Book A Demo Today

What is Business Continuity?

Published on November 15, 2022

Jump to a section


If you are a new business owner, or you are new to business continuity planning, you might be overwhelmed with the terminology that you encounter on a regular basis. Therefore, it is important to define what business continuity is because this knowledge will be the basis for all other disaster recovery efforts.

Is your business ready for unexpected events? The answer to this question is where the definition of business continuity lies, and you must find that answer.

3 employees sitting at a table and working on a business plan.

What is Business Continuity?

Business continuity refers to the planning and preparation required to ensure that your organisation can maintain business operations even during times of unexpected events. Various emergencies can disrupt your business process; they can either slow down your operation or stop it altogether.

Business disruptions can be any type of event, such as natural disasters, workplace violence, pandemic, or cyberattacks. When doing business continuity planning, not only do you have to prepare for the potential of these events to cripple your business operations, but you also have to assess the impact of these events on your critical business functions to ensure and maintain operational resilience.

Why is a Business Continuity Plan Important?

A business continuity plan is at the heart of your disaster recovery plan. Unfortunately, many organisations neglect its importance because they never realise its value until a disruption strikes.

When a crisis happens and you don't have a solid business continuity plan, you're in trouble. It's too late if you come up with business continuity measures at that point.

As mentioned earlier, unexpected disruptions to your business can take on any form or shape. It can be something as simple as an emergency power outage or more complex like natural disasters and global health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic that we've lived with and through recently. The ultimate goal of business continuity plans is to ensure you are ready, even if a minor or major event transpires.

If you have prioritised your business continuity planning process before the event strikes, you stand to enjoy these benefits:

People in the office looking at graphs.

Your organisation doesn't have to worry about unexpected events.

    During a crisis, your employees are under tremendous stress and worry. Therefore, you cannot expect them to stay calm and make informed decisions. If you leave your employees to respond to crises at their own will, you are not guaranteed that you're taking the best course of action that will benefit your business operations and its recovery efforts.

    With a business continuity management system, the steps you take as an organisation are clearly outlined. The specific roles and responsibilities are identified to ensure that you respond smartly and with the best interest of the organisation in mind. You can restore your business functions in the shortest amount of time possible.

    You can safeguard your business assets.

      Your business processes are considered one of your most important assets. Developing a business continuity plan plays a vital role in minimising damage and protecting your business processes. Even if you have insurance, it might not always be enough to protect your business and ensure business continuity. Hence, you must take a proactive approach with your business continuity strategy rather than leave it all to your insurance provider.

      You can continue your business processes and operations.

        Threats and disruptions can cause your business to slow down. It can also cripple your business operations, which may last longer than expected and cause even more damage to your business. When this happens, you lose out on your potential to stay profitable. The more days you are not operational, the more profits you stand to lose.

        Make sure you keep your business running to retain your customers and keep earning, while also providing a livelihood for your employees.

        You can maintain your business reputation by investing in your own ability to recover.

          One of the most important reasons to focus on business continuity is that it will directly benefit your brand and reputation. Your resilience during times of crisis shows a lot of stability in your business and organisation in general.

          On the other hand, a business continuity strategy is your way of investing in your own business to be able to cope with any unanticipated event. If you succeed with your business continuity plans, you will earn the trust of your stakeholders and customers.

          How to Build a Business Continuity Plan?

          Creating a business continuity plan is not something you can do over one night. It takes extensive planning and risk analysis. However, given the importance of a business continuity strategy, it is something that every resilient organisation must have.

          Follow this 7-step guide to building a solid business continuity strategy capable of handling any type of crisis or threat to critical business functions.

          7 Steps to Business Continuity Planning

          Step 1: Identify the most critical functions in your business.

          Taking a risk-based approach is vital to ensure business continuity. You can prioritise your response to the emergency depending on which functions of your business are needed to ensure operations, and find ways to minimise its impact.

          Step 2: Identify your goals and objectives.

