Key Steps to Creating an Effective Business Continuity Plan

creating effective business continuity plansHave you put together a comprehensive, actionable business continuity plan? This type of plan is insurance against critical interruptions -- a step-by-step guide on what to do should the most major components of your company's infrastructure fail. A business continuity plan should not be confused with a disaster preparedness plan; it is designed to mitigate and minimize loss, rather than to respond to it.

Here are the key steps to creating your business’ continuity plan.

Identification: Potential Risks and Hazards

As with any risk management technique, a business continuity plan begins with a thorough analysis of the risks and hazards most likely to befall your company. A tech business may be primarily concerned with the accessibility and performance of their IT infrastructure, whereas a retail or food service shop may need to prepare for physical emergencies and equipment-related downtime. In order to create a customized and comprehensive continuity plan, you need to know which issues you're preparing for.

Mobilization: Essential Resource Management

Once you have identified potential hazards, you should pinpoint your most critical resources. This should include "power" staff members who can take control of a dire situation, any resources that could be used to continue business operations in lieu of normal equipment and temporary physical locations, such as office space.

In the modern era, data is one of the most essential resources there is. You should know where your critical data -- such as customer contact information -- is stored and have a plan for contacting any effected parties. This is an area where a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan may slightly overlap.

Implementation: Training Staff Members on Your Plan

A plan is nothing without implementation. Not only should staff members be thoroughly trained on what to do should business continuity resources be needed, but the core of the plan should be tested. Staff members should know who to contact and how to move forward in the event that any of the circumstances outlined in the "identification" phase occur. Any procedures, such as mass mailing clients to let them know of changes, should be tested step-by-step to make sure that there aren't any issues later on.

The work isn't over once the plan has been developed. It will also need to be updated regularly if it's to remain relevant and useful. If you want to learn more about creating effective business continuity plans, you may want to begin by reviewing your vulnerability response best practices.

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