What Is Business Continuity Planning?

To effectively run your business, you must prepare for the worst. Learn about business continuity planning and its five key components.

Prepare for the Worst With Business Continuity Planning

Preparation is the best line of defense against business-closing events, failures, and accidents. This article aims to define an integral aspect of preparation planning and to identify the five components of business continuity planning.

Table of Contents

What is Business Continuity Planning

Business continuity planning (BCP) is defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology as: “The documentation of a predetermined set of instructions or procedures that describe how an organization’s mission/business processes will be sustained during and after a significant disruption.”

A Business Continuity Plan is a critical tool that can set your business up for success in the event of both small and large-scale disruptions. This term is often paired with disaster recovery, but while the two plans are often developed together, each strategy has key differences.

The five key differences between business continuity and disaster recovery are:

  • Organizational Priorities: Business continuity ensures that a business remains open and operating with minimal disruptions. Disaster recovery is the attempt to limit complications due to systems failure and restore those systems as quickly as possible. Consider the focus of BCP to be on maintaining/continuing operation vs. the goal of disaster recovery, which is mainly focused on recovery.
  • Scope of Action: BCP usually focuses on all aspects of the business — anything that the business needs to run will be accounted for in this type of calamity planning. Disaster recovery mostly focuses on IT and data storage.
  • Commencement: Business continuity plans are deployed when disruptions or issues arise. Disaster recovery generally starts after the business continuity process has begun and is often one of the steps within the BCP.
  • Conclusion: Business continuity actions conclude when a business returns to business as usual. Disaster recovery ends when the IT infrastructure is completely restored to pre-disaster functions.
  • Analysis of Risk: The risk analysis of BCP seeks to encapsulate the entire business and all of its operations, functions, and assets. Disaster recovery planning mostly reflects potential threats to IT and data.
business continuity planning and disaster recovery

What Are the 5 Components of a Business Continuity Plan?

The five components of a business continuity plan help businesses meet operation-disrupting accidents and catastrophes head-on with minimal room for error, confusion, or added chaos.

A 2020 Mercer study seeking to reveal business preparedness at the start of the pandemic found that 51% of companies globally did not have a business continuity plan in place. This created vulnerabilities that resulted in over 700,000 U.S. businesses closing their doors forever.

#1: Business Impact Analysis and Risk Assessment

The first step in business continuity planning is creating an inventory of all of your business’s essential assets. Identify the most business-impacting assets first and categorize the most likely risks. Sort each item and risk based on criticality and context and rate them from 1 to 5.

Potential threats can be triggered by intentional or accidental events caused by human error or natural phenomena. Examples of these events can include:

  • Viral pandemics
  • Power outages
  • Vital employee absenteeism
  • Banking uncertainty
  • Computer and server shutdown
  • Ransomware attack
  • Bomb threat
  • Severe weather
  • Earthquakes or wildfires

When you begin to identify items and risks to address in your business continuity planning, try to focus on the biggest threats. Start with the basics, the meat and potatoes, then gradually move your way up into more elaborate planning. Highly mature programs are 4.9 times more successful than early-stage or premature programs.

Consequences for a lack of or poor business continuity plan could range from small costful inconveniences to apocalyptic enterprise-ending events. These instances are not one-off rare occurrences; for example, around 51% of businesses will face the impact of a natural disaster within the first two years of operation.

#2: Development of a Response Plan

Effective business continuity plans must include clear, impactful strategies and actions when responding to events where key resources become unavailable. Vital resources that may be affected by disruptions include:

  • Workplace
  • Workforce
  • Equipment
  • Communication with clients and employees
  • Vendors and third-party services
  • Data and technology

Your BC plans should include the “how, what, why, and where” when assessing potential risks for each asset and resource. You may also want to consider partnering with outside help.

For example, if your workplace is rendered unusable, a part of your response plan may be moving all operations to remote work. For this transition to smoothly transpire, you might need the help of a dependable IT team.

During the 2020 pandemic, Fixed Fee IT helped their clients execute plans and shift away from the office to work from home. This process was successful and efficient because of the pre-planning and pre-implementation of technologies that made the shift possible.

We support industries that heavily rely on IT and technology services to thrive. These industries include but are not limited to:

  • Accounting
  • Legal
  • Wealth management
business continuity planning and disaster recovery

#3: Role and Responsibility Assignments

One study found that, on average, larger organizations dedicate 16 employees or associated professionals to their business continuity planning programs. The more engaged and organized your BCP team is, the more resilient your business will be in the face of setbacks. The same study also found that programs with a high level of associate engagement are 4.3 times more successful in BCP planning.

Roles in a facility response plan might include individuals who will:

  • Be decision-makers and hold financial authority
  • Inform other employees of the condition of their employment.
  • Provide company representation to clients and customers regarding operations.
  • Notify partners and vendors of service interruptions.
  • Assess which assets have been damaged.
  • Assure that all items on the emergency checklist are being managed and addressed.

Roles should include backup individuals in the event that the primary role holder is not available.

#4: Team Communication

When calamity strikes, the impact may kick up dust and cause confusion. If your team does not have strong channels for communication to weather unfortunate circumstances, your response plan may fall apart.

In instances where a business’s main line of customer and employee communication fails, it may be important to have an alternative method of communication.

This may look like storing a hardcopy or off-site digital copy of contact information including phone numbers, secondary email addresses, home phones, addresses, and even rally points, and ensuring multiple role holders have access to this key information.

#5: Continual Testing and Training

As mentioned earlier, when first developing your business continuity plan, it is important to address the biggest risks and issues. Sit down with your BCP team and run through scenarios. Any holes you might find can be filled to further strengthen your plan.

Business Continuity Plan testing should be conducted a couple of times a year. The goal is that everyone involved is familiar with the plan and knows what to do because learning the BCP during the event is almost as bad as not having a plan at all.

How Fixed Fee IT Can Help Your Business Enhance Its Business Continuity Plan

For over 28 years, Fixed Fee IT has been helping businesses in the Portland area successfully develop and implement their business continuity plans.

What can you expect when partnering with us?

We are industry-leading in cybersecurity and compliance. We provide companies and business owners with proactive IT strategies and management. We are a team of individuals who are committed to the service, security, and success of our clients.

While other IT service providers only put out fires, Fixed Fee IT helps businesses ensure they are properly prepared and protected for the worst. Contact us today to enhance your business continuity planning setup.

business continuity planning and disaster recovery

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