How to Make a Business Continuity Plan

by Robert Best on November 8, 2019
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What would you do if your business was no longer able to work? Do you know the steps you need to take to bring your core functions back online? Major disruptions can hit a business at any time so knowing how to keep your business working could be the difference between the business surviving or not.

Backup and disaster recovery software company, StorageCraft, reported that downtime costs the average business $926 (£722) per minute.

To protect your business you should have a business continuity plan in place. To help you create your own plan we have identified the key steps for creating a plan for your business.

What is business continuity?

Business continuity is the act of maintaining business functions or resuming them after a major disruption has occurred. Countless things can disrupt your business. They include cyber attack, or physical events like fire, flooding or power cuts.

A business continuity plan is a procedure a business follows to restore business functions after any disruptions. Although similar business continuity and disaster recovery are not the same. Disaster recovery focuses purely on IT infrastructure and is just one part of a full business continuity plan.

Why business continuity planning is so important

A good business continuity plan will keep your business productive during or after a disruption. A business continuity plan aims to keep the business functional so you can still serve your customer and your staff are able to work.

Even small delays in either can result in the business losing money and in the former's case a loss of reputation. For a small business, one hour of downtime costs on average £6695.

How often should a business continuity plan be tested?

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This will often depend on the size of your business. Bigger organisations usually have more complex systems and of course more staff. For larger companies, we recommend reviewing the plan frequently.

For most businesses, the following schedule should be adequate.

  • Review your checklist half-yearly.

Review the elements of the business continuity plan twice a year to make sure it's still appropriate for your current status and business goals.

  • Conduct an emergency drill every year.

Just like a fire drill its good practice to have an emergency drill to prepare staff for the steps in your business continuity plan.

  • Conduct a comprehensive review every year (or whenever major changes are made to the business.)

Take a deep dive look into the plan every year. Or if a major change happens to the business, additional staff, for example, review the plan to see if it is still viable. If the change is significant enough, like moving to a new office, then, of course, you will need to rework the plan.

  • Runs a mock recovery test every two to three years

A full test can be time-consuming so it's hard to do regularly but run one every couple of years and you will find any gaps or weaknesses the plan might have.

Writing your business continuity plan

  • Decide the purpose and the range of the business continuity plan

First, define the purpose and the range of your plan. Depending on the size and structure of your business you might have different departments or locations who will have their own requirements.

If so then you have to choose whether to make one whole plan or create a plan for each area of the business. For most businesses, we would recommend creating a plan to cover the whole of the business.

  • Determine responsibilities

Next, you will need to decide who is responsible for carrying out the plan. You may choose to put one person in sole charge of the plan or delegate across the business.

Smaller businesses might be able to have just a single person in charge. Even if that is the case other staff members will need to be involved to cover for absences.

You might also want to decide who will have control over any budget you allocate to the business continuity plan.

  • Conduct a business impact analysis (BIA)

A BIA is used to analyze the main operations of your business. This will identify all the major resources in the business, how operations relate to each other and how they are used by your staff.

Here you need to prioritise each function of the business and the need of each one to stay productive. For example, if you're a bakery you need an oven to be able to make your products. In a disruption having access to an oven is key to maintaining productivity.

  • Draft out your business continuity plan.

Now you know what areas you need to include in your plan you need to draft the plan. Your draft should include:

    • The purpose and objective
    • Budgets and timelines
    • Those responsible and involved in the plan
    • The business impact analysis
    • A proactive strategy for immediate response to a disruption
    • Long-term recovery actions
    • Training and testing schedules
    • Test the plan and look for gaps

A business continuity plan may look great in theory but once it is completed you need to test it to make sure it covers the whole purpose of the plan. You are looking for gaps or any steps that might become confused when being followed for real.

Take what you do find and update the plan and test again. When you are happy the plan will keep your business functioning in a disruption the plan is completed.

  • Communicate the plan

A business continuity plan is no good being left in a drawer gathering dust. The whole business needs to be aware of it and understand any part they play in its enactment. Explain to the business how and when the business continuity plan will be put into action.

Summary

Countless occurrences can cause major disruption to a business, the chief one being cyberattacks. So being able to recover the core functionally of your business is key. The more time spent offline or not being able to function the more harm it can do to your business.

This goes beyond just the immediate loss of money. There are many other factors, such as loss of reputation, that will damage your business and even end up shutting it down.

InfoTech Solutions offers a business continuity service designed to keep your business running when disruption hits. For more information visit our business continuity page, or call us on 01634 52 52 52, or email hello@infotech.co.uk

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