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How to create a business continuity plan

Posted by Alfie McDonald on October 11th 2022

In day-to-day work, things can go wrong. Perhaps an employee has clicked on an email link, compromising your entire network. Or maybe an accidental office fire, has meant you have lost important data and had to stop all operations. In these situations, a business continuity plan ensures you know what to do next.

If you’re unsure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve explained everything you need to know about business continuity plans and what they should include, so you can safeguard your organisation from profit-killing disasters.

What is a business continuity plan?

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document outlining the processes and procedures your business will follow so you can continue operations during periods of unplanned disruption. This could include natural disasters such as fires and floods, cybersecurity breaches, global pandemics, network disruptions, or human error.

Essentially, a business continuity plan safeguards your employees, assets, and property during a disaster. Additionally, BCPs ensure you can get back up and running as soon as possible, giving you greater resilience against unplanned business interruptions, property damage, financial loss, and even fatalities.

Isn’t a business continuity plan just the same as disaster recovery plans? While disaster recovery and BCPs should work together, they have fundamental differences. BCPs consider all areas of your business, but disaster recovery focuses only on IT systems and cybersecurity plans.

How to create a business continuity plan

Business continuity plans require careful consideration and planning. Therefore, it’s important to think through each step in detail, ensuring your business is as prepared as possible.

First, conduct a risk assessment to identify the most vulnerable areas of your business. Generally, this should cover employees, the business premises, customers, suppliers, partners, systems and processes, finances, IT, legal and regulatory compliance, and logistics.

Next, identify who’s responsible for writing the document and deciding on the plans to put in place. Then, write the BCP, ensuring it includes the following:

  • Objectives and goals
  • Key responsibilities
  • Critical functions
  • Business impact analysis
  • Operations plan
  • Plan limits

Reviewing your business continuity plan

Reviewing and updating the business continuity plan is just as important as writing it. You should also reassess the BCP when introducing new systems, procedures, teams, or changes.

Importantly, all employees should read the document and understand their responsibilities in a crisis. Then, if needed, send the business continuity plan to key customers or suppliers for additional visibility of your procedures.

Finally, remember to create multiple copies of the BCP and store them in secure offsite locations. The last thing you need to lose during a disaster is your continuity procedures.

How long does business continuity planning take?

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to business continuity policies. The time it takes to create a BCP varies from business to business depending on many factors, such as your industry, services, daily operations, available software and hardware, risk analysis results, and the amount of pre-planning you’ve conducted.

For instance, a manufacturing company based in a flood-prone area, with many processes, resources, and company threats, may need some time to gather and evaluate all information and risks. While a high-street retailer located in a built-up area, with fewer resources and processes probably faces fewer risks and therefore doesn’t need many continuity arrangements.

It’s important to remember that BCPs are living documents, so they should be updated regularly. Creating a BCP is a continuous process designed to be built upon, rather than just another task to tick off.

Ultimately, the aim is to ensure the BCP plan works for your business, so it’s fully effective in times of crisis. To help you plan effectively, consider the following:

  • Using local knowledge to source suitable contingency locations and emergency equipment.
  • Delegating tasks to reliable and knowledgeable staff to determine effective procedures and finalise the plan.
  • Using business expertise and well-researched information to evaluate and plan for risks.

How can BCN help with business continuity planning?

Business continuity planning sounds complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Sure, there’s a lot to consider, but that’s why BCN is here to help streamline the process and ensure your BCP is as effective as possible.

Our three-step business continuity approach means we get to know your business in detail, fully understanding your processes, procedures, and risks. We work with your business to create a personalised business continuity strategy, giving your business the resilience it needs no matter the disaster you face. Get in touch with one of our continuity experts to learn more about how we can help your business.