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Blog Business

7 Business Continuity Plan Examples

By Danesh Ramuthi , Nov 28, 2023

Business Continuity Plan Examples

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a strategic framework that prepares businesses to maintain or swiftly resume their critical functions in the face of disruptions, whether they stem from natural disasters, technological failures, human error, or other unforeseen events.

In today’s fast-paced world, businesses face an array of potential disruptions ranging from cyberattacks and ransomware to severe weather events and global pandemics. By having a well-crafted BCP, businesses can mitigate these risks, ensuring the safety and continuity of their critical services and operations. To further safeguard their operations, integrating measures to protect against ransomware into their BCP is a natural and essential step.

Responsibility for business continuity planning typically lies with top management and dedicated planning teams within an organization. It is a cross-functional effort that involves input and coordination across various departments, ensuring that all aspects of the business are considered.

For businesses looking to develop or refine their business continuity strategies, there are numerous resources available. Tools like Venngage’s business plan maker and their business continuity plan templates offer practical assistance, streamlining the process of creating a robust and effective BCP. 

Click to jump ahead: 

7 business continuity plan examples

Business continuity types, how to write a business continuity plan, how often should a business continuity plan be reviewed, business continuity plan vs. disaster recovery plan, final thoughts.

In business, unpredictability is the only certainty. This is where business continuity plans (BCPs) come into play. These plans are not just documents; they are a testament to a company’s preparedness and commitment to sustained operations under adverse conditions. To illustrate the practicality and necessity of these plans, let’s delve into some compelling examples.

Business continuity plan example for small business

Imagine a small business specializing in digital marketing services, with a significant portion of its operations reliant on continuous internet connectivity and digital communication tools. This business, although small, caters to a global clientele, making its online presence and prompt service delivery crucial.

Business Consultant Continuity Plan Template

Scope and objective:

This Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is designed to ensure the continuity of digital marketing services and client communications in the event of an unforeseen and prolonged internet outage. Such an outage could be caused by a variety of factors, including cyberattacks, technical failures or service provider issues. The plan aims to minimize disruption to these critical services, ensuring that client projects are delivered on time and communication lines remain open and effective.

Operations at risk:

Operation: Digital Marketing Services Operation Description: A team dedicated to creating and managing digital marketing campaigns for clients across various time zones. Business Impact: High Impact Description: The team manages all client communications, campaign designs, and real-time online marketing strategies. An internet outage would halt all ongoing campaigns and client communications, leading to potential loss of business and client trust.

Recovery strategy:

The BCP should include immediate measures like switching to a backup internet service provider or using mobile data as a temporary solution. The IT team should be prepared to deploy these alternatives swiftly.

Immediate measures within the BCP should encompass alternatives like switching to a backup internet service provider or utilizing mobile data, supplemented by tools such as backup and recovery systems, cloud-based disaster recovery solutions, and residential proxies , while the IT team should be prepared to deploy these swiftly. 

Additionally, the company should have a protocol for informing clients about the situation via alternative communication channels like mobile phones.

Roles and responsibilities:

Representative: Alex Martinez Role: IT Manager Description of Responsibilities:

  • Oversee the implementation of the backup internet connectivity plan.
  • Coordinate with the digital marketing team to ensure minimal disruption in campaign management.
  • Communicate with the service provider for updates and resolution timelines.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan Template

Business continuity plan example for software company

In the landscape of software development, a well-structured Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is vital. This example illustrates a BCP for a software company, focusing on a different kind of disruption: a critical data breach.

Business Continuity Plan Template

Scope and objectives:

This BCP is designed to ensure the continuity of software development and client data security in the event of a significant data breach. Such a breach could be due to cyberattacks, internal security lapses, or third-party service vulnerabilities. The plan prioritizes the rapid response to secure data, assess the impact on software development projects and maintain client trust and communication.

Operation: Software Development and Data Security Operation Description: The software development team is responsible for creating and maintaining software products, which involves handling sensitive client data. In the realm of software development, where the creation and maintenance of products involve handling sensitive client data, prioritizing security is crucial. Strengthen your software development team’s capabilities by incorporating the best antivirus with VPN features, offering a robust defense to protect client information and maintain a secure operational environment. The integrity and security of this data are paramount.

Business Impact: Critical Impact Description: A data breach could compromise client data, leading to loss of trust, legal consequences and potential financial penalties. It could also disrupt ongoing development projects and delay product releases.

The IT security team should immediately isolate the breached systems to prevent further data loss. They should then work on identifying the breach’s source and extent. Simultaneously, the client relations team should inform affected clients about the breach and the steps being taken. The company should also engage a third-party cybersecurity or pentest firm for an independent investigation and recovery assistance.

Representative: Sarah Lopez Role: Head of IT Security Contact Details: [email protected] Description of Responsibilities:

  • Lead the initial response to the data breach, including system isolation and assessment.
  • Coordinate with external cybersecurity experts for breach analysis and mitigation.
  • Work with the legal team to understand and comply with data breach notification laws.
  • Communicate with the software development team leaders about the impact on ongoing projects.

Business Continuity Plan Templates

Related: 7 Best Business Plan Software for 2023

Business continuity plan example for manufacturing

In the manufacturing sector, disruptions can significantly impact production lines, supply chains, and customer commitments. This example of a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) for a manufacturing company addresses a specific scenario: a major supply chain disruption.

Business Continuity Plan Template

This BCP is formulated to ensure the continuity of manufacturing operations in the event of a significant supply chain disruption. Such disruptions could be caused by geopolitical events, natural disasters affecting key suppliers or transportation network failures. The plan focuses on maintaining production capabilities and fulfilling customer orders by managing and mitigating supply chain risks.

Operation: Production Line Operation Description: The production line is dependent on a steady supply of raw materials and components from various suppliers to manufacture products. Business Impact: High Impact Description: A disruption in the supply chain can lead to a halt in production, resulting in delayed order fulfillment, loss of revenue and potential damage to customer relationships.

The company should establish relationships with alternative suppliers to ensure a diversified supply chain. In the event of a disruption, the procurement team should be able to quickly switch to these alternative sources. Additionally, maintaining a strategic reserve of critical materials can buffer short-term disruptions. The logistics team should also develop flexible transportation plans to adapt to changing scenarios.

Representative: Michael Johnson Role: Head of Supply Chain Management Contact Details: [email protected] Description of Responsibilities:

  • Monitor global supply chain trends and identify potential risks.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with alternative suppliers.
  • Coordinate with logistics to ensure flexible transportation solutions.
  • Communicate with production managers about supply chain status and potential impacts on production schedules.

Related: 15+ Business Plan Templates for Strategic Planning

BCPs are essential for ensuring that a business can continue operating during crises. Here’s a summary of the different types of business continuity plans that are common:

  • Operational : Involves ensuring that critical systems and processes continue functioning without disruption. It’s vital to have a plan to minimize revenue loss in case of disruptions.
  • Technological : For businesses heavily reliant on technology, this type of continuity plan focuses on maintaining and securing internal systems, like having offline storage for important documents.
  • Economic continuity : This type ensures that the business remains profitable during disruptions. It involves future-proofing the organization against scenarios that could negatively impact the bottom line.
  • Workforce continuity : Focuses on maintaining adequate and appropriate staffing levels, especially during crises, ensuring that the workforce is capable of handling incoming work.
  • Safety : Beyond staffing, safety continuity involves creating a comfortable and secure work environment where employees feel supported, especially during crises.
  • Environmental : It addresses the ability of the team to operate effectively and safely in their physical work environment, considering threats to physical office spaces and planning accordingly.
  • Security : Means prioritizing the safety and security of employees and business assets, planning for potential security breaches and safeguarding important business information.
  • Reputation : Focuses on maintaining customer satisfaction and a good reputation, monitoring conversations about the brand and having action plans for reputation management.

Business Continuity Planning Templates

As I have explained so far, a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is invaluable. Writing an effective BCP involves a series of strategic steps, each crucial to ensuring that your business can withstand and recover from unexpected events. Here’s a guide on how to craft a robust business continuity plan:

Business Continuity And Disaster Recovery Plan Template

1. Choose your business continuity team

Assemble a dedicated team responsible for the development and implementation of the BCP. The team should include members from various departments with a deep understanding of the business operations.

2. Outline your plan objectives

Clearly articulate what the plan aims to achieve. Objectives may include minimizing financial loss, ensuring the safety of employees, maintaining critical business operations, and protecting the company’s reputation.

3. Meet with key players in your departments

Engage with department heads and key personnel to gain insights into the specific needs and processes of each department. This helps in identifying critical functions and resources.

4. Identify critical functions and types of threats

Determine which functions are vital to the business’s survival and identify potential threats that could impact these areas. 

5. Carry on risk assessments across different areas

Evaluate the likelihood and impact of identified threats on each critical function. This assessment helps in prioritizing the risks and planning accordingly.

6. Conduct a business impact analysis (BIA)

Perform a BIA to understand the potential consequences of disruption to critical business functions. It has to be done in determining the maximum acceptable downtime and the resources needed for business continuity.

7. Start drafting the plan

Compile the information gathered into a structured document. The plan should include emergency contact information, recovery strategies and detailed action steps for different scenarios.

8. Test the plan for any gaps

Conduct simulations or tabletop exercises to test the plan’s effectiveness. This testing can reveal unforeseen gaps or weaknesses in the plan.

9. Review & revise your plan

Use the insights gained from testing to refine and update the plan. Continual revision ensures the plan remains relevant and effective in the face of changing business conditions and emerging threats.

Read Also: How to Write a Business Plan Outline [Examples + Templates]

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) should ideally be reviewed and updated at least annually. 

The annual review ensures that the plan remains relevant and effective in the face of new challenges and changes within the business, such as shifts in business strategy, introduction of new technology or changes in operational processes. 

Additionally, it’s crucial to reassess the BCP following any significant business changes, such as mergers, acquisitions or entry into new markets, as well as after the occurrence of any major incident that tested the plan’s effectiveness. 

However, in rapidly changing industries or in businesses that face a high degree of uncertainty or frequent changes, more frequent reviews – such as bi-annually or quarterly – may be necessary. 

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) are two crucial components of organizational preparedness, yet they serve different functions. The BCP is aimed at preventing interruptions to business operations and maintaining regular activities. 

It focuses on aspects such as the location of operations during a crisis (like a temporary office or remote work), how staff will communicate and which functions are prioritized. In essence, a BCP details how a business can continue operating during and after a disruption​​​​.

On the other hand, a DRP is more specific to restoring data access and IT infrastructure after a disaster. It describes the steps that employees must follow during and after a disaster to ensure minimal function necessary for the organization to continue. 

Essentially, while a BCP is about maintaining operations, a DRP is about restoring critical functions, particularly IT-related, after a disruption has occurred​

It’s clear that having a robust and adaptable business continuity plan (BCP) is not just a strategic advantage but a fundamental necessity for businesses of all sizes and sectors. 

From small businesses to large corporations, the principles of effective business continuity planning remain consistent: identify potential threats, assess the impact on critical functions, and develop a comprehensive strategy to maintain operations during and after a disruption.

The process of writing a BCP, as detailed in this article, underscores the importance of a thorough and thoughtful approach. It’s about more than just drafting a document; it’s about creating a living framework that evolves with your business and the changing landscape of risks.

To assist in this crucial task, you can use Venngage’s business plan maker & their business continuity plan templates . These tools streamline the process of creating a BCP, ensuring that it is not only comprehensive but also clear, accessible and easy to implement. 

What Is A Business Continuity Plan? [+ Template & Examples]

Swetha Amaresan

Published: December 30, 2022

When a business crisis occurs, the last thing you want to do is panic.

executives discussing business continuity plan

The second-to-last thing you want to do is be unprepared. Crises typically arise without warning. While you shouldn't start every day expecting the worst, you should be relatively prepared for anything to happen.

A business crisis can cost your company a lot of money and ruin your reputation if you don't have a business continuity plan in place. Customers aren't very forgiving, especially when a crisis is influenced by accidents within the company or other preventable mistakes. If you want your company to be able to maintain its business continuity in the face of a crisis, then you'll need to come up with this type of plan to uphold its essential functions.

Free Download: Crisis Management Plan & Communication Templates

In this post, we'll explain what a business continuity plan is, give examples of scenarios that would require a business continuity plan, and provide a template that you can use to create a well-rounded program for your business.

Table of Contents:

What is a business continuity plan?

  • Business Continuity Types
  • Business Continuity vs Disaster Recovery

Business Continuity Plan Template

How to write a business continuity plan.

  • Business Continuity Examples

A business continuity plan outlines directions and procedures that your company will follow when faced with a crisis. These plans include business procedures, names of assets and partners, human resource functions, and other helpful information that can help maintain your brand's relationships with relevant stakeholders. The goal of a business continuity plan is to handle anything from minor disruptions to full-blown threats.

For example, one crisis that your business may have to respond to is a severe snowstorm. Your team may be wondering, "If a snowstorm disrupted our supply chain, how would we resume business?" Planning contingencies ahead of time for situations like these can help your business stay afloat when you're faced with an unavoidable crisis.

When you think about business continuity in terms of the essential functions your business requires to operate, you can begin to mitigate and plan for specific risks within those functions.

examples of business continuity plan

Crisis Communication and Management Kit

Manage, plan for, and communicate during your corporate crises with these crisis management plan templates.

  • Free Crisis Management Plan Template
  • 12 Crisis Communication Templates
  • Post-Crisis Performance Grading Template
  • Additional Crisis Best Management Practices

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Business Continuity Planning

Business continuity planning is the process of creating a plan to address a crisis. When writing out a business continuity plan, it's important to consider the variety of crises that could potentially affect the company and prepare a resolution for each.

Business Continuity Plan

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What is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)? Purpose, Template & Examples

  • Marie Laure Troadec Legal Counsel
  • August 29, 2023

Key Takeaways

1.  A business continuity plan is an essential risk management tool that helps organizations proactively prepare for unexpected disruptions and events, ensuring the continuity of critical operations.

2.  By identifying and assessing potential risks and threats to their operations, businesses can develop appropriate response strategies to prevent or minimize disruption during challenging times.

