How to create a business continuity plan – with free template

The coronavirus pandemic has seen organisations across the world turning to their BCPs (business continuity plans) for solutions to the disruption that the pandemic is causing.

These plans should include guidance on how to cope if employees are unable to work from the office – whether that’s because of a pandemic or a range of other threats, such as a fire, flood or gas leak.

If you don’t already have a plan in place, it’s not too late to start. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.

What is a business continuity plan?

A BCP consists of the processes and procedures an organisation needs to ensure its critical business processes continue operating during a disaster.

All of this information is put into a document, which is regularly tested, developed and improved on to make sure the organisation has recovery strategies in place for a range of threats.

The BCP is often considered the heart of a BCMS (business continuity management system).

Who should have a business continuity plan?

All organisations, no matter their size, should create a BCP.

Every organisation is at risk of a disruptive incident. Nearly half of UK businesses suffered a cyber attack or security breach last year alone.

Failure to plan could have disastrous consequences for your organisation, potentially resulting in your organisation suffering irreparable damage.

Free BCP template

To help you with your BCP, we’ve created a free downloadable template.

It outlines the elements that should be included in a BCP, and makes it quick and easy to tailor the documentation to your organisation’s requirements.

Download our business continuity plan template >>

What should a business continuity plan include?

  1. Purpose and scope

Details of the plan should be provided and any exclusions must be explained.

  1. Responsibilities

You should select a business continuity team, comprised of a select group of employees who are responsible for carrying out the plans.

  1. Plan invocation

Details of how and when the BCP will be invoked.

  1. Developing the BCP

Information in the plan must be understood by and accessible to everyone in the organisation.

  1. Communications

How, and under which circumstances, the organisation will communicate with employees and their relatives, key interested parties and emergency contacts.

  1. Stakeholders

Provide information relating to essential stakeholders, including their contact information.

  1. Document owner, approver and change history record

The business continuity manager is the owner of the BCP and is responsible for ensuring that the procedure is reviewed and tested regularly.

  1. Change management

The document must be published in a place that is available to all members of staff, especially those directly involved in the BCP, and in all appropriate formats (digital, hard copy, etc.).

Benefits of a business continuity plan

Creating a BCP will make it easier for your organisation to cope in a crisis and minimise the business impact for you and your customers.

It also demonstrates to customers and investors that your business is prepared for anything, thereby gaining their confidence and giving you a competitive edge.

A BCP can also reduce or even avoid the risk of losing revenue if you are hit with a disruption. Returning to work as usual as quickly as possible minimises the disruption to your business operations and therefore helps you get back to generating revenue.

Organisations that aren’t prepared often appear incompetent. This can damage their reputation and brand image, putting many people off associating with them, which could lead to a loss of customers.

Protect your business with our BCM bundle

The disruption of the coronavirus pandemic means that organisations are facing new challenges almost every day. You can make sure you’re prepared for whatever comes your way with our Coronavirus Business Continuity Management Bundle.

It contains:

Develop a BCP that’s tailored to the risks your organisation faces with these document templates.

Robert Clark’s must-have guide considers how pandemics affect organisations – including operating with a depleted workforce – and explains how best to prepare for and mitigate their effects.

This book provides essential advice on how to establish a disaster recovery plan, paying close attention to the threat of phishing, malware and the major causes of IT failure.

Sarah Cook’s guide helps you reap the rewards of remote working by learning how to effectively manage your team.

Change can affect everyone differently, and as Naomi Klein discusses in this book, businesses must be prepared when implementing organisational changes.

Find out more

A version of this blog was originally published on 16 November 2018.

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