Developing a Business Continuity Plan

What Business Continuity is… and Why It’s Important

Business Continuity Impact Analysis Recovery Strategies Testing & Maintenance Plan DevelopmentHave you ever wondered how your business would continue to serve customers with critical products and services after a disaster? Do you know what those critical products and services are? Do you know what processes must continue within your operations to provide these essential products and services?

Disasters Happen… Is Your Business Ready?

Disasters happen; a risk assessment will help identify which disasters an organization is most vulnerable to. Disasters occur from unpredictable events, such as natural disasters, extreme weather, fires, floods, pandemics, and cyberattacks. A business continuity plan (BCP) provides a business of any size the opportunity to answer the questions stated above, identify risks, document mitigating procedures, quickly access contact information.

The three key elements of a BCP are resilience, recovery, and contingency. Elements of resilience include data and system redundancies, maintaining a surplus capacity, and cross-training employees on critical processes. After a disaster, restoring an organization is vital, and prioritizing the most important systems and processes for business recovery is crucial. Strategies for recovery may include systems and applications, third party agreements, and additional inventories. The contingency plan includes procedures for external situations such as leasing emergency office or factory space, hardware replacement, and damage assessments.

A Plan to Recover

A BCP documents how a business will address the loss of facilities, personnel availability, and information technology systems. While developing a BCP, it is important to understand what functions are most critical to supporting essential activities. This process is called business impact analysis, and it identifies the period in which specific functions must be restored (e.g. 24 hours, 3 days, 1 week, 1 month). Once this is understood, the organization can begin developing the BCP to include plan activation procedures, internal and external communications, alternate facilities, and delegation of authority. The plan should also include employee and vendor contact lists for quick reference and be immediately available in the event of a disaster.

Practice Your Plan

After developing the BCP, remember to practice regularly, at least annually. A simulated disaster tabletop exercise is a good test for a BCP and can identify improvement opportunities for the overall plan.

The development of a BCP can be an overwhelming task. But it is an essential task. There are resources available. FEMA provides a Small Business Continuity Plan Template, which is available online:

The SBA provides resources on how to get started on your BCP at

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