What Is a Business Continuity Plan? Steps for Creating BCP

February 20, 2024
what is a business continuity plan

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Even under the best of circumstances, running a business is challenging. Growing your business while still satisfying your consumers is a challenge. This requires focus, persistence, and a pinch of luck. No matter how well things are, there will always be a need to deal with the unexpected. You should think about how a national catastrophe or tragedy may impact your firm before it happens. If you want to be completely ready for a national disaster or emergency. You should develop a business continuity plan. This is a comprehensive overview of your company’s steps to keep operations running, mitigate any additional damage, and finally recover.

While taking the time to put up such a strategy may seem daunting. It might be crucial to your ability to weather a crisis and emerge stronger on the other side. You’ll likely see a drop in sales if a national catastrophe creates significant downtime for your company.

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

In the case of a significant disaster, whether natural (such as a severe weather event) or technical (such as a widespread power outage), a business‘ activities maintain or swiftly restore thanks to a business continuity strategy (e.g., cyberattack).

Without a backup plan, you might not be able to keep selling and shipping items in the event of an interruption in your normal operations. Your business’s capacity to bounce back from these unanticipated setbacks will suffer, affecting your bottom line and your reputation among customers.

One cannot rely on a business continuity plan as a backup catastrophe recovery strategy. Even while disaster recovery planning is a component of a business continuity program, the latter covers a far wider range of activities.

Why You Need a Business Continuity Plan

Do you ever ponder the reasons why some small businesses prosper while others fail within the first five years? Of course, each of these companies was founded with a single objective: to generate profit. It’s possible that their lack of leadership is to blame for their failure. Some may point to a lack of funding as the culprit. Intriguingly, this is because most individuals just don’t think ahead. You should ask yourself why you need a business continuity strategy. If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to be willing to take calculated risks.

The long-term success of your company depends on your ability to anticipate and neutralize any potential internal or external interference with normal business procedures. While there are likely numerous theories floating around in your head about how to best run your company, the following are some of the more sound ones that will help you keep your operations stable and secure.

1. Your Business Will Be More Prepared To Handle The Unexpected

The appropriate responses to a crisis are not something workers should be expected to know on their own. Leaving everyone to react in their manner will, at best, cause further chaos, and at worst, result in lives being lost. Having a BCP in place will help you document your processes ahead of time. Workers may learn how to defend themselves and make rational choices in times of crisis.

2. Your Business Will Have Safeguards In Place

It’s a widespread fallacy that having Business insurance means a company doesn’t require a business continuity strategy. Unfortunately, businesses can’t always rely on insurance alone. Loss of consumers, market share, or operational difficulties are examples of event aftermath that aren’t necessarily covered by insurance. Having a BCP document in place does nothing but improve the security of your business.

3. Your Business Will Invest in Itself and Its Ability To Bounce Back

Time spent on creating and updating a BCP is well spent, as it serves as an investment in your organisation’s future. Remember that your fixed costs will still need to be paid whether or not you are open for business after the event. The sooner your company can go back to normal after an unexpected setback, the greater its chances of making a full recovery.

4. Your Business Will Have the Plan To Continue Providing Acceptable Service After the Disaster

Loss of income and an increase in expenses may significantly impact a company’s bottom line if it suffers from a threat, interruption, or natural catastrophe. Don’t let something out of the blue, like a delay in manufacturing, slow down your company. Your company can keep working smoothly, keep clients, and keep making money with a business continuity strategy.

5. Your Business Will Better Preserve Its Corporate Reputation, Image and Revenue Stream

Businesses that plan for potential disruptions to operations are more likely to recover quickly and get back to business as normal. With a well-defined business continuity plan (and the right insurance in place), your company won’t have to make any rash choices in the event of an emergency.

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Elements of Business Continuity Plan

1. A Clearly Defined Team

No one should be left wondering who is in command during a crisis. Make sure you have representatives from every department and every location where your company does business on your business continuity team. These individuals will steer the organization’s reaction to both smaller-scale catastrophes and more widespread disasters.

For the plan to remain current and for them to learn the familiarity necessary to execute under duress during a real emergency, they should be involved in planning and testing throughout the year. Top-level buy-in is essential to ensure business continuity receives the necessary focus and resources.

2. A Detailed Plan

As you plan your company operations in different regions, keep in mind the potential for various types of interruptions. Plan for the worst and how to keep your most vital functions running smoothly. Prioritize the recovery of apps, people, and infrastructure based on business metrics such as revenue, regulatory consequences, brand issues, and consumer protection.

After your business continuity team has completed this analysis (which isn’t always simple), it may begin to develop recovery techniques and costs associated with each process. IT will be aided in ensuring that the business’s most important apps will be available within the predetermined RTO and RPO.

3. Effective Testing

A lack of a business continuity plan is preferable to having one that is out of date or inadequate since the latter would leave you scrambling in the event of an emergency. Whether it’s your IT infrastructure, your company’s goals, your operational structure, or anything else, you should review and update your strategy at least annually.