3.  Businesses should avoid certain pitfalls to successfully implement their business continuity plan. These include a lack of employee engagement, an over-reliance on technology, and a failure to test their plans.

4.  By proactively addressing these areas, businesses can increase the chances of successful implementation and execution of their business continuity plans.

Ensuring business continuity is a topic high on the agenda for most businesses and one that has become increasingly paramount in light of recent events: Few things have focused attention on the need to have a contingency plan more than the COVID-19 pandemic. The potential disruption caused by a pandemic, or indeed any other unforeseen event, to a business’s operations can have significant financial, legal, and reputational ramifications that can be mitigated or even prevented if appropriate measures are put in place.

This article delves into the essential elements of a business continuity plan (BCP) and provides valuable guidance on avoiding common pitfalls to help your business implement and execute a robust plan that safeguards your operations.

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan is a risk management strategy that a business implements to protect its operations in the face of an unexpected event or disruption such as a natural disaster, cyberattack, or technological failure. By anticipating and preparing for potential crises or unplanned eventualities, businesses can take preemptive measures to ensure they remain operational and maintain a sense of normalcy despite interruptions.

The business continuity planning process enables businesses to assess potential threats to their operations and identify vulnerabilities that could impact their ability to function effectively. Through the implementation of a business continuity plan, business leaders can swiftly respond to emergencies, minimizing any potential downtime and mitigating the negative effects on their operations. This proactive approach can help businesses navigate challenging situations with relative ease and resilience, ensuring minimal impact on their productivity and profits.

Main Elements of a Business Continuity Plan

A robust and effective business continuity plan will comprise the following key elements that facilitate business resilience and preparedness during uncertain times.

  • Business impact analysis
  • During this phase, a business will identify and assess potential risks and threats to their organization’s operations. A business impact analysis (BIA) assesses the potential consequences of disruptions in critical business functions. This allows businesses to prioritize resources, allocate budgets, and develop strategies to minimize downtime and facilitate recovery.  
  • Recovery strategies
  • This step addresses the risks identified in the BIA by developing appropriate responses to prevent or minimize disruption. Recovery strategies outline the immediate actions required following an incident, those responsible for implementing them and coordinating the allocation of resources.
  • Plan development
  • The plan development phase involves developing the framework of the business continuity plan by establishing the relevant recovery teams, establishing communication channels, creating relocation plans, and gaining management buy-in.
  • Testing and maintenance
  • This phase involves training and testing the relevant teams and systems by conducting exercises to measure the effectiveness of the business continuity plan and identifying areas for improvement. Processes are also established for regularly reviewing and updating the business continuity plan to account for changes in technology, previous incidents, and evolving threats and risks.

Common Business Continuity Plan Pitfalls

To ensure the efficacy of their response during unexpected events or disruptions, organizations should be mindful of common mistakes encountered in the business continuity planning process. 

An awareness of the following issues can help businesses avoid certain pitfalls which could hinder their efforts in this area:

1. Lack of employee engagement

The success of any business continuity plan hinges on an organization’s ability to execute it successfully as even the most comprehensive and detailed plan will fall flat if it is ineffective in real-world situations.

The successful execution of a business continuity plan goes beyond senior management. To ensure business continuity in times of trouble it is essential that those on the ground have also been briefed on contingency measures and are ready to step into action accordingly.  Without adequate employee training and awareness, organizations run the risk of compromising critical business functions leading to further disruptions and losses.

By prioritizing employee engagement and involvement in the business continuity plan, organizations can strengthen and streamline their response efforts ensuring a robust and resilient response to potential disruptions, while fostering a culture of confidence and preparedness within their organization.

2. Overreliance on technology

While technological solutions play a crucial role and should be a feature of any robust business continuity plan, an overreliance on digital services and technical infrastructure can pose potential challenges for organizations. 

Sole or heavy reliance on this area increases the risk of a single point of failure. This is especially pertinent at a time when cyberattacks and data breaches are prevalent creating vulnerabilities in a business’ technological systems, and thereby undermining the effectiveness of its business continuity plan. Unforeseen events such as natural disasters which can lead to infrastructure damage and power outages can also severely compromise an organization’s ability to function effectively during a crisis.

To counter these problems, organizations should incorporate a diverse range of technological and non-technological solutions into their business continuity plan, taking into account manual processes and alternatives that are not solely dependent on digital services. Data backup options should also be put in place to help businesses restore swift operations and minimize extended downtime.

3. Failure to test

Without proper testing, the effectiveness of a business continuity plan remains theoretical rather than proven in practice. Regular testing enables businesses to identify and address any gaps or limitations in their plan, avoiding the risk of critical business functions being left vulnerable in an actual crisis situation.

Through drills, real-life simulations, and tabletop exercises, organizations can learn from real-world incidents, gaining practical insight into the feasibility of their business continuity plans and identifying any areas that require improvement. Regular testing plays a crucial role in helping businesses to optimize their response strategies and ensure resilience and readiness in the face of difficult or unforeseen circumstances.

By proactively addressing and avoiding these common pitfalls, businesses can develop comprehensive business continuity plans that help to bolster their resilience, minimize disruptions, and ensure the continuity of their operations during challenging times.

BCP Template

The precise content of your BCP will depend on the nature of your business. However, below is a useful template for a typical business: 

1. Introduction

  • Purpose: Outline the purpose of the BCP.
  • Scope: Specify which parts of the organization this BCP covers.
  • Assumptions: State any assumptions made during the BCP’s creation.

2. Business Continuity Policy

Outline the company’s policy regarding business continuity. This can include the company’s commitment to employee safety, client service, data protection, etc.

3. Roles and Responsibilities

List the key personnel responsible for executing the BCP:

  • Business Continuity Manager/Coordinator
  • Crisis Communication Team
  • Emergency Response Team
  • IT Recovery Team
  • Employee Assistance Team

4. Risk Assessment

Identify potential risks and threats:

  • Natural disasters
  • Technological failures
  • Security breaches

5. Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

Identify the potential impacts of each threat:

  • Financial impacts
  • Reputational impacts
  • Operational impacts
  • Legal/Regulatory impacts

6. Business Continuity Strategies

Outline strategies for:

  • Data backup and recovery
  • Alternate work locations
  • Communication protocols
  • Supply chain management

7. Incident Response Plan

Details the immediate actions to be taken following an incident:

  • Alert and notification procedures
  • Evacuation procedures
  • Safety checks

8. Recovery Plans

For each critical department/function, provide a detailed plan on how to resume operations:

  • IT systems recovery
  • Resumption of critical business functions
  • Communication with stakeholders

9. Training and Testing

Outline how the plan will be tested and how often, as well as any training programs for employees:

  • Tabletop exercises
  • Full-scale drills
  • Employee training sessions

10. Maintenance and Review

Describe how the plan will be kept current:

  • Regularly scheduled reviews
  • Updates following any changes in the business environment or operations
  • Feedback loop from testing

11. Communication Protocols

Specify how communication will be maintained:

  • Emergency contact lists
  • Communication methods (phone, email, etc.)
  • External communication (with media, stakeholders, etc.)

12. Appendices

  • Resource lists
  • Vendor contacts
  • Floor plans
  • Backup data locations

Business Continuity Plan Examples

If you are looking for some other examples of well-designed BCPs and BCP templates, check out the following: 

  • Durham County Council’s BCP
  • Chisholm & Winch (UK Construction Company)
  • Ready (US Government Disaster Response Resource).

Developing and implementing business continuity plans

Expertise in critical business functions such as compliance, HR management, and global payroll solutions ensures your business can confidently navigate through unexpected challenges or crises. 

Contact us today to learn how we can support your business continuity efforts and provide the stability and peace of mind you need in an ever-changing world. 

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How to create an effective business continuity plan

A business continuity plan outlines procedures and instructions an organization must follow in the face of disaster, whether fire, flood, or cyberattack. here’s how to create a plan that gives your business the best chance of surviving such an event..

Professional Meeting: Senior Businesswoman and Colleague in Discussion

The tumultuous events of the past several years have impacted practically every business. And with the number of extreme weather events, cyberattacks, and geopolitical conflicts continuing to rise, business leaders are bracing for the possibility of increasingly more frequent impactful incidents their organizations will need to respond to.

According to PwC’s 2023 Global Crisis and Resilience Survey , 96% of 1,812 business leaders said their organizations had experienced disruption in the past two years and 76% said their most serious disruption had a medium to high impact on operations.

It’s little wonder then that 89% of executives list resilience as one of their most important strategic priorities.

Yet at the same time, only 70% of respondents said they were confident in their organization’s ability to respond to disruptions, with PwC noting that its research shows that too many organizations “are lacking the foundational elements of resilience they need to be successful.”

A solid business continuity plan is one of those foundational elements.

“Every business should have the mindset that they will face a disaster, and every business needs a plan to address the different potential scenarios,” says Goh Ser Yoong, head of compliance at Advance.AI and a member of the Emerging Trends Working Group at the professional governance association ISACA.

A business continuity plan gives the organization the best shot at successfully navigating a disaster by providing ready-made directions on who should do what tasks in what order to keep the business viable.

Without such as a plan, the organization will take longer than necessary to recover from an event or incident — or may never recover at all.

What is a business continuity plan?

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a strategic playbook created to help an organization maintain or quickly resume business functions in the face of disruption, whether that disruption is caused by a natural disaster, civic unrest, cyberattack, or any other threat to business operations.

A business continuity plan outlines the procedures and instructions that the organization must follow during such an event to minimize downtime, covering business processes, assets, human resources, business partners, and more.

A business continuity plan is not the same as a disaster recovery plan , which focuses on restoring IT infrastructure and operations after a crisis. Still, a disaster recovery plan is part of the overall strategy to ensure business continuity, and the business continuity plan should inform the action items detailed in an organization’s disaster recovery plan. The two are tightly coupled, which is why they often are considered together and abbreviated as BCDR.

Why business continuity planning matters

Whether you operate a small business or a large corporation, it’s vital to retain and increase your customer base. There’s no better test of your capability to do so than right after an adverse event.

Because restoring IT is critical for most companies, numerous disaster recovery solutions are available. You can rely on IT to implement those solutions. But what about the rest of your business functions? Your company’s future depends on your people and processes. Being able to handle any incident effectively can have a positive effect on your company’s reputation and market value, and it can increase customer confidence.

Moreover, there are increasing consumer and regulatory expectations for both enterprise security and continuity today. Consequently, organizations must prioritize continuity planning to prevent not only business losses, but financial, legal, reputational, and regulatory consequences.

For example, the risk of having an organization’s “license to operate” withdrawn by a regulator or having conditions applied (retrospectively or prospectively) can adversely affect market value and consumer confidence.

Building (and updating) a business continuity plan

Whether building the organization’s first business continuity plan or updating an existing one, the process involves multiple essential steps.

Assess business processes for criticality and vulnerability: Business continuity planning “starts with understanding what’s most important to the business,” says Joe Nocera, principle in the cyber risk and regulatory practice at PwC, a professional services firm.

So the first step in building your business continuity plan is assessing your business processes to determine which are the most critical; which are the most vulnerable and to what type of events; and what are the potential losses if those processes go down for a day, a few days, or a week.

“This step essentially determines what you are trying to protect and what you are trying to keep up for systems,” says Todd Renner, senior managing director in the cybersecurity practice at FTI Consulting.

This assessment is more demanding than ever before because of the complexity of today’s hybrid workplace, the modern IT environment, and the reliance on business partners and third-party providers to perform or support critical processes.

Given that complexity, Goh says a thorough assessment requires an inventory of not only key processes but also the supporting components — including the IT systems, networks, people, and outside vendors — as well as the risks to those components.

This is essentially a business impact analysis.

Determine your organization’s RTO and RPO: The next step in building a business continuity plan is determining the organization’s recovery time objective (RTO), which is the target amount of time between point of failure and the resumption of operations, and the recovery point objective (RPO), which is the maximum amount of data loss an organization can withstand.

Each organization has its own RTO and RPO based on the nature of its business, industry, regulatory requirements, and other operational factors. Moreover, different parts of a business can have different RTOs and RPOs, which executives need to establish, Nocera says.

“When you meet with individual aspects of the business, everyone says everything [they do] is important; no one wants to say their part of the business is less critical, but in reality you have to have those challenging conversations and determinations about what is actually critical to the business and to business continuity,” he adds.

Detail the steps, roles, and responsibilities for continuity: Once that is done, business leaders should use the RTO and the RPO, along with the business impact analysis, to determine the specific tasks that need to happen, by whom, and in what order to ensure business continuity.

“It’s taking the key components of your analysis and designing a plan that outlines roles and responsibilities, about who does what. It gets into the nitty-gritty on how you’re going to keep the company up and running,” Renner explains.

One common business continuity planning tool is a checklist that includes supplies and equipment, the location of data backups and backup sites, where the plan is available and who should have it, and contact information for emergency responders, key personnel, and backup site providers.

Although the list of possible scenarios that could impact business operations can seem extensive, Goh says business leaders don’t have to compile an exhaustive list of potential incidents. Rather, they should compile a list that includes likely incidents as well as representative ones so that they can create responses that have a higher likelihood of ensuring continuity even when faced with an unimagined disaster.

“So even if it’s an unexpected event, they can pull those building blocks from the plan and apply them to the unique crisis they’re facing,” Nocera says.

The importance of testing the business continuity plan

Devising a business continuity plan is not enough to ensure preparedness; testing and practicing are other critical components.

Renner says testing and practicing offer a few important benefits.

First, they show whether or how well a plan will work.

Testing and practicing help prepare all stakeholders for an actual incident, helping them build the muscle memory needed to respond as quickly and as confidently as possible during a crisis.

They also help identify gaps in the devised plan. As Renner says: “Every tabletop exercise that I’ve ever done has been an eye-opener for everyone involved.”

Additionally, they help identify where there may be misalignment of objectives. For example, executives may have deprioritized the importance of restoring certain IT systems only to realize during a drill that those are essential for supporting critical processes.

Types and timing of tests

Many organizations test a business continuity plan two to four times a year. Experts say the frequency of tests, as well as reviews and updates, depends on the organization itself — its industry, its speed of innovation and transformation, the amount of turnover of key personnel, the number of business processes, and so on.

