What is a Business Continuity Plan?

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A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is established by a company to ensure that company’s continued existence even in the event of a disaster. Such a plan should identify any threats and detail how those threats can be handled with minimal disruptions to the company’s operations. This type of emergency preparedness plan for a business is also sometimes known as a business continuity and resiliency plan.

Threats Faced by Business Organizations

A typical business faces a variety of different threats that can compromise the business’s ability to stay profitable. A plan for dealing with these threats should take into account not only catastrophic emergencies, but also more minor threats. Such a plan does not only need to consider emergencies that can affect the business itself, but also threats that can affect the general public and make it so they are no longer interested in or able to continue purchasing the company’s products or services.

There are generally considered to be five different parts to the creation of a BCP:

  • Analysis– The analysis part of developing a BCP should explore both the characteristics of the business itself and the particular threats to which that business may be exposed. During the analysis process, impact scenarios are devised that delve into the issue of what impact each threat might have on the organization. In addition to impact scenarios, the analysis stage of developing a BCP involves creating recovery requirements in response to impact scenarios to detail what needs to happen for the consequences of a particular emergency/impact for the event to be resolved.
  • Solution design– The solution design stage involves developing a solution to the problems brought up in the analysis stage. The solution that is determined for a given scenario should take into account the recovery requirements to each impact. These recovery requirements have already been determined in the analysis stage.
  • Implementation– When solutions are implemented, certain changes are usually necessary in a company’s policies or standard procedures. The implementation phase of developing a BCP involves incorporating solutions into a company’s business plan or general protocol.
  • Test/organizational acceptance– Once solutions are implemented, staff members need to be aware of them. Ensuring that staff members know how to handle threats properly usually requires certain training and testing. Testing and organizational acceptance at many companies is not a one time thing, but actually requires ongoing testing that might be conducted annually or biannually to ensure that staff members do not forget or to ensure that newer staff members are aware of what the solutions for the desired recovery requirements are.
  • Maintenance– Over time, the climate of a company or that company’s environment will naturally change. A BCP needs to accommodate changes by receiving periodic maintenance. Maintenance on the BCP is performed on an annual or biannual basis at some companies. Maintenance on the plan will generally involve confirming established information, verifying any solutions, and dealing with any issues that come up that might make it so that recovery procedures indicated by the Business Continuity Plan are no longer valid or effective.