Moreover, run comprehensive simulations at least once a year that include everything from application recoverability to crisis communications.

4. Crisis Communications

A well-communicated emergency may be handled with far less chaos than one without. Develop a set of resources that can be used across all mediums of contact inside the organization, from telephones to electronic mail to public address systems to internal networks to instant messaging to texting to the corporate website itself.

Prepare emergency communications in advance by drafting sample statements that can be swiftly changed in the event of an emergency. Be sure to be ready to give a consistent message to the public via press releases, social media updates, and interviews with spokespeople.

5. Protecting Workers

Protection of life is paramount. Your program can benefit from the disaster response training and other direction provided by local organizations like the Red Cross, fire department, and police department, and federal groups like the FEMA Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT).

Procedures should be reviewed and tested regularly with all personnel and modified as needed to account for changes in the workforce, facilities, and locations.

6. Continuous Availability of Essential Company Resources

Employees must be kept on the clock to keep production up and safeguard sensitive information and avoid frustrating consumers. Individuals can get their jobs thanks to remote access solutions, whether at home, in a hotel conference room, at a friend’s house, or anywhere else.

Businesses that support remote workers and flexible schedules are miles ahead of the competition. People don’t have to adjust to disaster mode as an altogether new way of working; they may just use the same remote access tools they always used but in a new location.

7. Continuous IT Operations

The last component is ensuring data centre uptime. For reasons of both scalability and redundancy, most sizable businesses currently operate multiple data centres. People should be able to easily transition to another to continue using the same set of applications and data if one goes down unexpectedly or on purpose. Verify that your infrastructure, including your failover, load balancing, and networking capabilities, can accommodate this answer.

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Steps to Develop A Business Continuity Plan

The time it takes to develop an efficient business continuity plan is proportional to the company’s location, industry, and size. Some startups and small enterprises may put together one of these strategies in as little as a week, while larger corporations can take up to two months.

It’s a lengthy procedure that begins with setting goals for the plan and finishes with creating a training curriculum, test is there before an emergency happens with your team and employees.

Creating a business continuity strategy requires first knowing what goes into each phase of the process.

Determine the Plan’s Purpose and Develop Objectives

The first step in goal-setting is determining what it is you hope to achieve with your business continuity strategy. Think about how often you’d like your staff to run through drills. And how in-depth you want the plan to be. In other words, putting together a business continuity strategy is not enough. Your staff’s familiarity with the plan’s implementation is crucial to its success in the event of a national emergency.

While company processes are being interrupted, you can determine what results indicate a plan’s effectiveness and which benchmarks to monitor. Consider how many hours you put into research. How long it will take to train employees? And how much time will be spent on planning before creating a business continuity budget?

Your objectives may change depending on the nature of the crisis or tragedy. Generally speaking, it’s best to prioritize preventing income and employment losses as much as possible. When it’s time to put the plan into action, you’ll want a team that can keep everything in order.

Establish Vital Business Domains and Core Operations

As a result of the widespread disruption by a national disaster or emergency. You should prioritize your most important business sectors and crucial functions to ensure your company’s survival. For this reason, you must specify the nature of these operational and commercial domains. Identifying the parts of your business that would have the biggest negative impact. If they stopped working is the greatest method to prioritize your efforts. Loss of profits or tarnished credibility is two possible outcomes.

Take a close look at everything your company does. And put it into one of three categories: low, medium, or high. Your company’s business continuity strategy should revolve around the core operations whose loss would impact your firm most. Think about what it would take to do some of these tasks remotely. Moreover, You might be able to keep some of the most important tasks going without suffering too much of a financial hit.

Complete a Business Impact Analysis

In the case of a disaster or emergency. Doing a business impact study is important to find out how much of a hit it would be to your company. In the event of a crisis, this type of prediction can help vital parts of your business stay afloat.

You should account for all possible disasters and their varying degrees of seriousness in your BIA. In the event of a disaster or emergency. You should be ready to quickly choose what steps to take next using the data gleaned from the business impact study.

Create a Plan to Maintain Operations During Emergencies

Your firm’s ability to continue functioning in the face of an unexpected event is the primary focus of your business continuity strategy. Preventative measures, reaction plans, and follow-up recovery plans all round up disaster preparedness. During a crisis, you and your staff should know precisely what to do at each stage.

Preventative actions are the main emphasis of disaster preparedness plans. Preparing for an emergency by, say, putting in place a system allowing remote employees to log in and do their jobs might help limit the damage. Each division should provide you with a plan of action for dealing with an emergency that outlines what needs to be there right now.

Know what to tell your customers in the event of an incident that may cause downtime in addition to knowing how to get out of the building safely. When an incident is finally under control. The next step is to develop a plan to get your business back up and running as soon as possible. Creating a plan that details how long it will take to launch your business is essential.

Create a Plan for Evaluation and Instruction

Your employees and department managers must understand the three stages of a business continuity plan: prevention, response, and recovery. Having a testing and training program in place may help ensure that none of your staff will panic, which would only make things worse.

