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Creating a Business Continuity Plan

Published on December 04, 2023

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Organisations of all sizes are increasingly recognising the importance of business continuity planning. While many understand the value of BC plans, there's often a gap between this understanding and the actual development and implementation of business continuity plans.

Business continuity planning is not just a precaution; it's an essential part of ensuring that a company can maintain its critical functions in the face of a disruption. Without a BC plan in place, companies might find it difficult to operate smoothly during disruptive events. In fact, 80% of businesses suffering a major incident close within 18 months if they have no effective business continuity plan.

The good news is that creating a business continuity plan is a proactive step towards safeguarding your business. It involves preparing for potential disruptions and ensuring that your organisation can continue to operate effectively, no matter what comes its way.

With the right plan in place, your business can navigate through uncertainties and continue to thrive, demonstrating resilience and adaptability in a dynamic business environment.

Here's an overview and what to consider when creating a business continuity plan, covering these key steps:

  • Understanding Business Continuity Planning
  • Assessing Business Needs
  • Developing a Business Continuity Plan
  • Leveraging Technology in Business Continuity
  • Testing and Maintaining a BC Plan
creating a business continuity plan

Understanding Business Continuity Planning

At its core, business continuity planning is a strategic approach that involves identifying potential risks and proactively preparing to address them.

It's more critical than ever for businesses to create a BC plan, especially now that the business landscape is marked by rapid technological changes and heightened global interconnectivity. Business continuity planning forms a solid foundation for businesses, regardless of their size, enabling them to withstand challenges while preserving their reputation, enhancing employee morale, and securing customer trust.

With proper BC plans, businesses arm themselves and their employees with the necessary tools and insights to effectively navigate and manage potential threats to their business operations. This proactive approach is key to maintaining stability and ensuring continuous business performance in the face of adversity.

Assessing Business Needs

In the United Kingdom, the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 recognised the importance of business continuity management by requiring frontline responders to maintain internal BCM arrangements and local authorities to promote BCM to commercial and voluntary organisations. These are some key questions GOV.UK suggests businesses should consider:

  • What are your organisation's key products and services?
  • What are the critical activities and resources required to deliver these?
  • What are the risks to these critical activities?
  • How will you maintain these critical activities in the event of an incident (loss of access to premises, loss of utilities, etc.)?

It's true that before business continuity plans can be written, you must understand the organisation's BCM needs. This understanding can be informed by identifying critical business functions via a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) and assessing risks.

The first step is to identify the main products and services that the business delivers. This sets the stage for a more detailed analysis. A Business Impact Analysis (BIA) plays a vital role here as it helps in pinpointing the critical activities and the resources that support the main products or services of the organisation.

Once critical business functions are identified, risk assessment can be conducted. Risk assessment involves identifying potential threats to the organisation (and its key products or services) and evaluating their likelihood. Remember, every business faces its own unique set of threats and risks. This distinctiveness is influenced by a variety of factors, including the type of business, the industry it operates in, and its specific operational or business processes. The insights gained here are invaluable in shaping the BC plan.

Through these assessments, organisations can develop a comprehensive understanding of their specific BCM needs. This knowledge is essential for building a business continuity plan that is not only effective and robust but also tailored to the unique context and requirements of the business.

Developing a Business Continuity Plan

In an ideal world, there should be a business continuity management team to develop BC strategies and policies, manage emergencies, and ensure swift and efficient responses to crises. Common roles within a business continuity team can be broadly categorised into direct roles (e.g., BC Manager/Operational Resilience Manager, Crisis and Incident Manager, and IT Disaster Recovery Manager) and supporting roles (e.g., Risk Management Analyst, Legal and Compliance Advisor/Officer, Supply Chain Officer/Coordinator, and Human Resources).

However, a dedicated BC team may not be feasible for small businesses due to limited resources and personnel. Instead, they can assign the responsibility to a few key individuals or even a single person, depending on the size and structure of the business.

Also read: How to Create a Business Continuity Plan For Small Business

Now, you can start creating a business continuity plan.

Effective business continuity management (BCM) requires both incident management plans and business continuity plans. Incident management plans are crucial for handling the immediate effects of a disruptive event. They include strategies for critical initial responses, such as staff evacuation and media communication, allowing the organisation to manage the initial impact efficiently. On the other hand, the business continuity plan is designed to ensure the maintenance or swift recovery of key products and services identified through the Business Impact Analysis (BIA). This plan is fundamental in sustaining the organisation's essential functions during and after a disruption.

