How To Create A Business Continuity Plan: A Beginner’s Guide

business continuity plan
Business faces many threats and disruptions from cyberattacks, data leaks, and more. It is up to you to contain these issues by having a plan to tackle them. This is where a business continuity plan ensures you can minimize the impact of such disruptions on your business. 

If you also want to create a business plan but need help knowing where to begin, you have come to the right place. Here is a complete beginner’s guide on how to create a BCP. 

Business Continuity Plan: What Is It? 

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is a comprehensive strategy that organizations develop to ensure the operation of critical business functions and processes during and after disruptive events or emergencies. The primary aim of a BCP is to minimize the impact of such events on the organization’s ability to deliver products or services, maintain customer relationships, and sustain its operations. 

Some of the core elements of a BCP include the following: 

  • Risk assessment: Identify potential threats, hazards, and vulnerabilities that could disrupt business operations. This involves understanding natural disasters, technological failures, cyberattacks, supply chain disruptions, and other potential risks
  • Impact analysis: Assess the potential impact of various disruptive scenarios on the organization’s operations, financial stability, reputation, and customer satisfaction 
  • Response and recovery strategy: Develop strategies for responding to different disruptions. This could involve backup and recovery solutions, alternate work locations, remote work arrangements, data recovery plans, and communication protocols 
  • Resource allocation: Identify the necessary resources, both human and technological, needed to execute the recovery strategies effectively

There are many other components of a BCP, but these are the most important ones you must focus on. It will enable you to guarantee that your operations continue smoothly even after disruptions. 

Disaster Recovery Vs. Business Continuity 

Many businesses confuse disaster recovery and business continuity services. Understanding the difference between the two is crucial to understand the plan you must create. Our technical experts have explained the difference below for your understanding: 

Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery primarily refers to an organization’s processes and procedures to restore its IT systems and data after a major disruption. This disruption could be a natural disaster, a cyberattack, a hardware failure, or any event that causes the loss of critical systems, data, or services. The main goal of disaster recovery is to minimize downtime and data loss by quickly recovering the organization’s technological infrastructure to a functional state.

These are technical plans that solely focus on recovering from a disaster. They are part of an overarching plan to recover from any disaster. 

Business Continuity 

On the other hand, business continuity encompasses an organization’s broader set of strategies to ensure the continued operation of critical business functions and processes during and after disruptions. While disaster recovery focuses on IT systems and data, business continuity addresses the entire scope of an organization’s operations, including processes, people, facilities, and more.

The BCP is a much larger plan and encompasses everything. So, before you move onto your disaster recovery plan, you must have a broad business continuity plan for your organization. 

How To Create An Effective Business Continuity Plan

Now that you have some insight into business continuity plans and what it offers, it is time to learn how to create an effective one. Here are all the important steps you can follow to create a plan without any hassle: 

Mobilise The Right People 

The most important thing you need is the right people on the BCP team that understand what to do. Here are some important members you will need on the team: 

  • Information Officer: The IO will be responsible for sharing and accessing all the data related to the BCP 
  • Program Coordinator: This person will be the team leader coordinating the activities related to the plan. These include development, budgeting, etc
  • Executive Manager: Such a manager will lead the writing process and will be the point of contact between the BCP team and company executives 

Make sure these people have the relevant expertise. Once you have the right people, you can move on to step two. 

Define The Business Continuity Plan Goals 

Ask yourself what you want to achieve with the business continuity plan. The answer will provide clear guidance on what you must do to achieve these goals. Having goals in place allow you to develop the right systems to come closer to the finish line. 

We also recommend setting a budget to understand the resources you will need for this plan. It will give you an idea of what you will need to execute your goals. 

Talk To Important People In Various Departments 

An important part of creating a BCP is talking to people with a complete picture of the organization. After all, the issues that disrupt business continuity happen at every level of the organization. Note down all the organization’s departments, and figure out the key team members in each department. 

Then, ask these people a few questions that will give you a deep dive into how those departments operate. Here are some important questions you can ask them: 

  • What are some of the most important processes of your department?
  • What is the biggest blind spot in the department?
  • How does (name of another department) depend on your work?
  • What applications or systems does your department need to support operations?

Once you have this information, you can move on to step four in this process. 

Prioritize Important Business Functions And Threats

The answer to the questions you asked in Step 3 will give you a glimpse into the business areas that require the most business continuity. It will help you determine the threats these areas can face, the likelihood of them taking place, and how much loss you might face and the impact. 

Such information will enable you to prioritize the functions most important to your business and the threats it can face.  You can then conduct an extensive risk assessment for your business. 

Conduct A Comprehensive Risk Assessment 

Now that you have all the preliminary information for the business continuity plan, it is time for a risk assessment. The primary aim of conducting such an assessment is to quantify the information you gathered in the previous stages. For example, you can quantify how much revenue your business might lose during a disruption. 

In the same way, you can conduct productivity losses, additional costs needed for the plan, liability costs, and more. All of this will provide useful information that you can utilize for better plan creation. 

Conducting A BIA (Business Impact Analysis) 

Compile all the information you have gathered until now to conduct an extensive analysis of your business. The primary aim of a BIA is to analyze the key operations of your business, how they relate, and the resources they use. It is a key component of the business continuity plan as it will help you summarize all the important findings and prioritize everything accordingly. 

Draft The Business Continuity Plan 

Your BCP will go through various drafts, and now it is time to create the first draft that will serve as the foundation of the final plan. Here are some important things to include in the draft: 

  • Time, aim, and budget of the plan 
  • Members and their responsibilities 
  • The BIA 
  • Strategies you will implement to prevent issues and crisis 
  • Proactive and reactive strategies 
  • Testing and training schedules 
  • Recovery efforts in the long run

Once you have the final draft, you can begin testing the plan, as it will enable you to understand whether your plan is practically applicable or not. 

Testing And Revising The Plan 

Begin the testing by communicating all the important people in your plan. When they understand their involvement, it will be easier for you to put the plan to the test. You can also note any gaps in the plan during this time. 

Then, revise the plan and fill in any gaps or flaws that have shown up during the testing phase. You can also keep on testing and implementing changes until you get an outcome you are satisfied with. Keep updating the plan occasionally to ensure it is relevant to your business processes.

Final Thoughts 

By now, you have a complete business continuity plan that will enable you to minimize any threats or disruptions to your business. If you need more expertise to create and implement such a plan, we recommend hiring the best business continuity services in Toronto, such as Q4 Gems. We have years of experience in this area. 

Our dedicated professionals have also worked with countless businesses, and we understand how to create a comprehensive plan that suits the needs of your business. You can contact us today for more information regarding our complete managed IT services in Toronto. 

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