In this article, we’ll outline a business continuity plan template for small businesses.
Having a template can save time, money, and streamline the creation of a business continuity plan.
For small businesses, a continuity plan can be a lifesaver, since business disruptions can be especially painful. While business continuity consultants can provide a great deal of value, they can also be costly.
One solution to this conundrum is to use a template to create a business continuity plan.
Why Create a Continuity Plan?
There are a number of benefits to creating a business continuity plan, including:
- Improved organizational performance and resilience during disruptions. Disruptions to business operations can be very harmful to an organization’s performance and its bottom line. In worst case scenarios, certain disruptions can actually force organizations to contract their operations or even go out of business entirely. By planning for and mitigating the negative impacts caused by these disruptions, continuity plans can improve organizational performance and significantly reduce losses.
- Decrease recovery timelines. Effective implementation of business continuity plans can reduce the time it takes to restore full operations. Naturally, this will positively impact every other area of the business, from organizational performance to the customer experience to the bottom line. In other words, a shorter recovery timeline translates into lower losses across the board.
- Compliance with industry regulations. Many industries actually require that organizations actively maintain business continuity plans, especially when performance impacts will have significant impacts on their customers’ well-being. Finance and healthcare, for instance, are regulated industries that have specific requirements regarding the maintenance of business continuity programs.
- Increased trust from customers. Customers and clients are far more willing to put their trust in an organization that maintains a business continuity program. This is understandable, since a disruption to one business can easily affect other businesses. In a supply chain, for instance, one organization’s ability to deliver goods and services will impact the entire supply chain.
Of course, to actually obtain these benefits, it is important to develop and execute a business continuity plan.
Prerequisites for Business Continuity Planning
To gain the most value from a continuity plan template, it is necessary to fulfill a couple of prerequisites.
A risk assessment identifies potential threats and hazards that could impact an organization, which can include a wide variety of potential risks, such as:
- Natural disasters
- Workplace accidents
- Supply chain disruptions
- Economic instability
- Digital disruptions
- Cyber threats
This information can then be used to prioritize planning efforts: disruptions that pose a greater threat should be addressed first.
To determine which disruptions pose a greater potential list, it is also necessary to conduct a business impact analysis (BIA).
The business impact analysis is aimed at predicting the actual impact that a disruption will have on business operations and finances. That information is used to establish recovery objectives and timelines – it is also invaluable when deciding which continuity plans to focus on first.
With these taken care of, it will be possible to develop an effective business continuity plan.
A Business Continuity Plan Template for Small Businesses
Below are the most important items to include in a business continuity plan:
The first section of the document will introduce the plan and provide general information, including:
- The title of the plan
- The current version and date
- The name of the document maintainer
- The purpose and scope
All of this information will help readers understand the nature of the document, whether it is relevant to them, and it’s purpose.
The main plan itself will define:
- The activation procedure
- Activities aimed at protecting key business functions
- Relocation or remote working procedures
- Restoration and recovery activities
- Communication procedures and protocols
Each plan will be different, so not all of these items will apply in every situation. For instance, a cyber attack would likely not require a workforce to relocate.
Training and Exercises
In this section, include:
- The type of training to undertake
- Exercises and drills
- How often the training should take place
These activities will ensure that the business continuity team can actually perform the duties required of them when the time comes.
Contact lists can include:
- The business continuity team
- Key customers, vendors, and business partners
- Government agencies
- Other relevant contacts
This section can save time for those using the document, which is why it is important to include contact information as well as their relationship to the organization and their role within the plan.
Required Forms and Documents
An appendix can include other relevant documents, such as:
- Employee surveys
- Status reports
- A time log
- An expense log
- Other useful information
As a final note, it is important to remember that this template is just that – a template. It can and should be tailored to fit the needs of one’s own business.