A business continuity plan (BCP) includes which of the following?
Should it include…
- Actions to protect key business functions?
- A disaster recovery plan?
- Communication protocols and procedures?
- Training and exercises?
- Details about the business continuity team?
The correct answer is “all of the above.”
A business continuity plan should not only be a plan of action, it should be a completely self-contained document that has everything needed to implement the plan.
If any pertinent information – such as contact details or forms – are left out, then team members will waste valuable time trying to track that information down. Leaving out such key information from the plan can also increase the risk of errors or mistakes.
Below, we’ll examine the most important information to include in a business continuity plan, above and beyond the actual response actions.
A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) Includes Which of the Following?
There are a number of recommendations about how to format and sequence a business continuity plan.
For instance, one common format follows a structure that looks something like this:
- General information about the plan, its purpose, and its scope
- The business continuity team structure
- The plan activation procedure
- Steps to follow in order to protect and restore key business functions
- Training and exercises
- An appendix of supplemental material
The format and structure of the plan certainly does matter, but the order of the sections can be somewhat flexible, depending on personal preferences and the content of the plan.
What matters most, however, is the actual content of the plan.
For instance, it is critical to include contact details for the business continuity team. However, the location of that information is less important that whether it is included at all.
For templates and recommendations about formatting, feel free to review one of the continuity plan templates on our blog – but for now, let’s explore why it is important to include the items mentioned so far.
General Information About the Plan
Virtually all business communication documents, from white papers to business continuity plans, include a preface or “executive summary” at the beginning of the document.
This type of summary is important because it summarizes the key purpose of the document immediately.
Readers can therefore understand whether the report is relevant to them and what the plan’s purpose in the context of a disaster response effort.
Business Continuity Team Structure
One of the main functions of a continuity plan is to ensure that the entire organization can respond efficiently and productively.
Providing key information about the continuity team – such as contact details, roles, and responsibilities – will ensure that the business continuity team and everyone else in the organization can stay in sync.
A Plan Activation Procedure
A single sequence of activities should initiate the plan.
These actions will usually begin with a single team member who will be responsible for contacting the rest of the team.
Once business continuity team members have been contacted and the plan has been initiated, the subsequent plan activities can begin.
Activities Aimed at Protecting Key Business Functions
During disruptive changes, some business functions must take priority over others.
For instance, if a disaster threatens an organization’s normal business operations, then the ability to deliver goods, services, and a customer experience should take precedence. Losses in this area can be devastating, both in the short- and the long-term.
Restoration and Recovery Activities
Some business continuity professionals distinguish between business continuity and disaster recovery. According to this perspective, disaster recovery plans should be separate and business continuity plans should only focus on maintaining business operations.
Others, however, don’t make this distinction, deeming this to be merely a semantic difference.
If business leaders and continuity managers take this stance, then disaster recovery activities should also be placed inside the document. These activities will outline timelines and actions needed to restore normal business operations as swiftly as possible – actions focused on IT disaster recovery, for instance, will aim to restore the digital workplace, IT infrastructure, data, and so forth.
Training and Exercises
Business continuity plans are not regular occurrences and many of the plan’s activities will be completely unique and untested.
In order to test the plan’s viability and train employees on the plan’s implementation, it is important to conduct drills, simulations, and training.
Since the business continuity plan should be a completely self-contained document, it is important to include this information in the plan.
Communication is critical during any crisis or disruption.
Not only should these guidelines explain who to contact and when, they should also outline how the information is to be presented.
After all, it is not always desirable to present the same information to all audiences – employees will inevitably be privy to more information than customers, for instance.
In the interests of saving time and reducing mistakes, it is also useful to include:
- Relevant forms, documents, and templates
- A change log for the plan
- References to additional response plans, such as emergency response plans
- Contact lists
The more information that is included inside the plan, the less employees will need to search for or reference outside material.