Common tests include tabletop exercises , structured walk-throughs, and simulations. Test teams are usually composed of the recovery coordinator and members from each functional unit.

A tabletop exercise usually occurs in a conference room with the team poring over the plan, looking for gaps and ensuring that all business units are represented therein.

In a structured walk-through, each team member walks through his or her components of the plan in detail to identify weaknesses. Often, the team works through the test with a specific disaster in mind. Some organizations incorporate drills and disaster role-playing into the structured walk-through. Any weaknesses should be corrected and an updated plan distributed to all pertinent staff.

Some experts also advise a full emergency evacuation drill at least once a year.

Meanwhile, disaster simulation testing — which can be quite involved — should still be performed annually. For this test, create an environment that simulates an actual disaster, with all the equipment, supplies and personnel (including business partners and vendors) who would be needed. The purpose of a simulation is to determine whether the organization and its staff can carry out critical business functions during an actual event.

During each phase of business continuity plan testing, include some new employees on the test team. “Fresh eyes” might detect gaps or lapses of information that experienced team members could overlook.

Reviewing and updating the business continuity plan should likewise happen on an ongoing basis.

“It should be a living document. It shouldn’t be shelved. It shouldn’t be just a check-the-box exercise,” Renner says.

Otherwise, plans go stale and are of no use when needed.

Bring key personnel together at least annually to review the plan and discuss any areas that must be modified.

Prior to the review, solicit feedback from staff to incorporate into the plan. Ask all departments or business units to review the plan, including branch locations or other remote units.

Furthermore, a strong business continuity function calls for reviewing the organization’s response in the event of an actual event. This allows executives and their teams to identify what the organization did well and where it needs to improve.

How to ensure business continuity plan support, awareness

One way to ensure your plan is not successful is to adopt a casual attitude toward its importance. Every business continuity plan must be supported from the top down. That means senior management must be represented when creating and updating the plan; no one can delegate that responsibility to subordinates. In addition, the plan is likely to remain fresh and viable if senior management makes it a priority by dedicating time for adequate review and testing.

Management is also key to promoting user awareness. If employees don’t know about the plan, how will they be able to react appropriately when every minute counts?

Although plan distribution and training can be conducted by business unit managers or HR staff, have someone from the top kick off training and punctuate its significance. It’ll have a greater impact on all employees, giving the plan more credibility and urgency.

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How to craft an effective business continuity plan

examples of business continuity plan

Let me take you back in time to the United Kingdom in the 1970s. Punk music was gaining popularity, and the Sex Pistols entered the punk rock scene with the force of a shooting star, capturing fans’ attention.

How To Craft An Effective Business Continuity Plan

But as quickly as they arrived, they quickly left the scene. When they broke up in 1978 after a period of internal conflicts, legal troubles, and their frontman’s imprisonment, fans were left both shocked and surprised.

Just like the Sex Pistols, plenty of companies experience rapid growth and success, only to face unexpected challenges and internal conflicts that result in their downfall.

In this article, we’ll draw inspiration from the Sex Pistols’ turbulent journey to explore the concept of business continuity planning (BCP). We’ll look at what a BCP is, why you need one and delve into the strategies and contingency measures that can help you maintain your rhythm and continuity, even when faced with the inevitable storms that can disrupt your operations.

What is a business continuity plan?

A business continuity plan describes how you’ll continue your business when disaster hits. It is a structured strategy outlining how your organization will maintain essential functions when disaster strikes, to ensure minimal downtime and guarantee that operations continue.

Why do you need a BCP in place?

The BCP is crucial and revolves around ensuring your resilience and ability to continue operating in the face of unexpected disruptions, such as natural disasters, cyberattacks, or other emergencies.

Let’s look at it a bit closer, and understand some of the key reasons to have a BCP better:

Minimize downtime

Protect revenue and reputation, compliance and legal requirements, resource allocation, maintain customer service, employee safety.

A BCP helps you minimize downtime. It does this by providing a structured approach to quickly recover and resume your critical business functions.

Example: You’re a retail company with an extensive online presence. If your website experiences a cyberattack that takes it offline, a well-prepared BCP outlines the steps to take to mitigate the attack, get your website back up in no time, and allow you to continue serving your customers.

No one likes disruptions as they result in revenue loss and can damage your reputation. A BCP helps you protect against financial losses and keep customer trust.

Example: You’re the owner of a restaurant chain with multiple locations and one of your branches has a food safety crisis. A BCP can guide you in managing the crisis, ensuring food safety compliance, and communicating effectively with customers to maintain trust in the brand and other locations.

Some industries, like the financial, and pharma industries, have regulatory requirements that mandate businesses to have BCPs in place. Failure to do so has legal and financial consequences.

Example: You’re the owner of a FinTech company. You are required by regulators to have robust BCPs to ensure customer data security and financial system stability.

When a crisis hits you need the right resources to get you back up and running. A BCP helps allocate resources effectively during a crisis, ensuring that personnel, equipment, and materials are used efficiently to address the most critical needs.

examples of business continuity plan

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examples of business continuity plan

Example: You’re a manufacturing company hit by a sudden supply chain disruption because the Suez Canal is blocked again. You use your BCP to allocate available resources to meet customer demands and minimize production delays.

When all hell breaks loose you want to make sure customer experience takes a minimum blow. A BCP outlines measures to maintain customer service and communication, so customers receive timely updates and support.

Example: You run an airline and there is a labor strike. Your BCP tells you how to manage customer inquiries, rebook affected passengers, and maintain a level of service.

Let’s not forget about the well-being of your employees. During a crisis, this is a top priority. A BCP includes procedures for evacuations, remote work arrangements, and employee support.

Example: There is a fire at your workplace. The BCP outlines evacuation routes, assembly points, and contact information for employees to report their safety status.

Business continuity planning: Steps for success

That’s a lot of reasons, right? Now that we addressed the necessity and urgency of having BCP, let’s look at 5 steps to creating a successful one:

  • Analyze your company
  • Assess the risk
  • Create the procedures
  • Get the word out
  • Iterate and improve

1. Analyze your company

In this phase you conduct an analysis to identify critical activities, determine which activities must continue, which can be temporarily paused, and which can operate at a reduced capacity.

You then assess the financial impact of disruptions. This involves asking yourself the question, “How long can I operate without generating revenue and incurring recovery costs?”

As this step covers your whole company, it’s important to get key stakeholders involved from the beginning.

2. Assess the risk

Now you have a good overview of your critical processes and the impact of disruption. At this point, pivot your attention to the risks they face, how well you can handle when things don’t work as usual, and how long you can manage if things go wrong.

The goal here is to understand what could go wrong and find ways to avoid, reduce, or transfer them. This assessment will help you strengthen your preparedness and resilience.

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Think about risks specific to your industry and location

It’s important to consider both internal (e.g. an IT system failure or employee shortage) and external threats (e.g. a natural disaster or supply chain disruption) to your critical business activities.

3. Create the procedures

Once you analyze and assess, you need to create procedures.

Develop detailed, step-by-step procedures to minimize risks to your organization’s people, operations, and assets. This can include changes to your operating model, such as using alternative suppliers or implementing remote work options.

4. Get the word out

A plan is just a plan and no one will know how to act if you don’t communicate.

This step is all about communication. Integrate the BCP into your operations, policies, and company culture, and train, test, and communicate with your employees.

And don’t forget that communication is not limited to your company only. Communicate with external stakeholders, customers, suppliers, and so forth.

5. Iterate and improve

Before implementing your BCP ensure its effectiveness.

Don’t worry there are plenty more options to test your BCP. Consider involving external stakeholders or vendors as it makes exercises more realistic. Frequently train those who are accountable for executing the BCP.

After experiencing a real incident or conducting a training exercise, update your plan to improve its ability to protect your business. Keep in mind that both your organization’s development and the circumstances you operate in change, so a regular review isn’t a luxury but a necessity.

How to structure your continuity plan

Now you have a high-level understanding, let’s look at how to structure your business continuity plan.

You can find a copy of the template I use here .

Make sure to include the following sections in your BCP:

Version history

Executive summary, functions and process prioritization, plan activation, governance and responsibilities, recovery plans, crisis communication plan, emergency location and contents, review and testing.

This section shows the revision history. It includes the version numbers of the changes made, by whom, when, and who approved the changes. The revision history allows anyone reading the BCP to understand how it has evolved over time.

The executive summary provides a brief summary of the key objectives, goals, scope, and applicability of the BCP.

This chapter outlines the critical functions and processes in scope of continuation in case of a disastrous event.

This section refers to the risk and business impact assessment outcome. Its aim is to set out what triggers the activation of the plan.

Governance and responsibilities talks about who has to act when the BCP is activated. It includes the members, a description of their responsibilities, contact details of the BCP team, and the chain of command during a crisis.

This section builds upon the business continuity strategies, specifically the one chosen when a disaster occurs. It describes the detailed recovery plans for each critical function, the procedures for restarting operations, resource allocation, and recovery time objectives (RTOs).

Here you cover the internal and external communication strategies. You also address employee awareness and training activities.

Now there is a good chance the disaster will require your crucial activities to temporarily continue at a different location. This section covers all details about the location and what needs to be available at the location.

The BCP is to be tested to reduce the risk of missing things or even worse failing. Here jot down the testing procedures and document results and lessons learned.

This section includes all appendices. Think about the following

  • Supporting documents, such as contact lists, maps, and technical specifications
  • References to external standards, guidelines, or regulations
  • Training programs for BCP team members
  • Review of insurance policies
  • Financial reserves and funding for recovery efforts
  • Procedures for keeping the BCP documentation up to date

Business continuity plan example

Earlier this year, the Koninklijke Nederlands Voetbal Bond (KNVB), which is the Royal Dutch Football Association, was hit by ransomware. The cyberattackers threatened to share personally identifiable information captured and the KNVB paid over one million euros to avoid this from happening.

What could have been done to mitigate the ransomware attack risk?

The Risk of the attack to succeed could have been mitigated with:

  • Regular data backups
  • Segmentation of networks
  • Intrusion detection systems

How to ensure business continuity in case of ransomware?

In response to the ransomware incident, and to allow for continued business as usual as soon as possible, steps could include:

  • Isolating affected systems
  • Activating backups
  • Notifying law enforcement
  • Engaging with a cybersecurity incident response team

Key takeaways

A business continuity plan (BCP) is like a safety net for your business when things go haywire. It helps you keep going, avoiding downtime, revenue loss, and reputation hits. On top of that, it’s a legal must in certain industries.

To make a solid BCP, just follow five steps: figure out what’s crucial for your business, spot the risks, plan how to bounce back, make sure everyone knows the plan, and keep fine-tuning it.

Structurally, your BCP should have sections like history, a quick guide, what’s most important, when to activate it, who’s in charge, the nitty-gritty recovery plans, how communication is done, where to go in a crisis, how to test the BCP works, and some extra info.

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16 Business Continuity Plan Templates For Every Business

Download our free Business Continuity Plan Template Download this template

As a business leader, you know that unforeseen events can disrupt your business operations and impact your bottom line. That's why having a solid business continuity plan in place is essential.

But where do you start? That's where we come in. This article provides you with 16 free, customizable business continuity plan templates that are prefilled with examples, making it easy to create a plan that meets your unique needs. Whether you're a small business or a large enterprise, our templates are designed to help you prepare for any contingency.

In addition to the templates, we've included a step-by-step guide on how to create an effective business continuity plan. From identifying risks and critical functions to testing and updating your plan, our guide covers everything you need to know.

Free Template Download our free Business Continuity Plan Template Download this template

General Business Continuity Plan Template

business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

New to business continuity planning? No worries! Our general BCP Template is like a friendly guide—perfect for both newcomers and veterans. Use it to get the ball rolling on your continuity planning initiative and create robust strategies that will keep your business operational in times of crisis.

How to use this template? 👀

1. Sign up to get instant access to your chosen template. (Yes, it’s 100% free.) 

2. Customize the template to fit your needs: 

  • Define your focus areas or strategic priorities 
  • Set strategic objectives  
  • Assign KPIs and owners 
  • Create action plans and projects to achieve your desired outcomes 

3. Integrate all business data in one place for a comprehensive view of performance. 

4. Use reports and dashboards to monitor progress and identify risks before they escalate. 

5. Invite your team members to collaborate and ensure everyone is working toward the same goals. 

👉 Click here to get your FREE Business Continuity Plan Template

💡All templates below follow the same structure. The only difference lies in the pre-filled sample data, making them customized for specific industries and use cases.

Industry-Specific Business Continuity Plan Templates

Hospitality bcp template.

hospitality business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Craft a resilience plan for your hospitality business, including hotels, restaurants, or travel services. This BCP template for Hospitality will help you establish measures to handle potential emergency situations and ensure customer satisfaction.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Hospitality Continuity Plan Template

Manufacturing BCP Template

manufacturing business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Ensure uninterrupted production and operations with this Manufacturing Continuity Plan Template . Use this template to keep your business partner relationships, supply chains, and production lines strong, even when surprises pop up.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Manufacturing Continuity Plan Template

Transportation BCP Template

transportation business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Need a solid game plan for spotting risks early and building strong strategies to manage disruptions in your transportation business? Create your own with the BCP Template for Transportation to maintain timely deliveries and operations.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Transportation Continuity Plan Template

Healthcare BCP Template

healthcare business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

In an industry where lives depend on service reliability, the Healthcare Business Continuity Plan Template helps you build and execute contingency plans to ensure uninterrupted care and handle emergencies effectively.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Healthcare Continuity Plan Template

Retail BCP Template

retail business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Strengthen your retail business's resilience to unforeseen events like global pandemics, supply chain disruptions, or surges in demand. With this Retail BCP Template , establish plans for inventory management, customer service, and store operations.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Retail Business Continuity Plan Template

Pharmaceuticals BCP Template

pharmaceutical business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Keep vital manufacturing and supply chain operations running like clockwork with our Pharmaceuticals BCP Template . This template has everything you need to hit the ground running on your continuity planning. Use it to ensure your business doesn’t miss a beat because of trade disputes, regulations, and recalls.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Pharmaceutical Business Continuity Plan Template

Financial Services BCP Template

financial services business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

The BCP Template for Financial Services is designed to assist financial professionals concerned about their continuity and resilience. Use it to identify and plan strategies to keep your business sailing steady and navigate business continuity management like a seasoned professional.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Financial Business Continuity Plan Template

Telecommunications BCP Template

telecommunications business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Our Business Continuity Plan Template for Telecommunications is ideal for internet service providers, telcos, and MSPs that want to keep their telecommunication services humming along, no matter what. Use it to outline strategies to reduce the risk of disruptions such as new technology, regulatory changes, and cyber-attacks.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Telecommunications Business Continuity Plan Template

IT BCP Template

it business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Create a comprehensive continuity plan for your information technology business with the IT Business Continuity Plan Template . This template will help you formulate and execute strategies for data center security, network downtime planning, and maintaining service levels. 

