How to Create a Business Continuity Plan

A business continuity plan is more important than ever. Hackers, bad weather, rolling blackouts, and now a global pandemic all show companies the importance of planning for a catastrophic event. Preparation is key to understanding how quickly a business can get back on its feet.

Unfortunately, many companies are only as good as the last disaster. But by following a few simple guidelines, any company should quickly bounce back after a major incident.

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What Is a Business Continuity Plan?

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) plan describes the procedure a company needs to carry out to continue operating after any disruption. Unlike a Disaster Recovery Plan, a BCP goes beyond explaining the steps needed to restore technology resources and services. Instead, a BCP discusses how the entire business should move forward.

Large organizations are generally more prepared for a business disruption than their smaller counterparts. This is because most large corporations deal with more direct and indirect threats from internal and external forces. However, businesses of all sizes need to develop a continuity plan.

How to Create a Business Continuity Plan

Don’t Get Caught Up Planning for the Worst

Above all, keep things simple. Many companies overcomplicate their business continuity strategy by focusing on the absolute worst-case scenarios. For instance, planning for earthquakes in an area not prone to them should be considered, but not at the expense of more logical occurrences.

There are some things you shouldn’t or can’t plan for.

Limit the scope of your business continuity plan to actual threats, and remember: there are some things you shouldn’t or can’t plan for.

Hold Business Continuity Meetings

Having monthly meetings to hold the person or team responsible for business continuity is crucial to success. During these meetings, the team should present the current version of the BCP, assign out individual tasks, and examine and rank new threats. Keep everyone engaged and ask questions regarding events that are happening today.

These meetings can also be used to run the plan as if it was occurring in real time. If possible, the business continuity team should conduct drills every quarter to test the plan and make stakeholders aware of what needs to happen when a disruption occurs.

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The point is, business continuity planning is extremely important. The key to successful execution is to not get tangled in arguments over what should be in the plan when a disruption is already occurring.

Business Continuity Is an Ongoing Process

There is a tendency to forget or push off the business continuity meetings when things are quiet again. Vigilance is required; keep thinking about what may happen to the business.

However, business continuity teams need to understand that not everything is an apocalyptic disaster. Keep a finger on the pulse of internal and external events, have monthly sessions, quarterly testing, and document any changes to the plan. Further, the team should regularly communicate to the organization, especially the executive team and board.

Be sure everyone understands what to do, who to call, and where to go.

Smaller businesses might have a single person assigned to continuity planning, but they should do the same things a team would. Regardless of your team’s size, be sure everyone understands what to do, who to call, and where to go when the need arises.

Don’t Panic

Finally, don’t panic. Many companies provide business continuity services, which might be a good option for larger enterprises. Most small to medium companies can find resources to create a business continuity plan with little to no guidance.

The Federal Government’s business continuity plan guidelines are a good starting point if you’re unsure. Be prudent and review the steps outlined. If needed, seek a professional, reputable business continuity firm that specializes in your organization’s needs.

Create Your Business Continuity Plan

Business continuity isn’t just about technology. It is the overall procedures that keep the business going when things go wrong. Companies should plan for worst-case scenarios, but be practical in your business continuity scope and testing.

To be prepared, you should have monthly meetings, conduct quarterly drills, make changes when necessary, and most importantly — don’t panic.

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Kent Barnett
Kent Barnett is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For the past 35 years, he has been an instrumental player in the related fields of business, technology, and entrepreneurship. In the late 1990s, he founded his first company, which was later acquired by a multinational corporation. Barnett relocated to the technology corridor of Northern Virginia, where he has continued to build his expertise while providing advisory services to many national and international companies.

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