One of the best ways to learn about business continuity plans (BCPs) is by studying a business continuity plan example, or template.
After all, an example template can be built upon and modified for use in one’s own organization.
In this article, we’ll examine a sample template that covers some of the most important points to include within a plan.
A Business Continuity Plan Example and Template for Better BCPs
Here are the most important sections to include in a business continuity plan:
The first part of a plan should include basic information about the document, including:
- The purpose of the plan. Different continuity plans will have different aims, depending on the nature of the disruption and the type of plan.
- Business units covered. Large organizations may develop different plans for different business units, while smaller organizations may only have a single plan designed for the entire company.
- Types of disruptions addressed. Different types of disruptions call for different responses. A natural disaster that affects the physical workplace, for instance, will call for a different response than cyber attacks.
- Projected effects of disruptions. A business impact analysis will offer insight into the potential ramifications and financial impacts of a disruption.
This section is only designed to introduce the plan, not outline any of the actual recovery procedures.
Roles and Responsibilities
A business continuity team will be responsible for the implementation of a plan.
The team’s composition will vary depending on the purpose of the plan and the type of disruption, among other relevant factors.
This section of the plan should list…
- The team members. Each team should be composed of employees with the appropriate skill set to handle the disruption. A continuity plan designed to deal with IT-related disruptions, for instance, should have a team composed of relevant IT specialists.
- Their roles and responsibilities. Team leaders will be responsible for coordinating the response efforts, while other members will be tasked with specific activities, which are covered in the following section.
- Contact information. It is important to have team members’ contact information easily accessible. This will make it far easier for team members to communicate and stay connected.
It is important to keep this section updated, as well as all of the other sections outlined here, since outdated information can prove very counterproductive.
The response plan will include:
- The timing and sequence of response activities. The first activity to focus on is notifying the appropriate parties, including the continuity team members, business leaders, and customers.
- Measures designed to protect critical business functions. One of the most important purposes of business continuity management is the protection of critical business functions. Relocation or remote working, for example, can be useful ways to ensure that employees can continue working when disruptions make it impossible to work on-site.
- Restoration and recovery procedures. After key business units and functions have been protected – and once circumstances permit – restoration and recovery efforts can begin. As mentioned, the exact activities will depend on the nature of the disruption, which is why it is important to develop multiple business continuity plans that explore several scenarios.
Different types of response plans will address different scenarios, so the response activities will naturally vary depending on the circumstances.
Training and Exercises
Training ensures that employees can stay competent and effectively perform their duties in the event of a disruption.
Ideally, training should include simulations and exercises that actually put the plan to the test. By conducting live exercises, it will be possible to actually determine whether the proposed response activities will work or not.
Also, live tests and exercises will give teams the ability to spot potential flaws or weaknesses in the plan and make improvements.
Both training and live tests should be conducted on a periodic basis, to keep employee skill levels from falling behind.
Additional Information and Resources
An appendix placed at the end of the report can include:
- Required forms and documents. This section should contain status reports, expense logs, time logs, and other forms that will be used during the response. Contact lists can also be included here for easy reference.
- References to related plans. Business continuity plans will often be implemented in conjunction with other plans, such as an emergency response plan or a crisis communications plan, so it is important to reference and link to them here.
- Guidelines related to the maintenance of the plan. Every plan should be periodically reviewed, tested, and updated, so that information – along with a revision history – can be included in the appendix.
It is important that the business continuity plan act as a one-stop resource, so that continuity teams can respond quickly and appropriately. Since time is of the essence during disasters and disruptions, employees should not have to waste time searching for forms, information, or resources.