👉 Click here to get your FREE IT Business Continuity Plan Template

Nonprofits BCP Template

nonprofit business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Ensure that your nonprofit's mission endures through unexpected events and map out your organization's preparedness with the Business Continuity Plan Template for Nonprofits . This template guides nonprofits in developing strategies for funding, communication, and service delivery during crises such as natural disasters. 

👉 Click here to get your FREE Nonprofit Continuity Plan Template

Small Business BCP Template

small business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Build resilience and safeguard your small business to weather uncertainties with the Small Business Continuity Plan Template . With this prefilled template, you’ll be able to kickstart the strategic planning process to build effective recovery procedures and disaster mitigation strategies.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Small Business Continuity Plan Template

Special Focus Templates 

Supply chain continuity template.

supply chain business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Strengthen the resilience of your supply chain with this Supply Chain Business Continuity Plan Template . Use it to create and track strategies to mitigate risks such as supplier failures, transportation disruptions, and inventory shortages, ensuring a steady flow of goods and services.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Supply Chain Continuity Plan Template

Operational Continuity Plan Template

operational continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Keep your business operations running smoothly, irrespective of unforeseen challenges, with the Operational Continuity Plan Template . With it, you can quickly create an actionable Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) that guarantees your business’s preparedness when disaster strikes.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Operational Continuity Plan Template

Risk Assessment Plan Template

risk assessment plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Risk management is at the heart of any successful continuity planning strategy. Why? Because knowing the risks your organization faces is the first step to preparing for, and effectively navigating unforeseen circumstances. 

If you're ready to start building your BCP, begin with the Risk Assessment Plan Template . This framework is designed to help you pinpoint potential risks, measure their impact, and craft proactive strategies to dodge business disruptions.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Risk Assessment Plan Template

Crisis Communications Plan Template

crisis communications plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Effectively manage internal and external communications during a crisis with this Crisis Communications Plan Template . Ensure the right messages reach your stakeholders, employees, and customers on time. This will contribute to a well-coordinated response and support your human resources team in managing crisis-related communications effectively.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Communications Plan Template

How To Write A Business Continuity Plan 

A clear business continuity plan helps teams act quickly and effectively, minimizing disruptions to operations. If you want to build a resilient business continuity plan, here's a true-and-tried approach:

1. Identify critical business processes and types of threats

First, figure out which parts of your business are the most important. Why is this so crucial? When things go wrong, you can't keep every part of your business going—it's just not practical.

But, many senior management teams stumble at this stage because they:

  • Take a siloed approach to continuity planning.
  • Misidentify the core processes integral to business success.
  • Exclude critical stakeholders when trying to understand what drives the business.
  • Rely on outdated risk assessments and information for planning.
As PwC puts it, " Businesses struggle to do this well because it’s complex and can involve multiple departments and players. It’s not the usual approach in which business continuity is looked at solely within the siloed functions. ”

To build a resilient BCP, thoroughly examine your business, engage all stakeholders, and really understand your key business functions and processes.

2. Perform a risk assessment

Risk assessments help companies understand potential threats, their severity, and their likelihood. This crucial step aids in prioritizing planning, encourages strategic thinking, and empowers problem-solving abilities.

💡 Check out our article Risk Matrix: How To Use It In Strategic Planning for guidance . 

3. Conduct a Business Impact Analysis and prioritize strategies

A Business Impact Analysis evaluates the possible consequences of risks on your crucial business operations . It’s vital for gathering information, developing appropriate recovery strategies, and setting strategic priorities.

Consider impact such as:

  • Lost or delayed sales and income
  • Increased expenses
  • Regulatory fines
  • Loss of business opportunities
  • Operational setbacks
  • Reputation damage
  • Loss of shareholder confidence
  • Supply chain disruption

4. Build your business continuity plan

Finally, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and turn your research, risk assessment, and business impact analysis into a fully-fledged business continuity plan. 

Your continuity plan should act as a roadmap. It should outline how your organization will keep the gears turning in the face of disruptions.

Here are the key elements: 

  • 🎯 Objectives
  • ⏳ Timelines
  • 🏆 Priorities
  • 👥 Team members
  • 📝 Projects and action plans

If you’re using Cascade strategy templates , you’ll have these vital elements ready and waiting to help you plan faster and better.

💡Don't spend too much time on analysis and planning. There is no such thing as a perfect plan. Instead, focus on the execution and adapt your plan as you go. 

Tips For Writing And Executing Your Business Continuity Plan

Want to create a business that can ride the wave of any disruption? You'll need a fresh take on strategic risk management and continuity planning. The real magic happens when you blend centralized observability and fast execution . 

Creating your plan shouldn't be a one-and-done deal. You need to keep an eye on things and tweak your strategies as needed. This is where Cascade strategy execution platform shines.

Cascade’s customizable dashboards give you real-time insights into your business operations. See the big picture or drill down to team-specific details, all in one place. This helps in identifying issues early and implementing your continuity plan effectively.

example of a dashboard in cascade strategy execution platform

Time is of the essence when a crisis hits. Decision-makers need information fast. Cascade's Reports lets you create concise strategy reports with up-to-date data and charts with a click. No more wasting time on manual reporting.

Continuity planning is an ongoing, iterative process. Risks change, and your strategies should evolve accordingly. With Cascade, you can continuously monitor performance and make necessary adjustments to your business continuity plan in one place.

“Cascade provides our organization with a level of transparency we've never experienced before. Traditionally siloed teams have insight into what other groups are working on, facilitating a new level of engagement and cross-team collaboration.” - Katie B, G2

📚 Recommended reads for more tips and best practices: 

6 Steps To Successful Strategy Execution

Strategic Control Simplified: A 6-Step Process And Tools  

Get Faster Insights And Make Better Decisions With Cascade 🚀

As the world’s #1 strategy execution platform, Cascade cuts through the chaos of running business operations and paves a clear path forward.

Build continuity plans that are data-driven and aligned with your long-term vision.

Cascade helps you diagnose where you stand today and understand the factors affecting your performance, leading to informed and confident decisions.

What’s more, Cascade centralizes visibility over your execution process. This means you can swiftly identify dependencies and potential risks, and act proactively to mitigate them.

Ready to take control? Sign up for a free forever account today or book a 1:1 product tour with one of Cascade’s in-house strategy execution experts.

Business Continuity FAQs

What are the 4 ps of business continuity .

The 4 Ps of business continuity is a way of measuring the impact of disruptions on an organization. They stand for People (the impact on the lives of workers), Processes (the effect on operations), Profits (the impact on revenue generation), and Partnerships (the impact on the enabling business environment).

What is the difference between a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan? 

The main difference between a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan is its purpose. A business continuity plan aims to sustain the critical functions of an organization during disruptions, while a disaster recovery plan outlines the strategy for restoring normal business operations after major disruptions.

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A step-by-step guide to writing an effective business continuity plan.

Posted Aug 30, 2022

What is a business continuity plan?

A business continuity plan is a written document that describes the emergency procedures that should happen if a business-critical process fails.

Several sources can threaten businesses. Sometimes, disruption can take the form of Force Majeure circumstances, like extreme weather or political unrest. Other circumstances are less obvious, but just as disruptive: supply chain issues, web server downtime or power outages can leave permanent damage to a business’s finances after a certain amount of time.

Businesses must prevent unwanted downtime to ensure critical functions and services aren’t affected. The best way to ensure a consistent and effective response to potential issues is to implement a robust, documented business continuity plan.

Learn more with our in-depth guide to business continuity.

What is the purpose of a business continuity plan?

A strategically structured and rehearsed business continuity plan provides a number of benefits to both employees and the company itself.

With improvements to communication, technology and resilience, here are a number of examples of the positives that you can expect from a business continuity plan:

Helps your business to survive a disruptive event — Ensuring you have a robust plan in place will enable your business to recover in the shortest possible timeframe from an incident.

Protect your organisation’s reputation and brand — Whether it’s in the eyes of the public, suppliers and/or clients you work with, showing that you can respond well to the unexpected will instil confidence in your business and help to mitigate any negative feelings due to disruptions.

Strengthen your relationship with third parties and subsidiaries — With an effective business continuity plan, you’ll demonstrate that your company is being run well from the top down. By showing that you’re a reliable partner that can be depended on, you’ll attract new business and solidify your relationship with current clients and service providers.

Ensure staff safety — The well-being of your employees is a natural factor in a business continuity plan. By ensuring your team is looked after and knows what the procedure is during disruptions, you can establish clear roles and responsibilities to keep everyone under your care safe in an emergency.

Meet regulatory standards — Globally, there are corporate governance regulations that require directors and key stakeholders to exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence to mitigate risks facing an organisation. With an effective business continuity plan in place, you can ensure you’re meeting the requirements of a growing body of legislation.

What does a good business continuity plan look like?

The three key elements of a business continuity plan are:

1. Resilience

Businesses can increase their resilience by designing critical functions and infrastructures to protect against specific scenarios. Examples include; data redundancy, staffing rotations and maintaining a surplus of capacity. If implemented efficiently, resilience in business continuity can even keep essential services running on-site or remotely without interruption to daily operations.

2. Recovery

There’s no way an organisation can prepare for every eventuality. But with rapid recovery, you can future-proof your business by ensuring you have strategies in place to restore business functions in an emergency. With recovery time objectives for different systems, you can analyse and prioritise which needs recovering first.

3. Contingency

A contingency plan ensures that an organisation has procedures in place to distribute and delegate responsibilities for a range of external scenarios. These can include replacing hardware, sourcing an emergency workspace and contracting third-party vendors for assistance.

Who is responsible for a business continuity plan?

To ensure your organisation’s readiness, it’s important to designate who will be responsible for implementing and managing your business continuity plan. For small businesses, a single individual could be tasked with writing a business continuity plan. Or for larger organisations, a whole team could be involved with developing a business continuity plan.

In such cases, business unit leaders — such as payroll, corporate travel, human resources and security — will be given the responsibility of creating their respective unit’s business continuity plan with a program manager overseeing the process.

It is essential to make sure each person understanding their responsibilities and that there are clear lines of communication between employees and external stakeholders, in order to keep everything as smooth as possible during an disruptive scenario.

What is the first step in writing a business continuity plan?

The first step you should take when preparing to write a business continuity plan is to conduct a full Business Impact Assessment (BIA).

A BIA predicts the consequences of a significant disruption to your business processes. It clarifies the potential losses that could be incurred in each circumstance.

A BIA should include the following:

Potential losses — What would your lost sales and income look like for each hour of downtime, or each day?

Delayed sales — Could disruption create cash flow issues for you by delaying your sales or income? If so, to what extent? What lines of credit would you have to rely on?

Increased expenses — How much would you have to spend on resources to mitigate the issue? Think about things like overtime, outsourcing, and costs associated with expediting business-critical activities.

Regulatory fines — How much could you be fined by regulators for breaches to things like data privacy or health and safety?

Contractual penalties — Are there any charges you could incur for failing to meet SLAs with your business partners?

Customer satisfaction — How much damage to your public reputation could a disruption have? You can quantify by thinking of the number of additional negative reviews you could receive for each day of delays.

Delay of new business plans — Would you need to push back any planned launches or new business agreements while you deal with disruptions?

Writing your plan: Step-by-step instructions

Identify your business-critical processes — Critical business processes are those necessary for the survival of the company in the case of loss of revenue, customer service interruption or reputation damage. E.g. Manufacturing — what you would need to keep your production line going. Finance — how to recover important documents that contain sensitive information. IT — is home working feasible for your business?

Specify the target recovery time for these processes — How long would it take for the loss of a business-critical process to do irreparable damage to your business? Your target recovery time for each process you identified should be within this window. Determine how long you could tolerate a disruption: this is known as a recovery time objective (RTO). Your business continuity plan should enable you to mitigate disruptions within this time window.

Define the specific resources needed for each process — Once you’ve identified how long you’ll need to restore a process, you’ll need to outline everything you’ll need to do so, and plan within that time frame. You could split this into internal resources (key people in your organisation, passwords, office space, specialist equipment) and external resources (e.g. supplies, transportation). Along with identifying how readily available they can be, and for how long you’ll need them.

Describe the steps needed to restore each process — If your business is disrupted by an IT failure, fire, flood or an extreme weather event, what is your plan to address this? Devise a backup plan for each key operation you have, detailing who to contact, what resources you’ll need, and how much you might need to spend in order to restore each process.

Decide on a schedule to update the information — Once you’ve compiled the above 4 points, you’ll have a strong business continuity plan that you can action. But it won’t be bulletproof forever. As your business evolves, so will the technology it uses and the relationships it has. Therefore, you need to plan ways to keep the information up-to-date. It might be that you decide on a regular date that the whole plan needs to be revisited, whether that’s yearly, quarterly or even monthly. Alternatively, you might decide it’s better to update small elements of the plan as and when they change: e.g. if a password to a critical folder is changed, there’s someone in your organisation who is responsible for updating your business continuity plan accordingly.

What are the four P’s of business continuity planning?

The four P’s of business continuity are:

People — This covers your staff, customers and clients.

Processes — This includes the technology and strategies your business uses to keep everything running.

Premises — Covers the buildings and spaces from which your business operates.

Providers — This includes parties that your business relies on for getting resources, like your suppliers and partners.

You can use the four P’s when reviewing the initial draft of your business continuity plan to ensure you’ve considered the impact on each of them at every stage.

