What correctly lists the overall steps of a BCP?
A business continuity plan (BCP) is a plan designed to maintain continuous business operations during a disruption or a disaster.
An effective continuity plan can protect key business functions and significantly mitigate losses.
However, to achieve these benefits, it is important to properly design and execute the plan.
In this article, we’ll look at the steps involved with developing and implementing a business continuity plan.
What Correctly Lists the Overall Steps of a BCP?
Let’s look at 7 key steps to follow when developing a new business continuity program.
1. Assess risks
Every business faces potential threats from a number of directions, though not all of these potential threats carry the same level of risk.
Before actually designing a business continuity plan, it is important to weigh these threats carefully, prioritizing those that pose the greater threat.
Risk assessments are typically performed by risk management professionals, and include a wide variety of potential threats, including:
- Natural disasters
- Workplace accidents
- The risks posed by digital disruption
- Economic and marketplace threats
- Risks associated with organizational change
- Risks that could disrupt normal business operations
In fact, risk management is used in a wide range of fields and business practices, not just business continuity.
Since the assessment and mitigation of risk is so important, it should become the very first step of any business continuity program.
2. Analyze the business impacts
A business impact analysis calculates how a particular event or disruption would affect the business.
When conducting an impact analysis, it is important to measure all of the factors that can impact the outcomes of the disruption, such as the timing, the duration, environmental conditions, which business units would be affected, and so forth.
Questionnaires and surveys should be used to inform the final analysis, which will then outline a number of business disruption scenarios along with their impacts, both on the business and on finances.
This analysis will then form the foundation of the business continuity plan itself – or, rather, the business continuity plans that should be developed next.
3. Prioritize threats and develop a set of response plans
A single continuity plan will often not be enough.
After all, a plan that addresses a cyber attack will require a different response than a plan that addresses natural disasters.
Also, in both cases, a single business continuity plan may not be adequate. To develop a truly effective response, it may be necessary to implement a series of response plans – as well as continuity plans specific for each business unit.
For example, responses to a fire or a severe weather event may include:
- An emergency response plan
- Crisis communications
- A business continuity plan
- IT disaster recovery
Each plan would have a specific purpose and scope, which is why it is best to think in terms of a holistic response effort, which will include business continuity plans.
4. Create a continuity strategy
The actual plan itself will be built upon a strategy, and that strategy should be aimed at maintaining continuous business operations.
In some cases, business continuity managers recommend including restoration and recovery activities. However, other professionals distinguish between business continuity and disaster recovery.
According to this view, business continuity is specifically aimed at protecting key business units and preserving the most important business functions, such as the delivery of goods and services. Disaster recovery, on the other hand, would implement strategies aimed at restoring lost assets and functionality.
Given that a response effort may involve the implementation of multiple plans, it may be best to separate these plans by function.
Having separate response plans will reduce redundancy and make them easier to update.
Smaller businesses, however, may prefer to consolidate their plans as much as possible, in order to save time and money. In this case, it may be simpler to include these activities under the same plan.
5. Assign a business continuity team
A business continuity team will be responsible for coordinating and executing the plan.
This team should be composed of specialists drawn from appropriate departments, organized into a typical management hierarchy.
Team leaders will be responsible for coordinating and managing the response effort, while team members will be responsible for implementation.
Each plan should provide detail regarding the team structure, as well as names and contact details for each team member.
As with every other part of the plan, it is important to keep this section updated, since obsolete information can be counterproductive.
6. Create training and exercises
Employee training is necessary to ensure that the continuity team can implement the plan as expected.
This training should be accompanied by exercises and drills – live simulations that put the plan to the test. These exercises will not only reinforce the training, they will also help reveal any potential issues or problems.
Testing the feasibility of the plan is essential and it should be done before a disruption actually occurs.
After all, if problems do reveal themselves, it is far better to fix them beforehand than to wait until the plan’s first implementation.
7. Add any additional information
Finally, once all of the above have been completed and included within the plan, all other necessary information should be added.
This supplemental material can include:
- An appendix of forms and necessary documents
- Communication templates and guidelines
- Time logs and expense logs
- A revision history for the document
- Guidelines for reviewing, testing, and updating the plan
The idea is to create a completely self-contained document that provides all necessary resources and information. The less employees have to look elsewhere, the more efficient they will be when executing the plan.