Data breaches, natural disasters, and other business disruptions can significantly impact your business, but they don’t have to. By understanding and applying the key elements of a business continuity plan (BCP), you can reduce the threat of disasters by guaranteeing a quick recovery.
A BCP serves as an emergency response plan that is put in place to ensure your business processes are maintained around the clock – even when an unexpected disaster occurs.
However, creating a complete business continuity plan requires specialized IT knowledge. With more than 90% of enterprises already completed their digital transformation, IT expertise has become increasingly integral to every possible business disaster.
At the same time, it’s also necessary to possess a thorough understanding of the essential elements of a business continuity plan. Without one, businesses are ill-equipped to face disasters – which is a startling fact given that an estimated 48% of small businesses don’t have a BCP in place.
In this article, we’ll explore what should be included in a business continuity plan, and discuss how you can create a business continuity plan of your own.
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity – The Differences
While similar (and often used interchangeably), DRPs and BCPs differ greatly from each other.
The main difference between the two is that a DRP helps businesses resume IT access post-disaster, while a BCP helps businesses remain operational.
What are the Elements of a Business Continuity Plan?
Now that you understand the difference between disaster recovery and business continuity, let’s take a closer look at some of the key elements of a business continuity plan.
1. A Dependable Business Continuity Team
When disaster strikes, your team can’t afford to waste any time determining who is responsible for getting things back on track.
Your business continuity team should consist of key personnel who are not only trained to respond to crises, but who also participate throughout the disaster recovery and business continuity planning and testing stages.
These key employees should include personnel at all levels of your company, including local branches.
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2. Contact Information
Once your business continuity team is assembled, another key component is making sure you’re able to communicate essential information to all affected parties immediately with a list of contact information that includes:
- Backup operators
- Third-party vendors
- Anyone else crucial to your BCP
- BCP team members (and their roles)
3. An Effective Crisis Communications Plan
Don’t let the outside world hear about your disaster from someone else first. Get ahead of a potential fallout with an effective crisis communications plan that includes templated social media posts and press releases that you can tailor to deal with any situation.
4. An In-Depth Risk Assessment
In order to plan for potential risks, you must first determine what those risks are. A risk assessment, another key component of a business continuity plan, is the process through which you identify risks (e.g., natural disasters, cyber attacks, flooding, etc.) and vulnerabilities (e.g., people, property, reputation, etc.).
5. Business Impact Analysis (BIA)
Perhaps the most vital component of a business continuity plan, the BIA identifies the impact that disruption would have on all aspects of the business.
This should include potential legal, financial and reputational consequences of disasters, and should outline what you require (including an estimated time) to recover.
6. A Detailed Response Plan
Once you’ve completed the aforementioned key components of your business continuity plan, it’s time to create the plan itself.
As one of the most important elements of a business continuity plan, your response should be exhaustive and take into account every risk, vulnerability and impact you’ve identified.
You’ll also need to rank your risks based on likelihood and vulnerabilities based on importance, and determine which impacts would be most damaging.
Based on this, you can decide on the strategies you’ll use to both respond to disasters, and prevent them (e.g., regular data backup). This is a process that your team shouldn’t take lightly, and one that you likely can’t complete without help from your in-house IT team or experienced managed services provider.
7. Testing Your Business Continuity Plan
Even the most expertly designed business continuity plan components can become meaningless if they’re not kept up-to-date through regular testing.
Effective testing ensures that your plan fits your current needs, based on any changes to your IT infrastructure, business processes, etc.
This element should include regular reviews (and, as necessary, updates) and simulations. A solid MSP will spearhead the testing for you, and guarantee that you’re always prepared for the worst.
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Understanding the elements of a business continuity plan is important for every business leader, but familiarity alone is not enough to protect your company.
If your business is trying to create a business continuity plan, or needs assistance with updating your existing one, we can help.
At Technology Advisory Group, our experts have helped companies across Rhode Island and New England mitigate business disruptions by helping them understand the key elements of a business continuity plan to improve their resilience and emergency response.
For more information about how we can help you develop and implement a plan of your own, contact us today to schedule a consultation with our business continuity specialists.