For example, how might your plan to recover important documents out of working hours impact your staff? How hard would it be to access the premises? When should you notify your clients and business partners?

What is the most important part of a business continuity plan?

Every element of your business continuity plan is important, but perhaps the most critical part to get right is how you plan to respond to potential issues. It’s advantageous to have precise calculations about potential losses and the impact of your business relationships, but without a clear and effective way of reacting to disruptions, your business will incur serious — and sometimes irreparable — financial damage.

Business continuity plan template

We’ve prepared an example business continuity plan to get you started.

1. Objective of the plan

Open with a short summary of the ‘why’ behind the how. Explain clearly and succinctly that the aim of your business continuity plan is to protect your business in the event of a disruption to business-critical processes.

2. Business-critical processes checklist

Your plan will need to contain a list of its most important processes. Below are a few examples:

3. Recovery plan

For each critical function you listed in step (2), you’ll need to specify a comprehensive, tailored recovery plan that should be followed in order to get the process back up and running within your RTO.

4. Contact list

Create lists of staff, suppliers and insurers that should be contacted in case of an emergency.

List of key staff: example

Supplier list: example

List of insurers: example

Ensure your business continuity

If you want to protect your business against all eventualities, putting in place reliable business continuity plans is a crucial step.

CMAC specialises in providing emergency assistance to businesses experiencing transport disruptions to keep things running smoothly and minimise potential losses. Learn more about CMAC’s full suite of industry-leading recovery solutions , from ground transport to emergency accommodation.

Other useful guides

What is Business Continuity and why is it important for your business? | CMAC Group

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How To Create a Business Continuity Plan Template

May 14, 2023 - 10 min read

Wrike Team

Modern businesses face countless risks and challenges, and it is critical to have a business continuity plan (BCP) in place. A BCP helps an organization prepare for disasters, respond to disruptions, and recover in an efficient manner. In this article, we will walk you through a step-by-step guide on crafting the perfect business continuity plan template. Grab your notebook, and let’s dive in!

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Understanding the importance of a business continuity plan template

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a preventive and proactive plan that helps an organization manage its operations during emergencies and disasters. It involves identifying and assessing potential threats and hazards that may disrupt a business’s operations. The purpose of a BCP is to minimize the impact of unexpected incidents. The goal is to ensure the company can maintain its essential operations with little interruption.

Defining business continuity

Business continuity refers to a business’s ability to continue its critical functions during a disruption, whether natural or human-made. This type of plan is a holistic approach that encompasses people, processes, and technology.

Identifying potential risks and disruptions

The initial stage in BCP development is assessing risks to identify potential threats that could affect the business’s operations. Organizations can categorize risks into internal or external factors, such as cyber threats, natural disasters, power outages, or supply chain disruptions. Once the organization has identified the risks, it needs to evaluate them to determine their potential impact.

It’s crucial to assess both the likelihood of these risks happening and the potential consequences of not having a BCP. If a company heavily depends on its computers, a cyberattack or computer failure could be expensive and damage its reputation. A BCP can help mitigate these risks and ensure that the company can continue to operate with minimal disruption.

The benefits of having a business continuity plan

A BCP helps a company by reducing downtime, cutting financial losses, keeping employees safe, and protecting the brand’s reputation. It enables the organization to respond quickly and effectively to a disruption, resulting in minimal business interruption. Having a BCP in place can also increase customer trust and confidence in the companies ability to handle crises.

Another advantage of having a BCP is that it helps spot areas for improvement in how the organization works. These changes allow for making processes more efficient, saving money, and becoming more resilient for the business as a whole.

Lastly, BCPs hold organizations accountable, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. Failure to comply with certain regulations can result in fines and reputation damage, along with endangering employees and customers.

Key components of a business continuity plan template

A BCP template has the following key parts: analyzing business impact, recovery plans, incident responses, crisis communication, and training. A BCP template is an essential tool for ensuring business continuity. In addition to the key parts mentioned, it should also include clear roles and responsibilities for employees during a crisis.

These roles can help streamline decision making and ensure a swift response to any disruptions. Furthermore, the template should incorporate regular testing and revision of the plan to adapt to evolving threats and changing business needs. Good business continuity planning is an ongoing process that protects your organization and makes it stronger when facing challenges. 

Let’s take a closer look at each of these components:

Business impact analysis

A business impact analysis (BIA) consists of two main parts. The first part involves identifying important functions within the organization. The second part involves determining how a disruption could impact the business’s finances, reputation, and compliance. Keep doing this analysis regularly to make sure it stays current and helpful for the business’s present operations.

Recovery strategies

Recovery strategies are what a company does to fix important things when something bad happens, using info from the BIA. These strategies include recovering data and systems, relocating staff, or seeking assistance from another company until things are back to normal.

Remember to document the recovery strategies in detail and have them regularly reviewed and updated. Regularly test them to ensure they function well and you can use them quickly if there’s an issue.

Communication and crisis management

A communication and crisis management plan tells you how to talk to employees, suppliers, regulators, and customers when something goes wrong. The plan should ensure everyone understands the company’s response to the problem and its impact on the business.

Training and awareness

Make sure employees understand the BCP through education and regular training so they know what to do during disruptions. This preparation helps the organization respond effectively and minimize disruptions to its operations.

Overall, your program should include training on the BIA, recovery strategies, incident response plan, and communication and crisis management plan. 

Two people sitting at a desk speaking with a laptop open and notebooks

Step-by-step guide to creating a business continuity plan template

Business continuity planning is a critical process for any organization. Here is your step-by-step approach to creating a BCP template.

Step 1: Assemble a business continuity team

Assemble a business continuity team consisting of employees from various departments and functions, such as IT, operations, finance, and human resources. These staff members, who know the organization’s important tasks, will create and put the BCP template into action.

Also, it is important that the team members have the necessary resources and support to carry out their responsibilities effectively. This may involve giving the team training, making sure they have the right tools and technology.

Step 2: Conduct a risk assessment

Next, conduct a comprehensive risk assessment to identify internal and external risks that may impact the organization’s operations. The assessment should consider a range of scenarios, including natural disasters, cyberattacks, and other potential disruptions. It should also take into account the potential impact of these risks on the organization’s critical functions. 

Step 3: Identify critical business functions

After assessing risks, determine which essential tasks must continue during a disruption. Critical functions are the top tasks the organization needs to prioritize, such as assisting customers, handling orders, and managing finances. Remember to involve key stakeholders in the identification of critical functions. 

Step 4: Develop recovery strategies

Next, develop recovery strategies that outline the procedures for restoring each function in the event of a critical disruption.

Make sure you test and validate your strategies for effectiveness so you can implement them quickly and efficiently. This testing may involve conducting simulations or other exercises to identify any gaps or weaknesses in your recovery strategies.

Step 5: Create an incident response plan

Craft a plan that provides details on how the organization will respond to an incident. Ensure the procedures detail how to reach the crisis management team, evaluate the situation, and talk to stakeholders, employees, and customers.

Make sure the plan explains how to use recovery strategies from Step 4 quickly and effectively when there’s a problem.

Step 6: Establish a communication plan

Develop a communication plan that outlines how to approach all stakeholders, employees, and customers regarding the disruption and the organization’s response. This plan needs a crisis management team, and their job is to organize how the organization deals with the problem. Establish this team in advance, and have their contact information readily available.

Step 7: Train and educate employees

Train and educate employees on the BCP and their responsibilities so that they know what to do during a disruption. Do practice runs often to make the plan work better. Everyone, including those not in the business continuity team, should take part.

Step 8: Regularly review and update the plan

Every year, go and update the BCP template to ensure accuracy. This will make sure it still works and fits any changes in the company’s operations, risks, and threats.

It is also important to review the BCP following any significant changes to the organization’s operations or infrastructure. This may include changes to key personnel, IT systems, or the business’s physical location.

Business continuity plan example

In this business continuity plan example, we’ll explore the key components of a robust strategy to ensure an organization can weather unexpected disruptions. L et’s consider a manufacturing company.

Its BCP might include strategies for relocating production to alternate facilities in case of a natural disaster or supply chain interruption. It may also detail communication protocols to keep employees, customers, and stakeholders informed during such events.

Additionally, the plan could address data backup and recovery procedures to ensure critical information remains accessible. With a good business continuity plan, organizations can avoid long disruptions. They can keep a good reputation and hold on to trust from customers and partners, even in tough times.

How Wrike can help with a business continuity plan template

Wrike helps organizations create and maintain a good business continuity plan by being a flexible project management and collaboration platform. By leveraging Wrike, businesses can streamline their continuity planning efforts in several ways.

Wrike helps team members communicate and work together easily, with real-time updates and task assignments — especially important during crises. Secondly, the platform supports comprehensive document management, making it easy to store and access critical documents, such as emergency response protocols and contact lists.

Moreover, Wrike’s customizable workflow automation guarantees that it meets crucial tasks and deadlines without fail. This enhances the speed and efficiency of responding to disruptions, ensuring that the business can recover quickly and minimize downtime. 

In summary, Wrike provides a robust framework for designing, implementing, and maintaining a business continuity plan, helping organizations safeguard their operations and respond effectively to unforeseen challenges.

A BCP is essential for any organization that wants to ensure business continuity during a disruption. You can create a BCP template by following the steps in this article. This template will assist your organization in managing risks and recovering from disruptions. Remember to review and update your plan regularly and educate your employees to ensure its effectiveness.

Ensure your organization’s resilience by crafting an effective business continuity plan template with Wrike. Start your free trial today and safeguard your business from unforeseen risks and disruptions.

Note: This article was created with the assistance of an AI engine. It has been reviewed and revised by our team of experts to ensure accuracy and quality.

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Today, no company can be immune to the current economic situation. So it is the time for many businesses to analyze their business model and risk profile. Economics experts join their voices stating that the best thing you can do to withstand the crisis is to improve your customer service and be attentive to customer needs.  Terry Leahy, the head of TESCO, a British-based international grocery and general merchandising retail chain, noted in one of his recent interviews that staying close to customers is the key to surviving the current, difficult economic conditions. “We learned some lessons, and the message is simple – stay with your customers. Listen to your customers.” For project managers, it’s important that you treat your customers as stakeholders.  John Mackey (CEO of Whole Foods) and Kip Tindell (CEO of The Container Store), who drove their companies with a constant growth over good and bad times, explain their take on stakeholders in this very interesting interview. It’s a must-read for executives in the current economic conditions. Lots of companies now will have a closer look at the opportunities offered by Web 2.0 tools. Online communities, blogs and social networks are great sources of information about your customers, their opinions and their needs. Corporate blogging has become a popular trend. Books are written about it. Blogs have become effective in allowing customers to speak to each other. There are hundreds of superb examples on the Web. Take the Starbucks Gossip blog, for example. It’s a powerful communication channel for the largest coffeehouse company in the world. Each post on Starbucks Gossip gets up to 200 comments. This is an endless source of hands-on information and valuable ideas from Starbucks lovers. Blogging is just one example. It’s important to be open to your customers, so in this respect, all means of communication are good -- blogs, forums, e-mail, phone, you name it. This will help you to lend an attentive ear to your customers’ voices and perceive their unmet needs. Companies that are not afraid to be open to their customers reap the rewards of customers’ trust. Yet another advantage is that they can implement ideas coming from their customers’ community to make the product or service better. The closest example to me is our project management software. We prioritize the development of Wrike’s new features, based on our users’ feedback and requests. Every voice counts, as we believe that a happy customer makes our business thrive. We can say that our customers help us improve the product, giving us tips on what direction of development to choose next. So listening to your customers is important for being able to survive in a harsh economic situation. But what’s even more important is being able to change your business based on your customer feedback and to do it quickly. Paying attention to your customers’ needs is the first step. The next one is being agile and adaptive to the changing requirements. Here’s where Project Management 2.0 practices and supporting tools can be of great help. Project Management 2.0, which is based on the vigor of collective intelligence and power of emergent structures, can help you incorporate customer feedback into your tactical plans much faster. First, a project blog, wiki or a project collaboration solution makes your project work more transparent for your clients. Having this insight into how you deliver the product or service your customers can introduce their ideas and thoughts on how it can be improved. Let’s say a customer leaves a comment on your blog or drops you an e-mail with a really brilliant idea that no one from your team had before. Still, it’s just an idea. Only you and people from you team know how to apply it to the project. This idea then can be input into your collaboration system, so that each member of your project team can develop this idea into something bigger and offer a way to incorporate this idea into your project. The project manager can then find the best way to fit the idea into the project development, so that it benefits all the stakeholders. The project then will be a result of the collective work of many minds. Emergent structures employed in the Project Management 2.0 applications will be the engine that makes this work possible. The whole process of incorporating customers’ feedback into the project development becomes much faster and easier. The company becomes truly agile and responsive. This means it will be more resistant to economic downturns. I would appreciate it if you could share your experience of fitting your clients’ feedback and requests into your project work. Have you used Web 2.0 and Project Management 2.0 tools for that? Please leave a comment below.

What Brexit May Mean for Your Business (Work Management Roundup)

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examples of business continuity plan

Business Continuity Planning

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Organize a business continuity team and compile a  business continuity plan  to manage a business disruption. Learn more about how to put together and test a business continuity plan with the videos below.

Business Continuity Plan Supporting Resources

  • Business Continuity Plan Situation Manual
  • Business Continuity Plan Test Exercise Planner Instructions
  • Business Continuity Plan Test Facilitator and Evaluator Handbook

Business Continuity Training Videos

The Business Continuity Planning Suite is no longer supported or available for download.

feature_mini img

Business Continuity Training Introduction

An overview of the concepts detailed within this training. Also, included is a humorous, short video that introduces viewers to the concept of business continuity planning and highlights the benefits of having a plan. Two men in an elevator experience a spectrum of disasters from a loss of power, to rain, fire, and a human threat. One man is prepared for each disaster and the other is not.

View on YouTube

Business Continuity Training Part 1: What is Business Continuity Planning?

An explanation of what business continuity planning means and what it entails to create a business continuity plan. This segment also incorporates an interview with a company that has successfully implemented a business continuity plan and includes a discussion about what business continuity planning means to them.

Business Continuity Training Part 2: Why is Business Continuity Planning Important?

