A business continuity plan (BCP) is an important document for any business’s long-term success. It outlines how an organization will continue to function in the event of a disruptive disaster or emergency.
There are many areas that should be included in a business continuity plan, and it can be difficult to know where to start and how to comprehensively cover each necessary function of your business. To help you get started, we’ve compiled some of the key components of a good business continuity plan.
Why Do You Need a Business Continuity Plan?
The first question you might have is, “Why do I need a business continuity plan?” After all, with luck, you’ll never have to use it!
However, a business continuity plan is an important piece of insurance for your business. It gives you peace of mind knowing that you have a plan in place should the worst happen. Just look at the last couple of years, COVID-19 left many businesses scrambling, especially those that didn’t have continuity processes in place! You can never rule out the possibility of a crushing incident such as a data breach or natural disaster, so it’s much better to prepare in advance than face the unknown unprepared.
What Should a Business Continuity Plan Include?
So what goes into a solid BCP? Here are some key components:
First, you need to identify the risks that could affect your business. This might include things like a fire or flood, theft, data loss, a system failure, or even a pandemic. Once you know the risks, you can start to put a plan in place to mitigate them. You may want to prioritize your identified risks by their likelihood or severity.
Include a list of key contact details in your business continuity plan. This should include the names and contact details of essential staff, suppliers, and customers. You might also want to include contact details for relevant government agencies or emergency services. This list will be a chain of communication that you can use in an emergency to keep all important parties on the same page.
Plans for Maintaining Critical Operations
Your business continuity plan should include processes for maintaining critical operations in the event of an emergency. This might involve things like setting up a temporary office or remote work capabilities.
You will need to think about how you will keep your customers and suppliers informed of any changes to your operations. A business continuity plan will help you evaluate which business functions are essential and how they can be established, communicated, and maintained in an emergency.
Disaster Recovery Protocol
Your business continuity plan should include a disaster recovery protocol. This will outline how you will get your business back up and running after a disaster. It might involve things like relocating your office or restoring data from backups. Some of the steps of disaster recovery protocol include identifying the incident, activating the plan, recovering critical systems and data, and returning to normal operations.
IT Inventory and Strategy
If your business relies on technology, and whose doesn't nowadays, you’ll need to include an IT inventory and strategy in your business continuity plan. This should include a list of all essential software and hardware, as well as contact details for your IT support team. You will also need to plan for how you will keep your systems running in the event of a power outage or other disaster.
Data from Testing
Finally, you should test out your business continuity plan before a real disaster happens to ensure it will work as planned. This might include running scenarios like fire drills, power outage simulations, or penetration testing.
You should include the data from your testing in your plan and update processes accordingly to make improvements based on your test runs. Testing will help you to fine-tune your business continuity plan and ensure that they are effective.
Putting Business Continuity in Action
A business continuity plan is an important part of any business. These components can get you started, but it takes a lot of work and effort to create and maintain an effective BCP as your business grows. However, when you take the time to identify risks, design your plan, and put it into action by testing and revising it, your business becomes that much more resilient and able to withstand even severe disruptions.