For instance, in the training, you provide your staff, emphasize that they should not spread rumours or unverified information on social media in the event of a tragedy. Your organization risks losing face if the rumour turns out to be false.

Business Continuity Plan vs. Disaster Recovery Plan

Business continuity plan

A business continuity plan considers the entire business ecosystem, including people, processes, facilities, supply chains, and customer relationships. The impact of broader disruptions on the organization’s operations and its ability to serve customers.

Disaster recovery plan

Disaster recovery plans focus primarily on technology infrastructure, data backup and recovery, system availability, and network restoration. It focuses on the effect of technology-related disruptions on business operations.

It aims to quickly get things back up and running after a computer crash, cyberattack, or other tech disaster. The importance of risk identification, business impact analysis, development of continuity strategies, crisis communication plans, and employee training. In short, business continuity is about keeping the business running, while disaster recovery is about getting the infrastructure back up and running.

For example, a call center that takes orders on an application. If the application goes down, the business continuity plan would involve having a workaround in place so that orders can still be taken. The disaster recovery plan would involve recovering the server that holds the application.

Business Continuity Impact Analysis

A vital part of the growth of a BCP is a business impact analysis. It endeavors to reach out to the impacts of disruption of business functions and working. It also encapsulates making decisions regarding recovery priorities and plans.

FEMA gives an operational and financial effect worksheet to serve the business continuity analysis. The worksheet should be accomplished by business function and working managers who are very familiar with the business. These worksheets will endeavor to summarize the following:

The Consequences — financial and operational that stem from the loss of individual business functions and working.

Additionally, it helps identify when the suppression of a function or process would result in the recognized business effect

Accomplishing the analysis can help companies recognize and necessitate the work that has the most effect on the business’s financial and operational functions. The main point at which they must endeavor to recover is generally determined as the “recovery time objective”.

Building a Business Continuity Plan

The steps of developing a business continuity plan:

Establish the scope of the proposed plan

Specifically, focus and implement a team, technology recovery team, and business recovery teams for undertaking BCP development. Management buy-in and commitment to the BCP process should also be established at this stage. Key reasons for having a BCP may be to protect employees, suppliers, and customers, as well as the business operations themselves.

Carry out a business impact analysis (BIA)

This analysis is carried out to try and determine the potential impacts that disruption to critical business operations may bring about, the external risks that may affect a business should be assessed. This can help establish the types of disasters which an enterprise may face.. The BIA can be facilitated by asking the following three questions:

What are the prioritized activities that are critical to the business’s core operation?

What other resources need to be obtained to resume these prioritized activities? This includes both internal and external resources such as vehicles, inventories, human resources, and electricity supplied.

What is the maximum period that disruption to the business operations can be tolerated? This provides the time frame for the prioritized activities to be resumed.

Develop strategies based on the collected information

The information gathered during the due diligence process to develop strategies that can assist an enterprise to tackle an emergency and to resume operations efficiently.

Define the major business sectors

Know the specific departments including IT, sales, accounts, human resources, back office, and front office outline each sector for the development of a response protocol.

Create a viable continuity plan to maintain operations

Keep the BCP up to date. For example, exercises and simulated disaster events can be carried out to update and review business continuity management plan.

Some business continuity companies are Archer Business Resiliency, fusion framework system, and international business machines.

Conclusion

If you want your firm to survive a crisis or emergency that disrupts your fundamental business processes, you need a business continuity strategy. These strategies will help your startup recover from the event with little damage. And continue to thrive in the future. Without a strategy, staff may become overwhelmed and make careless decisions that compound into major problems at a time. When you need to be focused on keeping essential operations up and running.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of a business continuity plan?

A business’s ability to bounce back quickly from setbacks is the first need. This implies that critical business processes develop with catastrophe preparedness in mind. The business continuity group conducts a vulnerability and risk analysis of each department. Moreover, this identifies potential weak spots and then builds safeguards to address them. As such, it bolsters continuing efforts at risk management. Stakeholders rank various capabilities and decide which ones one must buy online first. In fact, Restoring operations as quickly as possible after a disaster decreases the likelihood that the business will suffer long-term consequences.

What is business continuity management?

Business continuity management (BCM) is a framework that allows organizations to rapidly recover their operations in the event of a disaster. It includes identifying potential risks, such as cyberattacks or natural disasters, and implementing measures and protocols to reduce the impact.

What is the business continuity management system?

A business continuity management system, or BCMS is a management system that bundles interrelated methods, procedures, and rules to ensure critical business processes keep running in the event of damage.

What is business continuity?

Company continuity refers to the measures taken in advance. It ensures that essential business activities are there in the face of disruptions. Such as natural disasters or man-made catastrophes. Also, corporate crises, pandemics, workplace violence, and other events impairing company operations are also covered.
In the end, keep in mind that you need to make plans and preparations not just for incidents that will fully halt operations. But also for those that may negatively affect services or operations.

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