An examination of the value a business continuity plan can bring to an organization. This segment also incorporates an interview with a company that has successfully implemented a business continuity plan and includes a discussion about how business continuity planning has been valuable to them.

Business Continuity Training Part 3: What's the Business Continuity Planning Process?

An overview of the business continuity planning process. This segment also incorporates an interview with a company about its process of successfully implementing a business continuity plan.

Business Continuity Training Part 3: Planning Process Step 1

The first of six steps addressed in this Business Continuity Training, which detail the process of building a business continuity plan. This step addresses how organizations should “prepare” to create a business continuity plan.

Business Continuity Training Part 3: Planning Process Step 2

The second of six steps addressed in this Business Continuity Training, which detail the process of building a business continuity plan. This step addresses how organizations should “define” their business continuity plan objectives.

Business Continuity Training Part 3: Planning Process Step 3

The third of six steps addressed in this Business Continuity Training, which detail the process of building a business continuity plan. This step addresses how organizations should “identify” and prioritize potential risks and impacts.

Business Continuity Training Part 3: Planning Process Step 4

The fourth of six steps addressed in this Business Continuity Training, which detail the process of building a business continuity plan. This step addresses how organizations should “develop” business continuity strategies.

Business Continuity Training Part 3: Planning Process Step 5

The fifth of six steps addressed in this Business Continuity Training, which detail the process of building a business continuity plan. This step addresses how organizations should define their “teams” and tasks.

Business Continuity Training Part 3: Planning Process Step 6

The sixth of six steps addressed in this Business Continuity Training, which detail the process of building a business continuity plan. This step addresses how organizations should “test” their business continuity plans. View on YouTube

Last Updated: 12/21/2023

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  • Business Continuity Plan Basics
  • Understanding BCPs
  • Benefits of BCPs
  • How to Create a BCP
  • BCP & Impact Analysis
  • BCP vs. Disaster Recovery Plan

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Business Continuity Plan FAQs

The Bottom Line

What is a business continuity plan (bcp), and how does it work.

examples of business continuity plan

Investopedia / Ryan Oakley

What Is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)? 

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a system of prevention and recovery from potential threats to a company. The plan ensures that personnel and assets are protected and are able to function quickly in the event of a disaster.

Key Takeaways

  • Business continuity plans (BCPs) are prevention and recovery systems for potential threats, such as natural disasters or cyber-attacks.
  • BCP is designed to protect personnel and assets and make sure they can function quickly when disaster strikes.
  • BCPs should be tested to ensure there are no weaknesses, which can be identified and corrected.

Understanding Business Continuity Plans (BCPs)

BCP involves defining any and all risks that can affect the company's operations, making it an important part of the organization's risk management strategy. Risks may include natural disasters—fire, flood, or weather-related events—and cyber-attacks . Once the risks are identified, the plan should also include:

  • Determining how those risks will affect operations
  • Implementing safeguards and procedures to mitigate the risks
  • Testing procedures to ensure they work
  • Reviewing the process to make sure that it is up to date

BCPs are an important part of any business. Threats and disruptions mean a loss of revenue and higher costs, which leads to a drop in profitability. And businesses can't rely on insurance alone because it doesn't cover all the costs and the customers who move to the competition. It is generally conceived in advance and involves input from key stakeholders and personnel.

Business impact analysis, recovery, organization, and training are all steps corporations need to follow when creating a Business Continuity Plan.

Benefits of a Business Continuity Plan

Businesses are prone to a host of disasters that vary in degree from minor to catastrophic. Business continuity planning is typically meant to help a company continue operating in the event of major disasters such as fires. BCPs are different from a disaster recovery plan, which focuses on the recovery of a company's information technology system after a crisis.

Consider a finance company based in a major city. It may put a BCP in place by taking steps including backing up its computer and client files offsite. If something were to happen to the company's corporate office, its satellite offices would still have access to important information.

An important point to note is that BCP may not be as effective if a large portion of the population is affected, as in the case of a disease outbreak. Nonetheless, BCPs can improve risk management—preventing disruptions from spreading. They can also help mitigate downtime of networks or technology, saving the company money.

How To Create a Business Continuity Plan

There are several steps many companies must follow to develop a solid BCP. They include:

  • Business Impact Analysis : Here, the business will identify functions and related resources that are time-sensitive. (More on this below.)
  • Recovery : In this portion, the business must identify and implement steps to recover critical business functions.
  • Organization : A continuity team must be created. This team will devise a plan to manage the disruption.
  • Training : The continuity team must be trained and tested. Members of the team should also complete exercises that go over the plan and strategies.

Companies may also find it useful to come up with a checklist that includes key details such as emergency contact information, a list of resources the continuity team may need, where backup data and other required information are housed or stored, and other important personnel.

Along with testing the continuity team, the company should also test the BCP itself. It should be tested several times to ensure it can be applied to many different risk scenarios . This will help identify any weaknesses in the plan which can then be corrected.

In order for a business continuity plan to be successful, all employees—even those who aren't on the continuity team—must be aware of the plan.

Business Continuity Impact Analysis

An important part of developing a BCP is a business continuity impact analysis. It identifies the effects of disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses the information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.

FEMA provides an operational and financial impact worksheet to help run a business continuity analysis. The worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers who are well acquainted with the business. These worksheets will summarize the following:

  • The impacts—both financial and operational—that stem from the loss of individual business functions and process
  • Identifying when the loss of a function or process would result in the identified business impacts

Completing the analysis can help companies identify and prioritize the processes that have the most impact on the business's financial and operational functions. The point at which they must be recovered is generally known as the “recovery time objective.”

Business Continuity Plan vs. Disaster Recovery Plan

BCPs and disaster recovery plans are similar in nature, the latter focuses on technology and information technology (IT) infrastructure. BCPs are more encompassing—focusing on the entire organization, such as customer service and supply chain. 

BCPs focus on reducing overall costs or losses, while disaster recovery plans look only at technology downtimes and related costs. Disaster recovery plans tend to involve only IT personnel—which create and manage the policy. However, BCPs tend to have more personnel trained on the potential processes. 

Why Is Business Continuity Plan (BCP) Important?

Businesses are prone to a host of disasters that vary in degree from minor to catastrophic and business continuity plans (BCPs) are an important part of any business. BCP is typically meant to help a company continue operating in the event of threats and disruptions. This could result in a loss of revenue and higher costs, which leads to a drop in profitability. And businesses can't rely on insurance alone because it doesn't cover all the costs and the customers who move to the competition.

What Should a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) Include?

Business continuity plans involve identifying any and all risks that can affect the company's operations. The plan should also determine how those risks will affect operations and implement safeguards and procedures to mitigate the risks. There should also be testing procedures to ensure these safeguards and procedures work. Finally, there should be a review process to make sure that the plan is up to date.

What Is Business Continuity Impact Analysis?

An important part of developing a BCP is a business continuity impact analysis which identifies the effects of disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses the information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.

FEMA provides an operational and financial impact worksheet to help run a business continuity analysis.

These worksheets summarize the impacts—both financial and operational—that stem from the loss of individual business functions and processes. They also identify when the loss of a function or process would result in the identified business impacts.

Business continuity plans (BCPs) are created to help speed up the recovery of an organization filling a threat or disaster. The plan puts in place mechanisms and functions to allow personnel and assets to minimize company downtime. BCPs cover all organizational risks should a disaster happen, such as flood or fire.  

Federal Emergency Management Agency. " Business Process Analysis and Business Impact Analysis User Guide ." Pages 15 - 17.

Ready. “ IT Disaster Recovery Plan .”

Federal Emergency Management Agency. " Business Process Analysis and Business Impact Analysis User Guide ." Pages 15-17.

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Free Business Continuity Plan Templates

By Andy Marker | October 23, 2018

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In this article, you’ll find the most useful free, downloadable business continuity plan (BCP) templates, in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and PDF formats. Customize the templates to fit the needs of your business, ensuring you maintain critical operations at all times.

Included on this page, you’ll find a business continuity plan template , a small business continuity plan template , a business continuity framework template , and more.

Business Continuity Plan Template

Business Continuity Plan Template

Download Business Continuity Plan Template

Word | PowerPoint | PDF  | Smartsheet

Use this template to document and track your business operations in the event of a disruption or disaster to maintain critical processes. With space to record business function recovery priorities, recovery plans, and alternate site locations, this template allows you to plan efficiently for disruption and minimize downtime, so your business maintains optimal efficiency. This template is available for download in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and PDF formats.

Additionally, you can learn the definition of a business continuity plan, the steps involved in business continuity planning, as well as about the business continuity lifecycle in our article about business continuity planning .

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IT Service Continuity Plan Template

IT Service Continuity Plan template

Download IT Service Continuity Plan Template

This template is geared specifically to IT business operations and aims to maintain IT processes despite any possible harmful disruption. Use this template to document recovery objectives, teams, and strategies in order to accurately capture all facets of the continuity plan needed for an IT team. This template is available in both Word and PDF formats.

Business Continuity Framework Template

Business Continuity Framework Template

Download Business Continuity Framework Template

Word | PowerPoint | PDF

This template outlines the structure involved in creating a business continuity plan. It provides an easy, comprehensive way to detail the steps that will comprise your unique BCP. Use this template to plan each phase of a typical BCP, including the business impact analysis, recovery strategies, and plan development. This template can serve as an overall framework for your larger BCP plan.

Business Continuity Program Template

Business Continuity Program template

Download Business Continuity Program Template

Similar to the business continuity plan template, this template documents the steps involved in maintaining normal business operations during an unplanned disruption or disaster. Using this template, you can plan out the critical elements needed to continue business as usual, including recovery priorities, backup and restoration plans, and alternate site locations. This template is available for download in both Microsoft Word and PDF formats.

Business Continuity Procedure Template

Business Continuity Procedure Template

Download Business Continuity Procedure Template

Much like the business continuity framework template, this template helps users create a thorough, streamlined BCP by detailing the procedure involved in creating and maintaining a plan, as well as implementing one. Use this template to document everything from a business impact analysis to plan development, plan testing, and exercises. Download this template in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or PDF to get started.

Business Continuity Plan Template for Nonprofits

Business Continuity Plan Template For Nonprofits

Download Business Continuity Plan Template for Nonprofits

In the event of a disruption in business that affects your nonprofit organization, use this template to document a business recovery strategy, identify alternate business locations, and effectively plan for inevitable business downtime. This template is available for download in Microsoft Word and PDF formats.

School Business Continuity Plan Template

School Business Continuity Plan Template

Download School Business Continuity Plan Template

Plan for disruptions in regular school activities and operations in the event of emergency or crisis with this helpful template. This template, designed with schools, colleges, and universities in mind, allows you to prioritize operations and responses, identify important phases of recovery, design a restoration plan, and more.

Small Business Continuity Plan Template

Small Business Continuity Plan Template

Download Small Business Continuity Plan Template

Record your business recovery priorities, identify alternate site locations to conduct business, create recovery teams, and assign recovery responsibilities to specific team members with this continuity plan for small businesses. Ensure that you are able to maintain critical processes and minimize downtime so your business can keep moving forward.

SaaS Business Continuity Plan Template

SaaS Business Continuity Plan Template

Download SaaS Business Continuity Plan Template

Use this business continuity plan template to keep your SaaS business productive and efficient, despite any unforeseen events or disruptions. With space to record everything from recovery procedures and strategies to relocation strategies and alternate site locations, you’ll be able to keep business moving and remain productive during a crisis or disruption.

Business Continuity Plan Template for Medical Practices

Business Continuity Plan Template For Medical Practices

Download Business Continuity Plan Template for Medical Practices

Identify risk strategies for specific areas of business, like clinical, finance and operations, and IT, designate specific recovery strategies, and prioritize the most important, mission-critical operations for your medical practice with this complete business continuity plan template.

Business Continuity Plan Template for Healthcare Organizations

Business Continuity Plan Template for Healthcare Organizations Template

Download Business Continuity Plan Template for Healthcare Organizations

Some businesses, like healthcare organizations, rely on critical processes and procedures to maintain productivity and keep both patients and staff safe. To ensure these processes are followed — even during a business disruption — use this business continuity plan template to identify all potential risks, create mitigation plans, and assign tasks to key team members.

Activities to Complete Before Writing the Business Continuity Plan

Certain steps can help you prepare to write a business continuity plan. See our article on how to write a business continuity plan to learn more.

Common Structure of a Business Continuity Plan

Every business continuity plan should include certain common elements. See our article on how to write a business continuity plan to learn more.

Tips For Writing Your Business Continuity Plan

Business continuity experts have gathered time-tested tips for business continuity planning. See our article on how to write a business continuity plan to learn more.

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Enterprises are often defined by how they deal with events that are out of their control. For example, how you react to a disruptive technology or cope with a sudden change in the markets can be the difference between success and failure.

Contingency planning is the art of preparing for the unexpected. But where do you start and how do you separate the threats that could do real harm to your business from the ones that aren’t as critical?

Here are some important definitions, best practices and strong examples to help you build contingency plans for whatever your business faces.

What is a contingency plan?

Business contingency plans, also known as “business continuity plans” or “emergency response plans” are action plans to help organizations resume normal business operations after an unintended interruption. Organizations build contingency plans to help them face a variety of threats, including natural disasters, unplanned downtime, data loss, network breaches and sudden shifts in customer demand.

A good place to start is with a series of “what if” questions that propose various worst-case scenarios you’ll need to have a plan for. For example:

  • What if a critical asset breaks down, causing delays in production?
  • What if your top three engineers all quit at the same time?
  • What if the country where your microprocessors are built was suddenly invaded?

Good contingency plans prioritize the risks an organization faces, delegate responsibility to members of the response teams and increase the likelihood that the company will make a full recovery after a negative event.

Five steps to build a strong contingency plan

1. make a list of risks and prioritize them according to likelihood and severity..

In the first stage of the contingency planning process, stakeholders brainstorm a list of potential risks the company faces and conduct risk analysis on each one. Team members discuss possible risks, analyze the risk impact of each one and propose courses of action to increase their overall preparedness. You don’t need to create a risk management plan for every threat your company faces, just the ones your decision-makers assess as both highly likely and with a potential impact on normal business processes.

