the possible disruptions within your industry, location, and even on a global scale. Identifying these risks may prevent losses by establishing response and recovery procedures.
3. Ensure Customer Confidence and Safeguard Reputation
During times of crisis, your customers become more discerning about your actions and responses. They expect your business to effectively navigate through disaster situations. Resuming operations promptly and effectively after a crisis can significantly contribute to building trust with your customers.
Additionally, your customers represent one of the most valuable assets of your company, and it is crucial to safeguard the information they have entrusted to you. Establishing a contingency plan outlines the necessary measures to take in the event of cyberattacks and data breaches.
Having a robust business continuity plan in place signals to customers that they have made the right choice in selecting your product or service, leading them to continue their patronage. This, in turn, can have a positive impact on your brand reputation. Companies that demonstrate preparedness and consistency in effectively managing crises convey their resilience and stability to their consumers and the world at large.
4. Enhance Employee Safety and Well-being
When a company is affected by disasters or crises, it can be challenging to focus on work. However, in such situations, it is crucial to prioritize the safety and well-being of your workforce. Safety extends beyond physical health and includes mental well-being as well.
Amidst the global pandemic, businesses have experienced widespread disruption, leading many employers to adopt remote work arrangements and implement mental health programs to support their employees. A well-prepared business continuity plan plays a vital role in swiftly accounting for employee safety and providing necessary support for them to continue working during and after crises.
Furthermore, when employees are confident in the plans and decisions made by management, they become more determined and focused on their work. By establishing a well-communicated business continuity plan, you reassure your employees of their safety. This then can enhance employee productivity, improve operational efficiencies, and foster heightened vigilance against security threats.
5. Gain Competitive Advantage
Another benefit of a business continuity plan is gaining a competitive edge over your rivals. Effectively restoring business operations, recovering networks, updating data access, and reconnecting employees to customers all contribute to enhancing corporate governance and positioning your company as a reliable brand. A robust business continuity plan guarantees that you are prepared to navigate disruptions, delivering uninterrupted services that set you apart from the competition.
The Fundamentals of Business Continuity Planning
The purpose of a business continuity plan is to identify, address, and reduce the risk of potential disruptions while maintaining business functions. Below are the key components of business continuity planning:
1. The emergency response team
To initiate the BCP process, it is crucial to form a dedicated response team comprising managers or leaders who can contribute valuable insights. This team holds the responsibility of actively engaging in the recovery process and overseeing specific tasks like restoring systems and operations. It is essential to select individuals who possess the ability to drive progress and make decisions when required.
2. Risk assessment and business impact analysis (BIA)
Before formulating strategies and procedures for your business functions, identify first the potential threats to your business and assess its vulnerable areas. Conducting a business impact analysis enables your company to understand the potential consequences of disruptions and losses on your financial and operational functions. This analysis helps evaluate which resources and assets should be prioritized for recovery and aids in the development of effective recovery procedures.
3. Business continuity strategies and solutions
Based on the risk assessment and analysis conducted, recovery strategies and procedures can be developed to uphold business functions and prioritize resources accordingly. These strategies encompass key components that are crucial for effective recovery:
- Emergency response plan — This entails a comprehensive set of guidelines aimed at minimizing the overall disruption impact on the business and ensuring workforce safety. It should include protocols for emergency response communication, evacuation routes, and emergency contact information.
- Crisis management — This plan outlines the contingency measures for communication, activities of key personnel, incident remediation, and decision-making during a crisis. It ensures that there is a structured approach to managing the crisis effectively.
- Operations restoration — The operational recovery plan focuses on safeguarding human resources and business assets while restoring essential functions following a crisis or emergency. This plan involves determining recovery time objectives, formulating strategies for security measures, work environment restoration, data center recovery, and establishing communication protocols.
4. Business continuity testing
Once the BCP has been formulated and approved, conduct regular tests and updates to ensure its effectiveness. Business continuity planning is not a one-time activity; it is an ongoing process that requires continuous evaluation and improvement. Regular testing improves predictability, minimizes risks, and keeps your plans updated and aligned with the constantly changing business landscape. By consistently reviewing and refining your BCP, you can enhance its reliability and increase the likelihood of successfully navigating through future disruptions.
FAQs About Business Continuity Planning
If you’re seeking to enhance your business continuity plan, explore our FAQs to find answers to your questions.
What is the goal of a business continuity plan?
The main purpose of a business continuity plan is to ensure the organization is prepared to respond to and recover from emergencies and disruptions, such as natural disasters and cyberattacks. This planning is a process of identifying the potential risks and formulating solutions to minimize the negative impact of such risks.
Why is business continuity planning important for preparing for natural disasters?
During natural disasters, business continuity planning proves beneficial to organizations by expediting recovery efforts through implementing mechanisms aimed at mitigating financial risks, minimizing downtime, and ensuring the safety of employees. BCPs encompass comprehensive measures and protocols to address all organizational risks in the event of natural disasters like floods, fires, or earthquakes.
Is business continuity planning only relevant for large organizations?
Of course not! No matter the size — small or enterprise — and wherever industry, every organization must be performing business continuity planning. If an organization does not plan for continuity, the management and workforce are not prepared to react and pick up from the occurrence of disruptions and their negative impacts.
Can business continuity planning help organizations respond to cyberattacks?
Yes! Your business continuity planning must cover every threat to your organization, including cybercrimes. Even with the most advanced security features, you may not be safe from data breaches which may cost you financial and information losses. A solid business continuity plan implements cybersecurity risk assessment to develop strategies for prevention and recovery from cyber threats.
What are the key components of a business continuity plan?
The key components of a BCP are the elements needed from conceptualization to implementation. These key elements include: the crisis management team, risk assessments, business impact analysis, strategies for prevention, response and recovery, and BCP testing.
Download our free actionable guide to business continuity planning to see how these components build your BCP.
How often should a business continuity plan be reviewed and updated?
As a best practice, your BCP must be reviewed and updated annually at a minimum. Business changes, industry changes, and other external factors must also be considered to be promptly reflected when updating the business continuity plan.
Create a Business Continuity Plan with Board Technology
Whether it’s a natural disaster or a cyberattack, unexpected situations can arise. A well-prepared business continuity plan, coupled with the necessary resources, is vital to enable companies to maintain their market positions and swiftly recover from adverse circumstances, ensuring minimal disruption to normal operations.
In the digital era, advanced technologies can play a significant role in developing a comprehensive business continuity plan. This development process should be a collaborative effort, incorporating insights from both management and staff.
To streamline collaboration, consider leveraging Convene, the trusted board management software , equipped with interactive and secure features that facilitate effective planning. Convene empowers meetings with video conferencing capabilities to easily communicate assessments and strategies for business continuity. Moreover, the software allows secure document management to collaborate on risk assessments and reports and store them in a secure, resilient repository.
Explore the many more features of Convene and discover how it can enhance your board meetings, document management, and overall business continuity efforts.
Audrey is a Content Marketing Specialist at Convene, in charge of managing the production of quality content on the company’s website. A communication major keen on marketing, Audrey has been constantly seeking approaches to create tailored content—may it be about governance, digitalization, boards, or meetings—fit for the stakeholders. When not strategizing on the next ebook to produce, Audrey finds solitude in reading make-you-ugly-cry novels and listening to self-improvement podcasts.
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