          It is also important to know the recovery point objective and recovery time objective. The recovery point objective refers to the amount of data you can lose from an incident and still ensure business continuity. On the other hand, recovery time objective refers to the amount of time it would take to restore the critical functions that allow your business to resume operations.

          Step 3: Identify your business risks.

          You need to categorise every type of risk and the scope of its impact on your business operations. Therefore, you can map out the steps you need to take to mitigate those risks and lessen their impact.

          Step 4: Come up with mitigating strategies for your business risks.

          You need to analyse every possible mitigation strategy to cope with the risks in your business organisation. Once you have the information, you can develop policies and procedures to address these risks.

          Step 5: Monitor your business continuity plan.

          Your business continuity plans should align with present risks so that you can act accordingly in response to the nature of the crisis. Moreover, you have to keep monitoring and evaluating results for success.

          Step 6: Get various departments involved.

          You need to develop a team to manage your crisis response efforts and ensure disaster recovery. This approach allows you to identify interdependencies and how you can maximise your team's efforts and ensure rapid recovery from disasters.

          Step 7: Keep track and report the results of your business continuity management.

          You need to report and keep track of the results of your existing business continuity plan. This report will reveal patterns that can inform your future business continuity planning efforts. Therefore, you are not only prepared for immediate crises but also plan better for any future interruptions.

          Business Continuity vs Disaster Recovery Planning

          An essential step in defining business continuity is to distinguish its difference from disaster recovery planning. These two terms are often used interchangeably; however, they play different roles in your overall efforts at ensuring business continuity.

          Business continuity, as the name implies, focuses on maintaining business operations or keeping your business open even during or after a crisis. On the other hand, disaster recovery planning focuses on restoring normal business operations at the soonest time possible.

          The nature of the approach to recovery also differs between these two concepts. Business continuity is concerned with limiting the operational downtime for your business. Meanwhile, disaster recovery strategies are concerned with limiting inefficiencies in the business processes that can impact its ability to stay operational.

          Critical Functions for Business Continuity

          There are several critical functions that you need for an effective business continuity measure. Addressing these critical areas helps improve your organisation's ability to continue its business operations.

          Small business' employees holding hands as a team.

          • Emergency Management: Having BC policies in place allows your employees to respond to emergency procedures in the most efficient manner.
          • Disaster Recovery: Your business continuity strategy must protect and preserve critical business functions to avoid negatively impacting your operations.
          • Facilities Management: Businesses with office space, storefronts, warehouses, or any physical address must come up with a strategy on how to protect these spaces from vulnerabilities.
          • Supply Chain: Any disruption in the supply chain can impact your business operations. Make sure you have a contingency plan in place to ensure continued access to essential business resources.
          • Health & Safety: The safety and well-being of employees are important to ensure business continuity and continuous operations. Even if you have good recovery strategies, they are of no value if you don't have employees to implement them.
          • Security: Security covers various aspects of your business in terms of protecting against potential threats and facilitating recovery efforts. You need to have access to IT resources for storing data and limiting data access with proper security controls.
          • Knowledge Management: Your intellectual property rights and access to critical business processes are vital in your continuous operations. Make sure they are protected as you implement your recovery strategies.
          • Communication: Prompted and open communication ensures the proper execution of your business continuity strategies. Business continuity planning is an ongoing process; make sure that any critical issues are brought to the team's attention before, during, and after a crisis.

          Business Continuity: A Must-Have for Every Business

          Business continuity is not just a good thing to have; it's a must for any business to survive. You should dedicate resources, manpower, and time to develop a solid business continuity plan and make sure that the strategies you implement are a fit for the unique needs of your business based on the assessed risks.

          C2 Meridian is a web-based tool designed to assist the day-to-day management of your business' Operational Resilience & Business Continuity Management System. Learn more about our Business Continuity Management Software today and find out how we can provide assistance for your organisation.

          Everything you need to know about Business Continuity, straight to your inbox

          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.