2. Create a business impact analysis (BIA) report

Business impact analysis (BIA) is a crucial step in understanding how the different business functions of an enterprise will respond to unexpected events. One way to do this is to look at how much company revenue is being generated by the business unit at risk. If the BIA indicates that it’s a high percentage, the company will most likely want to prioritize creating a contingency plan for this business risk.

3. Make a plan

For each potential threat your company faces that has both a high likelihood of occurring and a high potential impact on business operations, you can follow these three simple steps to create a plan:

  • Identify triggers that will set a plan into action: For example, if a hurricane is approaching, when does the storm trigger your course of action? When it’s 50 miles away? 100 miles? Your teams will need clear guidance so they will know when to start executing the actions they’ve been assigned.
  • Design an appropriate response: The threat your organization prepared for has arrived and teams are springing into action. Everyone involved will need clear, accessible instructions, protocols that are easy to follow and a way to communicate with other stakeholders.
  • Delegate responsibility clearly and fairly: Like any other initiative, contingency planning requires effective project management to succeed. One proven way to address this is to create a RACI chart . RACI stands for responsible, accountable, consulted and informed, and it is widely used in crisis management to help teams and individuals delegate responsibility and react to crises in real time.

4. Get buy-in from the entire organization—and be realistic about cost

Sometimes it can be hard to justify the importance of putting resources into preparing for something that might never happen. But if the events of these past few years have taught us anything, it’s that having strong contingency plans is invaluable.

Think of the supply chain problems and critical shortages wreaked by the pandemic or the chaos to global supply chains brought about by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. When it comes to convincing business leaders of the value of having a strong Plan B in place, it’s important to look at the big picture—not just the cost of the plan but the potential costs incurred if no plan is put in place.

5. Test and reassess your plans regularly

Markets and industries are constantly shifting, so the reality that a contingency plan faces when it is triggered might be very different than the one it was created for. Plans should be tested at least once annually, and new risk assessments performed.

Contingency plan examples

Here are some model scenarios that demonstrate how different kinds of businesses would prepare to face risks. The three-step process outlined here can be used to create contingency plans templates for whatever threats your organization faces.

A network provider facing a massive outage

What if your core business was so critical to your customers that downtime of even just a few hours could result in millions of dollars in lost revenue? Many internet and cellular networks face this challenge every year. Here’s an example of a contingency plan that would help them prepare to face this problem:

  • Assess the severity and likelihood of the risk: A recent study by Open Gear showed that only 9% of global organizations avoid network outages in an average quarter. Coupled with what is known about these attacks—that they can cause millions of dollars in damage and take an immeasurable toll on business reputation—this risk would have to be considered both highly likely and highly severe in terms of the potential damage it could do to the company.
  • Identify the trigger that will set your plan in action: In this example, what signs should decision-makers have watched for to know when a likely outage was beginning? These might include security breaches, looming natural disasters or any other event that has preceded outages in the past.
  • Create the right response: The organization’s leaders will want to determine a reasonable recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) for each service and data category their company faces. RTO is usually measured with a simple time metric, such as days, hours or minutes. RPO is a bit more complicated as it involves determining the minimum/maximum age of files that can be recovered quickly from backup systems in order to restore the network to normal operations.  

A food distribution company coping with an unexpected shortage

If your core business has complex supply chains that run through different regions and countries, monitoring geopolitical conditions in those places will be critical to maintaining the health of your business operations. In this example, we’ll look at a food distributor preparing to face a shortage of a much-needed ingredient due to volatility in a region that’s critical to its supply chain:

  • Assess the severity and likelihood of the risk: The company’s leaders have been following the news in the region where they source the ingredient and are concerned about the possibility of political unrest. Since they need this ingredient to make one of their best-selling products, both the likelihood and potential severity of this risk are rated as high.
  • Identify the trigger that will set your plan in action: War breaks out in the region, shutting down all ports of entry/exit and severely restricting transport within the country via air, roads and railroads. Transportation of their ingredient will be challenging until stability returns to the region.
  • Create the right response: The company’s business leaders create a two-pronged contingency plan to help them face this problem. First, they proactively search for alternate suppliers of this ingredient in regions that aren’t so prone to volatility. These suppliers may cost more and take time to switch to, but when the overall cost of a general production disruption that would come about in the event of war is factored in, the cost is worth it. Second, they look for an alternative to this ingredient that they can use in their product.

A social network experiencing a customer data breach

The managers of a large social network know of a cybersecurity risk in their app that they are working to fix. In the event that they’re hacked before they fix it, they are likely to lose confidential customer data:

  • Assess the severity and likelihood of risk: They rate the likelihood of this event as high , since, as a social network, they are a frequent target of attacks. They also rate the potential severity of damage to the company as high since any loss of confidential customer data will expose them to lawsuits.
  • Identify the trigger that will set your plan in action: Engineers make the social network’s leadership aware that an attack has been detected and that their customer’s confidential information has been compromised.
  • Create the right response: The network contracts with a special response team to come to their aid in the event of an attack and help them secure their information systems and restore app functionality. They also change their IT infrastructure to make customer data more secure. Lastly, they work with a reputable PR firm to prepare a plan for outreach and messaging to reassure customers in the event that their personal information is compromised.

The value of contingency planning 

When business operations are disrupted by a negative event, good contingency planning gives an organization’s response structure and discipline. During a crisis, decision-makers and employees often feel overwhelmed by the pile-up of events beyond their control, and having a thorough backup plan helps reestablish confidence and return operations to normal.  

Here are a few benefits organizations can expect from strong contingency plans:

  • Improved recovery times: Businesses with good plans in place recover faster from a disruptive event than companies that haven’t prepared.  
  • Reduced costs—financial and reputational: Good contingency plans minimize both financial and reputational damage to a company. For example, while a data breach at a social network that compromises customer information could result in lawsuits, it could also cause long-term damage if customers decide to leave the network because they no longer trust the company to keep their personal information safe.
  • Greater confidence and morale: Many organizations use contingency plans to show employees, shareholders and customers that they’ve thought through every possible eventuality that might befall their company, giving them confidence that the company has their interests in mind.

Contingency plan solutions

IBM Maximo Application Suite is an integrated cloud-based solution that helps businesses respond quickly to changing conditions. By combining the power of artificial intelligence (AI) , Internet of Things (IoT) and advanced analytics, it enables organizations to maximize the performance of their most valuable assets, lengthen their lifespans and minimize costs and downtime.

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7 Real-Life Business Continuity Examples You’ll Want to Read

Tracy Rock

  • March 14, 2022

Business Continuity Examples You Need to Know

It’s no secret that we believe in the importance of disaster preparedness and business continuity  at every organization. But what does that planning actually look like when it’s put to the test in a real-world scenario?

Today, we look at 7 business continuity examples to show how organizations have worked to minimize downtime (or not) after critical events.

Business Continuity Examples: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

1) ransomware disrupts ireland’s healthcare system  .

For years, healthcare organizations have been a top target for ransomware attacks. The critical nature of their operations, combined with notoriously lax IT security throughout the industry, are a magnet for ransomware groups looking for big payouts.

But despite the warnings, healthcare orgs still remain vulnerable. A prime example was the 2021 ransomware attack on Ireland’s healthcare system (HSE) – the fallout from which was still being understood nearly a year later.

According to reports, the attack had a widespread impact on operations:

  • Dozens of outpatient services were shut down
  • IT outages affected at least 5 hospitals, including Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) at Crumlin Hospital
  • Employee payment systems were knocked offline, delaying pay for 146,000 staff
  • Covid-19 test results were delayed and a Covid-19 vaccine portal went offline
  • Appointments were canceled across numerous facilities and medical departments
  • Near-full recovery and restoration of all servers and applications took more than 3 months

All told, the attack was projected to cost more than $100 million in recovery efforts alone. That figure does not include the projected costs to implement a wide range of new security protocols that were recommended in the wake of the attack.

Like several of the business continuity examples highlighted below, the Ireland attack did have some good disaster recovery methods in place. Despite the impact of the event, there were several mitigating factors that prevented the attack from being even worse, such as:

  • Once the attack was known, cybersecurity teams shut down more than 85,000 computers to stop the spread.
  • Disaster recovery teams inspected more than 2,000 IT systems, one by one, to contain the damage and ensure they were clean.
  • Cloud-based systems were not exposed to the ransomware.

However, there was some luck involved.

As HSE raced to contain the damage from the attack and secured a High Court Injunction to restrain the sharing of its hacked data, the attackers suddenly released the decryption key online. Without that decryption, HSE would not have had adequate data backup systems to recover from the attack. As the group concluded in its post-incident review :

“It is unclear how much data would have been unrecoverable if a decryption key had not become available as the HSE’s backup infrastructure was only periodically backed up to offline tape. Therefore it is highly likely that segments of data for backup would have remained encrypted, resulting in significant data loss. It is also likely to have taken considerably longer to recover systems without the decryption key.”

2) The city of Atlanta is hobbled by ransomware

There has been no shortage of other headline-making ransomware attacks over the last few years. But one that stands out (and whose impact reverberated for at least a year after the incident) was the March 2018 SamSam  ransomware attack on the City of Atlanta .

The attack devastated the city government’s computer systems:

  • Numerous city services were disrupted, including police records, courts, utilities, parking services and other programs.
  • Computer systems were shut down for 5 days, forcing many departments to complete essential paperwork by hand.
  • Even as services were slowly brought back online over the following weeks, the full recovery took months.

Attackers demanded a $52,000 ransom payment. But when all was said and done, the full impact of the attack was projected to cost more than $17 million. Nearly $3 million alone was spent on contracts for emergency IT consultants and crisis management firms.

In many ways, the Atlanta ransomware attack is a lesson in inadequate business continuity planning. The event revealed that the city’s IT was woefully unprepared for the attack. Just two months prior, an audit found 1,500 to 2,000 vulnerabilities in the city’s IT systems, which were compounded by “obsolete software and an IT culture driven by ‘ad hoc or undocumented’ processes,” according to  StateScoop .

Which vulnerabilities allowed the attack to happen? Weak passwords, most likely. That is a common entry point for SamSam attackers, who use brute-force software to guess thousands of password combinations in a matter of seconds. Frankly, it’s an unsophisticated method that could have been prevented with stronger password management protocols.

Despite the business continuity missteps, credit should still be given to the many IT professionals (internal and external) who worked to restore critical city services as quickly as possible. What’s clear is that the city did have some disaster recovery procedures in place that allowed it to restore critical services. If it hadn’t, the event likely would have been much worse.

3) Fire torches office of managed services provider (MSP)

Here’s an example of business continuity done right:

In 2013, lightning struck an office building in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, causing a fire to break out. The offices were home to Cantey Technology, an IT company that hosts servers for more than 200 clients.

The fire torched Cantey’s network infrastructure, melting cables and burning its computer hardware. The equipment was destroyed beyond repair and the office was unusable. For a company whose core service is hosting servers for other companies, the situation looked bleak. Cantey’s entire infrastructure was destroyed.

But ultimately, Cantey’s clients never knew the difference:

  • As part of its business continuity plan, Cantey had already moved its client servers to a remote data center, where continual backups were stored.
  • Even though Cantey’s staff were forced to move to a temporary office, its clients never experienced any interruption in service.

It was an outcome that could have turned out very differently. Only five years prior, the company had kept all of its client servers on site. But founder Willis Cantey made the right determination that this setup created too many risks. All it would take is one major on-site disruption to wipe out his entire business, as well as his clients’ businesses, potentially leaving him exposed to legal liabilities as well.

Cantey thus implemented a more comprehensive business continuity plan and moved his clients’ servers off-site. And in doing so, he averted disaster.

4) Computer virus infects UK hospital network

In another post , we highlighted one of the worst business continuity examples we saw in 2016 – before ransomware had become a well-known threat in the business community.

On October 30, 2016, a nasty “computer virus” infected a network of hospitals in the UK, known as the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust. At the time, little was known about the virus, but its impact on operations was devastating:

  • The virus crippled its systems and halted operations at three separate hospitals for five days.
  • Patients were literally turned away at the door and sent to other hospitals, even in cases of “major trauma” or childbirth.
  • In total, more than 2,800 patient procedures and appointments were canceled because of the attack. Only critical emergency patients, such as those suffering from severe accidents, were admitted.

Remarkably, a report in Computing.co.uk speculated that there had been no business continuity plan document in place. Even if there had been, clearly there were failings. Disaster scenarios can be truly life-or-death at healthcare facilities. Every healthcare organization must have a clear business continuity plan outlined with comprehensive measures for responding to a critical IT systems failure. If there had been in this case, the hospitals likely could have remained open with little to no disruption.

The hospital system was initially tight-lipped about the attack. But in the year following the incident, it became clear that ransomware was to blame – specifically, the Globe2 variant.

Interestingly, however, hospital officials did not say the ransomware infection was due to an infected email being opened (which is what allows most infections to occur). Instead, they said a misconfigured firewall was to blame. (It’s unclear then exactly how the ransomware passed through the firewall—it may have come through inboxes after all.) Unfortunately, officials knew about the firewall misconfiguration before the attack occurred, which is what makes this incident a prime example of a business continuity failure. The organization had plans to fix the problem, but they were too late. The attack occurred “before the necessary work on weakest parts of the system had been completed.”

5) Electric company responds to unstable WAN connection

Here is another example of well-executed business continuity.

After a major electric company in Georgia  experienced failure  with one of its data lines, it took several proactive steps to ensuring its critical systems would not experience interruption in the future. The company implemented a FatPipe WARP at its main site, bonding two connections to achieve redundancy, and it also readied plans for a third data line. Additionally, the company replicated its mission-critical servers off-site, incorporating its own site-failover WARP.

According to Disasterrecovery.org:

“Each office has a WARP, which bonds lines from separate ISPs connected by a fiber loop. They effectively established data-line failover at both offices by setting up a single WARP at each location. They also accomplished a total site failover solution by implementing the site failover between the disaster recovery and main office locations.”

While the initial WAN problem was minimal, this is a good example of a company that is planning ahead to prevent a worst-case scenario. Given the critical nature of the utility company’s services (which deliver energy to 170,000 homes across five counties surrounding Atlanta), it’s imperative that there are numerous failsafes in place.

