A business continuity plan checklist can save time and energy, streamlining plan development and ensuring that no important items are left out.
Naturally, not every business continuity plan will cover the same territory, so not every single item will be relevant to every plan.
However, it’s much better to have a checklist with more points than you need. Unnecessary items can simply be left out when developing a plan.
In this article, we’ll look at 15 essential items to include on your business continuity plan template or checklist.
15 Must-Have Items for Your Business Continuity Plan Checklist
Here are a few of the most essential points to include in a continuity checklist, which can be customized to fit your needs and the purpose of the plan.
1. Risk assessment
A risk assessment is often conducted by risk management professionals or other relevant parties within the organization.
This assessment examines which potential hazards or threats could impact an organization. That information, in turn, can be used to outline mitigation, prevention, and response strategies.
2. Business impact analysis
A business impact analysis is designed to gauge the impact that certain types of disruptions would have on a business.
While a risk assessment determines the level of risk or threat, an impact analysis predicts how those disruptions would impact operations, finances, performance, and so forth.
Both of these will determine the strategic course that a continuity plan will follow.
3. Context and scope
At the beginning of a continuity plan, it is important to set the stage by defining:
- Which business units are covered
- The type of disruptions being addressed
- How this continuity plan fits into the overall response effort
A brief description of these details will help readers quickly understand how relevant the document is to them personally and what it’s purpose is, which should also be defined in detail.
Many business continuity plans focus on protecting key business functions, recovering lost assets, and restoring normal operations.
It is important to outline this purpose clearly and succinctly, since continuity plans may be conducted in conjunction with other plans, such as emergency response plans.
5. Business continuity team details
The implementation and management of a plan will be assigned to a business continuity team.
In the event of an emergency or a disruption, that team should be contacted as soon as possible, which is why it is important to list the team members’ names, contact details, business department, as well as each one’s role.
6. Training and exercises
Training will help employees stay competent and familiar with the details of the response plan, ensuring that they can perform their duties efficiently if the plan is actually implemented.
Drills and exercises will give employees a chance to practice those skills, while also allowing managers an opportunity to determine the feasibility of the proposed plan.
7. Emergency response plan
An emergency response plan differs from a continuity plan, in that it is designed to be executed in the first few minutes or hours of a major emergency.
Since business continuity plans may cover other types of disruptions besides emergencies, this may not always be included.
If emergencies are included within the plan’s scope, then the actual emergency response activities should be included in a separate document and linked to within the continuity plan.
8. Key business functions to protect
One of the main purposes of a business continuity plan is to protect vital business functions.
The procedures and actions listed here will be tailored to fit the specific scope of the plan, which will be informed by the first two steps listed above.
9. Restoration and recovery procedures
Recovery and restoration are also important aspects of any business continuity plan.
These steps should outline recovery priorities, objectives, and deadlines, as well as the specific actions to take in order to achieve those objectives.
Timelines should be included for all of the major actions within the plan.
A proposed schedule can help employees gain a big-picture perspective quickly and efficiently.
11. Communication protocols and templates
Communication guidelines should cover who to contact and in which order, as well as what information should be communicated to each party.
Templates can be useful to include here, since they remove guesswork and ensure that those guidelines are followed.
12. Contact lists
Contact lists will make it easy for continuity team members to contact the most relevant personnel, without having to waste time searching for contact information.
These contact lists can include the business continuity team, as well as all other relevant parties, such as customers, government agencies, business leaders, and so forth.
13. Status reports
Status reports are used after a continuity plan has been implemented.
These forms, like surveys, can offer insight into the plan’s performance. That information, in turn, can be used to improve further iterations of the plan.
14. References to other response plans
A business continuity plan may complement several other types of response plans, including:
- Continuity plans that cover other business units
- Emergency response plans
- Disaster recovery plans
Adding that information here will ensure that employees understand how this continuity plan fits into the larger response effort.
15. Additional forms and required documents
Any other forms, documents, or templates can be included in an appendix.
Ideally, the business continuity plan should be as self-contained as possible, which can limit the need to search elsewhere for the required information.