In business, every threat may result in the same consequence: the loss or temporary cessation of key business processes. Business continuity management is a planning process that assists in managing the risks that may threaten a company’s survival. A business continuity plan should be applied to every business, small or large, to provide a framework to ensure operational resilience in the event of any disruption.
While creating a business continuity plan, key details and alternate provisional elements should be considered. The following provides a basic outline for a Business Continuity Plan.
1. Plan distribution list: Names, addresses and contact information of those that retain paper copies or electronic access to one or more plans.
2. Key contacts: Identify all primary and secondary key contacts that must be made aware of a business interruption. It is important to routinely verify contact information for accuracy.
3. Key staff roles and responsibilities: Develop job specific checklists and procedures detailing responsibilities from business continuity implementation through recovery. Task teams should be formed, at a minimum, to cover each essential business process. It may be necessary to provide cross team training, in the event that primary team members are not available.
4. Off-site recovery location: Include address, contact info, available on-site equipment, and any necessary external equipment for effective operations.
5. Recovery action plan: Identify/develop incremental processes and procedures necessary to recover each critical business process. Response checklist timelines may include increments such as, 1st hour, 24-hours, 48 hours, one week, one month, and long-term recovery.
6. Key customers’ data: Identify communication methods and necessary contact information in order to inform customers of disruptions of deliverables. Effective customer relations and communication may be critical in retaining clients and maintaining positive relationships during a business interruption.
7. Key supplier contact list: Identify dependencies and interdependencies along with key contact information. Transportation delays could affect delivery times; therefore the plan should address this issue.
8. Alternate suppliers list: The consequences of a supply chain failure on associated key business components can be crippling. Through the planning process, alternatives can be explored to reduce the impact of supply chain disruptions.
9. Insurance details: Identify details of insurance coverage and accurate contact information. The burden of proof when making claims typically lies with the policyholder. Accurate and detailed records are imperative.
10. Back up data details: Identify details of computer backed ups and recovery methods.
11. Technology requirements: Identify necessary hardware and software, and the minimum recovery time requirements for each business unit.
12. Equipment requirements: Identify equipment requirements for each business unit and recovery time goals.
13. Review and revise: Incorporate newly identified hazards and vulnerabilities into the business continuity plan. Include necessary equipment used (requiring replacement or replenishment), altered processes, and lessons learned.