6) German telecom giant rapidly restores service after fire

Among the better business continuity examples we’ve seen, incident management solutions are increasingly playing an important role.

Take the case of a German telecom company that discovered a dangerous fire was encroaching on one of its crucial facilities. The building was a central switching center, which housed important telecom wiring and equipment that were vital to providing service to millions of customers.

The company uses an incident management system from Simba, which alerted staff to the fire, evaluated the impact of the incident, automatically activated incident management response teams and sent emergency alerts to Simba’s 1,600 Germany-based employees. The fire did indeed reach the building, ultimately knocking out the entire switching center. But with an effective incident management system in place, combined with a redundant network design, the company was able to fully restore service within six hours.

7) Internet marketing firm goes mobile in face of Hurricane Harvey

Research shows that 40-60% of small businesses never reopen their doors after a major disaster. Here’s an example of one small firm that didn’t want to become another statistic.

In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey slammed into Southeast Texas, ravaging homes and businesses across the region. Over 4 days, some areas received more than 40 inches of rain. And by the time the storm cleared, it had caused more than $125 billion in damage.

Countless small businesses were devastated by the hurricane. Gaille Media, a small Internet marketing agency, was  almost  one of them. Despite being located on the second floor of an office building, Gaille’s offices were flooded when Lake Houston overflowed. The flooding was so severe, nobody could enter the building for three months. And when Gaille’s staff were finally able to enter the space after water levels receded, any hopes for recovering the space were quickly crushed. The office was destroyed, and mold was rampant.

The company never returned to the building. However, its operations were hardly affected.

That’s because Gaille kept most of its data stored in the cloud, allowing staff to work remotely through the storm and after. Even with the office shuttered, they never lost access to their critical documents and records. In fact, when it came time to decide where to relocate, the owner ultimately decided to keep the company decentralized, allowing workers to continue working remotely (and providing a glimpse of how other businesses around the world would similarly adapt to disaster during the Covid-19 pandemic three years later).

Had the company kept all its data stored at the office, the business may never have recovered.

Examples of poor business continuity planning

Some of the real-life business continuity examples above paint a picture of what can go wrong when there are lapses in continuity planning. But what exactly do those lapses look like? What are the specific failures that can increase a company’s risk of disaster?

Here are the big ones:

  • No business continuity plan: Every business needs a BCP that outlines its unique threats, along with protocols for prevention and recovery.
  • No risk assessment: A major component of your BCP is a risk assessment that should define how your business is at risk of various disaster scenarios. We list several examples of these risks below.
  • No business impact analysis: The risk assessment is useless without an analysis of how those threats actually affect the business. Organizations must conduct an impact analysis to understand how various events will disrupt operations and at what cost.
  • No prevention: Business continuity isn’t just about keeping the business running in a disaster. It’s about risk mitigation as well. Companies must be proactive about implementing technologies and protocols that will  prevent  disruptive events from occurring in the first place.
  • No recovery plan:  Every disaster scenario needs a clear path to recovery. Without such protocols and systems, recovery will take far longer, if it happens at all.

Examples of threats to your business continuity

It’s important to remember that business-threatening disasters can take many forms. It’s not always a destructive natural disaster. In fact, it’s far more common to experience disaster from “the inside” – events that hurt your productivity or affect your IT infrastructure and are just as disruptive to your operations.

Example threats include:

  • Cyberattacks
  • Malware and viruses
  • Network & internet disruptions
  • Hardware/software failure
  • Natural disasters
  • Severe weather
  • Flooding (including pipe bursts)
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Office vandalism/destruction
  • Workforce stoppages (transportation blockages, strikes, etc.)

The list goes on and on. Any single one of these threats can disrupt your business, which is why it’s so important to take continuity planning seriously.

Business continuity technology

Within IT, data loss is often the primary focus of business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR). And for good reason …

Data is the lifeblood of most business operations today, encompassing all the emails, files, software and operating systems that companies depend on every day. A major loss of data, whether caused by ransomware, human error or some other event, can be disastrous for businesses of any size.

Backing up that data is thus a vital component of business continuity planning.

Today’s  best data backup systems  are smarter and more resilient than they were even just a decade ago. Solutions from Datto, for example, are built with numerous features to ensure continuity, including hybrid cloud technology (backups stored both on-site and in the cloud), instant virtualization, ransomware detection and automatic backup verification, just to name a few.

Like other BC initiatives, a data backup solution itself won’t prevent data-loss events from occurring. But it does ensure that businesses can rapidly recover data if/when disaster strikes, so that operations are minimally impacted – and that’s the whole point of business continuity.

Learn more: request a free demo

For more information on data backup solutions from Datto,  request a free demo  – or contact our business continuity experts at Invenio IT by calling (646) 395-1170 or by emailing  [email protected] .

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Three team members sit at a conference table and one stands, describing the details of a disaster recovery plan.

How to Build a Disaster Recovery Plan for Better Business Continuity

A disaster can derail your business without warning. Get back to business quickly and safely with a disaster recovery plan.


What Is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

  • 6 Steps to Build Your Plan
  • Instill a Culture of Preparedness

Within days of the tragic terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, business disruptions began rippling outward from New York City. Trucks delayed at the Canadian and Mexican borders led to shut-down assembly lines at Ford Motor Company. The Toyota factory in Indiana couldn’t make cars because parts weren’t coming in from Germany with air traffic shut down.

September 11, 2001 was a watershed event that forced many business leaders to “wake up” and admit that disasters can and do have widespread and lasting impacts globally. Over the decades that followed, disaster recovery became less about reacting to a crisis and more about ongoing risk management.

As John Liuzzi, National Director of Business Continuity at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, shared , professionals in his field no longer see disaster recovery and business continuity as administrative or compliance issues but as an integrated part of the business. Liuzzi says, “It’s about threat intelligence, disaster recovery, and crisis management that’s all seamless.”

A single human error can spur disruptive events from your supply chain to the front of the house. The longer your business stays out of service, the greater the loss to your people, systems, physical assets, and your company’s reputation.

From navigating a national tragedy to local demonstrations or a sudden blackout, a well-executed disaster recovery plan is your key to coming away with as few scratches as possible. Let’s break down what that could look like for your business.

Download Our Business Continuity Checklist

A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is a documented strategy for returning to normal operations quickly after an unexpected incident. The purpose is to provide specific instructions for actions to take before, during, and after any disaster. A comprehensive DRP should address all types of disasters, including human-instigated and natural, internal and offsite, accidental and intentional.

The range of potential disaster scenarios covered by a DR plan includes:

  • Malware or ransomware
  • System outages
  • IT infrastructure failure
  • Equipment failures
  • Building damages
  • Power outages
  • Civil Unrest
  • Citywide or regional issues
  • Health crises

What’s included in a disaster recovery plan?

The exact structure depends on your business, but a disaster recovery strategy typically begins with risk analysis and includes plans for emergency operations , data backup and recovery, redundancy and backup systems, communications, and incident recovery—all supporting the goal of preserving business continuity.

While business continuity and disaster recovery go hand in hand, they’re not interchangeable. A DR plan is more focused than a business continuity plan and does not necessarily cover all contingencies for business processes, assets, human resources, and external partners.

Disasters Are an Ongoing Threat to Business Continuity

Businesses lose a lot to disasters each year—especially catastrophic events such as floods and hurricanes. In 2022, the world suffered $313 billion in losses from natural disasters. But catastrophic events can also be driven by humans. Security breaches are one example of a common and costly human-made disaster, and they can lead to business downtime amounting to about $4.5 million per incident.

Whatever the reason—products aren’t available, stores can’t open, data centers fail, or your teams can’t get to work—everybody suffers. Your company sacrifices revenue, employees miss out on wages, and customers are left unserved. And once that cycle sets in, it can perpetuate itself.

If your business is located in an area susceptible to specific weather events, you absolutely need to plan for natural disasters. For example, plan for hurricanes in southern coastal areas, blizzards in snow-prone areas, or wildfires in the western and southwestern United States.

New market expansion or rapid team expansion can pose an added risk to business recovery, thanks to new processes, equipment, sites, and relationships. But even when it’s business as usual, all it takes is a cyberattack, an unexpected storm, or a chewed-through cable to cause the type of incident that could derail business operations.

If your organization’s disaster recovery plan is nonexistent, outdated, or a glorified checklist, now is the time to review, revise, or create a plan for disaster recovery solutions—before you need it.

Build Your Comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan in 6 Steps

1. assess risks and vulnerabilities.

The first step is a risk assessment to uncover the threats you’re up against. A threat assessment and business impact analysis (BIA) will help you identify potential disasters and understand the possible consequences.

Take inventory of each functional area of the organization, your sites, people, physical and digital assets, key suppliers, and partners. Document your business’s internal infrastructure and data management to facilitate rebuilding after a disaster, and prioritize components based on their importance to business continuity.

2. Create your team

Decide who will create, update, and execute the plan. This disaster team will spearhead recovery and communication efforts during a crisis.

Assign specific tasks to your disaster recovery team members and document responsibilities, with one person as team leader. Ensure the disaster management team includes representation from each business function and align recovery tasks to each business unit so every department is included.

3. Establish clear objectives and priorities

Define the goals and objectives your recovery efforts will accomplish. Determine what the plan will and won’t cover, and establish critical questions to answer like, “Where do we relocate people or migrate systems?” and “Which applications and infrastructure must be restored immediately in case of a disaster?”

Based on your business impact analysis, define recovery time objectives (RTO) for applications, hardware, equipment, and other critical systems within the business. Recovery point objectives (RPO) are another key metric to establish the maximum allowable data loss in the event of a disaster impacting information systems.

Expressed in seconds, minutes, hours, or days, your RTOs define the acceptable time since the last data recovery point and should be calculated based on their importance. In other words, how long before an outage could a data recovery take place before the business would be impacted negatively?

4. Create a communication plan

During a fire, flood, or other disaster, seconds count and connectivity is the key to maximizing your time. Your crisis communication plan can make the difference between “crisis averted” and catastrophic consequences. In devising a disaster recovery communication plan, prioritize these steps:

Identify key audiences: Determine who will need information during and after a disaster, such as employees, customers, suppliers, city officials, and local first responders. Keep contact information up to date so you can get in touch quickly.

Pro tip: An emergency mass communication system can even help you group audiences that may need different information at different times. By organizing contact groups in advance, you lose no time sending critical messages to ensure people’s safety and mitigate operational disruptions.


Establish media protocols: Establish guidelines for interacting with the media during a crisis. Designate spokespersons and prepare them with key messages to ensure a clear and consistent message.

Create communication templates: Develop templated messages that you can quickly customize for each scenario. Know who is in charge of sending the messages and train them on procedures and how to use the emergency communication solution.

Set up communication centers: Equip these centers with scripts, FAQs, and necessary technologies to handle inquiries and provide information for customers, suppliers, employees, and the media.

5. Document the disaster recovery process

Create step-by-step instructions in plain language to restore critical functions quickly after a disaster. Your emergency response plan should outline each step in disaster recovery procedures, document the order of operations, and assign each task to an owner.

Documentation of the disaster recovery process may include:

  • Criteria for when you will activate the disaster recovery plan in different scenarios
  • Records of all critical applications, cloud services, data storage services, service providers, and hardware and planned backup systems
  • Communication protocols and instructions for the team in charge of the communications plan
  • Precautions and preventive measures to guard against future disasters
  • Emergency response procedures for evacuations, calling authorities, alternative work locations, supply chain contingencies, etc.
  • Strategies, tools, and technologies used for data protection, storage, backup procedures, replication, and recovery
  • A review of insurance coverages, including policies for flood, earthquake, or business interruption insurance

Store the DRP documentation away from the network in a secure yet accessible location. Consider immutable storage to prevent loss or unauthorized changes to the document.

6. Test and update the plan

You can’t possibly predict every scenario that might occur during a disaster. Doing a dry run is the best way to determine if your plan will work when you need it.

Stress test your plan through partial and full-scale recovery simulations. Use an after-action report to learn where there is room for improvement, then analyze, update, and retest different plans to find the best possible course of action. Conduct surprise drills to see how people and plans will function when an unexpected disaster strikes.

Southern Glazer's podcast Youtube cover image

Instill a Culture of Preparedness in Your Organization

Ideally, disaster recovery is more than a checklist or an annual compliance exercise. “It has to be built into your organizational DNA.” said Liuzzi. He goes on to say that your chances of success are higher when you “make it part of the business, not separate” and shares some of his best practices for disaster recovery.

Monitor for ongoing threats

As the world’s largest wine and spirits distributor, Southern Glazer’s needs to be alert 24/7 to manage its complex global supply chain. With ongoing threat intelligence, they are the first to know about all types of external risks—upcoming storms, wildfires in impacted areas, demonstrations, or geopolitical upsets. When contextual risk intelligence is built into your emergency preparedness, you’re not spending excessive time and resources monitoring and filtering through potential threats.

Nurture internal and external relationships before an incident happens

As Liuzzi attests from experience, running a successful business continuity program is about being prepared and building a culture where preparedness is not an afterthought. Part of building this level of safety culture is creating partnerships before an incident happens. For example, you could join an industry-specific safety organization. Support local fire, police, and emergency services departments at their events and work with them for company training.

Internally, nurturing a culture of emergency preparedness might look like:

  • Proactively providing access to resources like emergency kits and online tools for employee preparedness
  • Engaging employees in ongoing training, drills, and testing Promoting company values that include situational awareness and company resilience
  • Running disaster recovery tabletop exercises as part of a safety meeting
  • Partnering with your global security operations center ( GSOC ) and other org-wide teams to optimize backup and recovery plans
  • Winning buy-in from executive stakeholders by tying the value of business continuity to the data they care about

Optimize Your Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Strategies

You can’t always avoid disasters, but you can prepare for them. A disaster recovery plan helps you recover what is lost (data, physical property, or something else) and get back to running smoothly as soon as possible. More importantly, educating your teams and building ongoing support for disaster recovery and continuity programs will go a long way in helping your organization respond quickly and effectively in an emergency.

More Articles You May Be Interested In

Disaster Recovery Tabletop Exercises Prepare You to Bounce Back

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