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Business Continuity Plan Template

Business Continuity Plan Templates

Business continuity plans (BCP) are an overarching strategy describing the ways in which the business will continue to operate in the event of a local disruption due to natural or man-made disasters. Business continuity planning is an important activity that ensures consideration is given to how and where people would work to carry out the business, how IT and logistics operations would continue and how business operations would then be normalized when possible.

While planning for business continuity, it’s helpful to have a business continuity plan template. The business continuity plan template makes it easier to document the plan in an easy-to-follow manner and can be provided to each department for documenting their internal plan, then rolled up into an overarching business continuity plan. This turns the template into a business continuity plan template sample each department can use during their planning, making it easier for them to document the outcome consistent with the rest of the organization.

Business Continuity Plan Template

One important aspect of a business continuity plan template is that it provides a single location to collect all critical contact information: key stakeholders and continuity management staff, department contacts, local officials, vendors and so forth. This should be maintained both online and in hard copy or otherwise available to all staff involved in invoking and carrying out the business continuity plan.

The business continuity plan template has another purpose; it enables the organization to audit their business continuity plan, testing against the controls they have in place for their business continuity risk scenarios.

How a BCP Template Helps Prepare the Organization

The business continuity plan template provides the organization with a repeatable process for defining and updating the business continuity plan across all critical departments. It provides a business continuity plan checklist to complete the planning, document the plan and then audit controls regularly.

Creating a business continuity plan checklist Excel document provides a document teams can use to collect the contact information suggested below, resulting in contact sheets that become a valuable output of the business continuity planning effort. These contact sheets enable the organization to have critical information close at hand during an emergency and provides information that is specific enough for each critical department’s needs.:

  • Contact information for all business continuity team members and department heads
  • Contact information for local government and utilities (police, fire departments, hospitals, power and phone companies, etc.)
  • List of all vendors involved in continuity plans, including customer number and contract information

The next section of the plan should detail all potential risks addressed in the plan and the recovery steps for them. This part of the plan should include detailed procedures for executing recovery steps. There is tremendous value in providing a business continuity plan template sample to each group that they can use in their planning, including some of the following benefits:

  • A business continuity plan template provides a format each team can use so that the final result is a consistent plan, with information that can be easily found within it.
  • Providing a business continuity plan sample ensures each group involved in planning their department’s response considers all areas necessary. People are not experts in business continuity planning, and having a sample document provides them with a checklist of activities they can complete.
  • The business continuity plan template ensures that recovery efforts can be executed efficiently as the team is used to the format and can quickly find key information and procedures. This, too, is a valuable aspect of using a consistent format, as people often don’t think clearly in emergencies, so ease of execution is critical.

The business continuity plan template sample should be easy to understand and complete. A sample copy can be found here.

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Things to Consider in a Business Continuity Plan

Emergencies are confronting, and preparing for them takes both time and money. As planning gets underway, there are a few things to consider in creating the plan and then items to be considered in the plan itself.

Planning Considerations

Consideration #1: Evaluate and communicate the time and money it will take to conduct the planning effort so people don’t lose focus and stray.

Business continuity planning is a long-term effort that should start by creating a business continuity project plan template. This template can be provided to each department as part of the initiation and kickoff, as it ensures they do the initial planning needed and can predict when their plan will be ready. It also ensures visibility into the resources needed to develop the plan.

By starting with a single business continuity project plan template, the full project plan can be developed, ensuring adequate resource and financial planning is done for the planning process. Without a full understanding of what it takes to complete the program, efforts can fail as people get busy with other initiatives.

Consideration #2: Recovery or resiliency programs will take investment. The team should be ready to communicate the benefits of their plan and the business value it provides.

Consideration #3: The plan won’t execute itself. Training and testing the plan are critical success factors. Staff training and rehearsals go a long way for people to execute when they are under the extreme stress emergencies cause. This is why we’ve been doing fire drills from an early age.

Consideration #4: Most staff people have never been trained in creating a business continuity plan. The business continuity plan template sample will make it easier for teams to understand what they need to do.

As far as things to consider in the plan, there is a shortlist of items that are typically considered:

  • The types of events that could affect the business, the scenarios they will cause and the mitigation strategy for each.
  • Identifying critical business components and what it would take to re-establish them (or make them redundant for improved resiliency)
  • Ensuring contracts are needed with appropriate vendors so the business can be reestablished.

All of these considerations, from planning to the plan’s content, are managed in a good business continuity plan template.

Checklist for Business Continuity Plan (OR) What YOUR Business Continuity Plan Should Include

There are a few key stages to business continuity planning, that once concluded, become the business continuity plan documentation and which should be included in the business continuity plan checklist:

Building the business continuity plan (BCP) template should begin with defining the critical areas each plan should include, for example:

  • Contact information
  • Risk register and mitigation strategy
  • Detailed recovery/failover procedures
  • Training programs
  • Testing and audit procedures
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Once the plan is documented, this checklist of items becomes your business continuity plan audit checklist as well.

Business continuity planning is based primarily on event types and risk. There are two types of risk to consider and align when building a business continuity plan template risk matrix, the type of event and the risks it presents. For example, event types can include:

  • Regional and building damage due to a natural disaster or terrorism, both during operational hours and after hours
  • Active shooter situations, bomb threats
  • Power or utility outages that make it necessary to evacuate and continue operating
  • System outages or cyber-attacks that affect critical services (or other major incidents)

For each type of event, the business risks should be listed. For example, in the event of a disaster in the building during operational hours, consider:

  • The need to evacuate and ensure all personnel are safe
  • How and where critical work will continue to be done: work from home, hot sites, backup corporate locations etc.
  • How the team will communicate until formal communication systems are up and running
  • How customer-facing or revenue-producing services

Once the risk matrix is built, ways of mitigating the risk should be documented:

  • Evacuation procedures
  • Meeting places and check-ins
  • Alternative working locations
  • Alternative locations for specific logistics functions: warehouses, shipping, manufacturing and data centre services
  • Procedures for activating and getting locations set up
  • Establishing communications

While these are not exhaustive lists, they provide guidance on the types of information that should be included in the risk register and mitigation strategy portion of the business continuity plan template.

The rest of the plan includes the detailed risk mitigation or recovery procedures to be taken when the event occurs.

The training and testing plans should also be documented as they ensure the team is fully prepared to execute each recovery effort should the time come. This is a crucial component of the effort as it ensures the business value of business continuity planning can be realized.

CG Technologies have helped many with their business continuity plans. They offer a range of services to protect your business data and IT infrastructure should the worst ever occur to you. Find out more.