In the realm of BCM, both generic and specific plans play a vital role. A generic plan is a comprehensive plan that prepares an organisation for a wide array of potential disruptions. It outlines the common response elements applicable to any disruption, such as invocation procedures, command and control structures, and access to financial resources.

However, given the varied nature of risks, specific plans may also be necessary. These are tailored to address particular risks, sites, or services and are designed to supplement the generic plan. Specific plans provide a detailed set of arrangements that are activated when the generic response is insufficient for a particular scenario. They ensure a targeted and effective approach to unique challenges posed by specific risks.

creating a business continuity plan c2

Leveraging Technology in Business Continuity

Integrating technology into business continuity planning is more than a necessity; it's a strategic imperative. With the growing reliance on digital processes and data, the resilience of technological infrastructure becomes a cornerstone of any robust business continuity plan.

Let's look at some key technological solutions that organisations should consider to enhance their business continuity strategies.

Data Backup Solutions

Data is often referred to as the new oil in the digital economy, making its protection a top priority for businesses. Effective data backup solutions are critical for safeguarding an organisation's data against loss or corruption. This involves implementing robust, scalable, and secure data backup systems, such as cloud-based storage and off-site backups, to ensure data integrity and availability even in the face of disruptions. These solutions provide the backbone for restoring critical information swiftly, minimising the impact of data-related incidents on business operations.

IT Infrastructure Resilience

Building a resilient IT infrastructure involves not only fortifying hardware and network systems but also ensuring software resilience against various threats. Strategies like regular updates, patch management, and advanced cybersecurity protocols play a vital role in protecting against data breaches, malware attacks, and other IT vulnerabilities. A resilient IT infrastructure also includes having a scalable and flexible system that can adapt to changing business needs and technological advancements.

Business Continuity Management Software (BCMS)

The use of specialised business continuity software, such as C2's Meridian BCMS, can be a game-changer. Our industry-agnostic solutions streamline the development, implementation, and management of business continuity plans. C2's Meridian offers modules like Business Impact analysis (BIA), risk assessment, and incident management, among others, all integrated into a single platform.

Meridian BCMS helps build a resilient business by providing real-time insights, facilitating communication during crises, and automating key aspects of the business continuity process. Not only does the software aid in efficient crisis management, but it also ensures that the organisation's business continuity strategies evolve in line with emerging threats and technological advancements.

business continuity planning

Testing and Maintaining a BC Plan

The effectiveness of business continuity plans does not rely solely on how they are created. Instead, it is measured by how well it stands in the face of adversity and the dynamic nature of risks in the business landscape. Rigorous testing, revision, and continuous improvement are critical to a successful BCP.

Employee training is a crucial aspect of it, too. A well-informed team are pivotal to executing the business plans and overcoming the nuances of the BCP. The employees must be agile and proactive enough to respond to any situation, big or small.

Equally crucial is identifying gaps and inefficiencies in the plan. Simulating different scenarios and performing drill exercises are part of the process of gaining insights into an organisation's preparedness for such disasters.

Develop a Business Continuity Plan for Your Organisation

Business continuity plans are ever-changing and adaptable to the external conditions of the business environment. It requires constant updates and refinement.

With so many key resources and components to synchronise, robust business continuity management software is a crucial investment for a company. It ensures a fast, efficient, and organised implementation of continuity plans, enhancing an organisation's overall readiness for whatever disaster might strike.

Request a demo to find out how C2 can help you create a business continuity plan that ensures compliance and enhance your resilience efforts.

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Written by Richard McGlave

Founder & CEO at Continuity2

With over 30 years of experience as a Business Continuity and Resilience Practitioner, Richard knows the discipline like the back of his hand, and even helped standardise BS25999 and ISO 22301. Richard also specialises in the lean implementation of Business Continuity, IT Service Continuity and Security Management Systems for over 70 organisations worldwide.

Richie c2 profile
Richie c2 profile

Written by Richard McGlave

Founder & CEO at Continuity2

With over 30 years of experience as a Business Continuity and Resilience Practitioner, Richard knows the discipline like the back of his hand, and even helped standardise BS25999 and ISO 22301. Richard also specialises in the lean implementation of Business Continuity, IT Service Continuity and Security Management Systems for over 70 organisations worldwide.