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5 Steps to Developing a Business Continuity Plan Checklist


June 27, 2023 Posted by in Business Continuity

Everyone knows planning is the best insurance. Your organization needs a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) to ensure operations continue to run smoothly in the event of a crisis. This plan formally documents how you will respond to natural or man-made disruptions to maintain essential operations and initiate the recovery process.

And with new threats emerging all the time, it’s important to keep your plan updated annually!

So let’s get started by working through a basic Business Continuity Plan checklist.

A Checklist for Updating Your Business Continuity Plan

First, assemble your Response Team.

Keeping your business going in the midst of crisis requires the right people for the job. You’ll want to identify leadership who have a broad understanding of the inner workings of your organization, as well as how individual divisions or operations integrate. You’ll also want to make sure you include individuals with knowledge of technical operations. For example, as most disaster events disrupt critical communications, you should include an IT representative who can navigate that specialized field.

Once you’ve gathered your team, select a team lead to spearhead execution, and then work through the rest of the check list together.

Second, identify business areas and essential functions.

What do you do? What makes your company unique? What generates revenue? What serves your client base?

This may seem obvious and unnecessary, but to determine all the ways an emergency, accident, disaster, or other crisis can disrupt your business, you need to identify all the various arms of your services.

Try to get as specific as possible, and even break down elements within your workflow. For example, if you’re a marketing firm, you may provide a single client with data analysis, brand strategy, copy, and creative elements. Each of these services can be disrupted separately or potentially as a group. Once you’ve highlighted the primary services of your organization, identify what systems they depend on to operate.

Third, perform a Business Continuity Risk Assessment.

This step is vital if you aim to get in front of a crisis before it starts.  A Business Continuity Risk Assessment identifies where your organization is particularly vulnerable to disruptions from a natural or man-made disaster. The most common events to consider include:

    • Fire
    • Flooding
    • Severe weather
    • Utility Outage
    • Active Shooter
    • Cyber-attack

Events like these pose a threat to multiple facets of your business, which is why the next step in your risk assessment is so important.

Fourth, perform a Business Impact Analysis.

This step simply weighs the effects of those events you identified during your Business Continuity Risk Assessment.

For example, even minimal flood or fire damage can destroy company records, as well as infrastructure. This means you could lose important data and even workspace. Your Business Continuity Plan must prepare for these potentialities. Other effects of crises include the disruption of supply chains, and loss of communication abilities, management systems, and manufacturing operations.

You’ll also want to consider the effects such events have on your team. It’s easy to lose sight of the human element when developing a BCP, but caring for your people and setting them up for success is vital to maintaining system operations during a crisis. Take time to consider how you can respond appropriately to the stress and trauma crises inevitably induce.

Of course, most of these scenarios also include financial loss. This is a great time to explore your insurance policies to determine what losses will and won’t be covered. You maintain those policies for a reason, so it’s fine to account for them, but don’t depend on them. A successful Business Continuity Plan answers the question: “How will you respond to crisis to maintain operations safely and successfully?”

Fifth, create your plan.

At this point, your Response Team should have all the information necessary to begin formulating your Business Continuity Plan.

A number of companies such as Legal Templates and Smartsheet offer free templates you can use. Or you can design your own template to best suit the needs of your organization.

FAQs when developing your Business Continuity Plan

Below, you’ll find a few answers to some of the most common questions people have about BCPs. If you haven’t already explored the checklist above, be sure you do so for more detailed information.

What does a Business Continuity Plan typically include?

A functional BCP includes:

    • A breakdown of an organization’s critical functions
    • A summary of what operations support those functions
    • Contact information for all relevant personnel (includes emergency first-responders and insurance reps)
    • An assessment of what crises pose a threat to business operations
    • A step-by-step response to individual crises
    • Contingency plans should your primary plan fail
    • Initial steps toward complete recovery

This last point is especially important. In fact, the best Business Continuity Plans see beyond the immediate crisis to include steps towards complete recovery. Sometimes these steps are organized separately as a Business Resumption Plan. However you prefer to set it up, it’s important to lay out actionable steps towards regaining momentum and pursuing maximum growth.

How do you test a Business Continuity Plan?

After investing heavily to develop your plan, don’t let it go to waste by skipping practicing it! Depending on the size of your organization, you should practice your Business Continuity Plan at least twice a year.

Create a rubric for measuring a successful test run. Questions may include:

    • Did personnel follow instructions correctly?
    • Did IT solutions function as intended?
    • Did the response time mitigate business disruptions?

As you assess the effectiveness of your plan and your team’s execution, identify areas for improvement or scenarios you had not accounted for.

Note: Emergency responders will certainly play a role in many crisis situations. It’s important to know their protocol so you can fit it into your Continuity Plan. However, make sure to develop contingency plans you can execute on your own should first-responders be delayed.

Why is an app helpful for maintaining Business Continuity?

The best Business Continuity Plans utilize tools to help maintain communication during a crisis. These multi-channel systems with mobile capabilities provide a network of communication that’s impervious to events that disrupt other operations.

With RedFlag Emergency Mass Notification, you’ll be equipped to:

    • Quickly communicate with vendors on supply chain interruptions, plant closings, network failures, and more
    • Effectively connect with individuals to resolve issues that arise
    • Seamlessly integrate your conference bridge to rapidly gather decision-makers
    • Confirm who’s reading information and gain insights on the information provided

Because when it comes to keeping your business going and your people safe, communication is key.


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