Free Business Continuity Plan Templates
By Andy Marker | October 23, 2018
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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Service Desk Business Continuity Plan Template
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Download this Service Desk Business Continuity Plan Template Design in Word, Google Docs, PDF, Apple Pages Format. Easily Editable, Printable, Downloadable.
This template allows you to anticipate and mitigate the risks your Business's Communications Center might face. The sample content is complete with matrices that help you meticulously detail risk analysis, responsibilities, required resources, and response plans. With an embedded calendar of actions, you can manage targets more efficiently. Download a copy now to enjoy other perks this template can offer.
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Back to Glossary
What is a business continuity plan?
A business continuity plan refers to an organization’s system of procedures to restore critical business functions in the event of an unplanned disaster. These disasters could include natural disasters, cyberattacks, service outages, or other potential threats. Business continuity planning (BCP) enables organizations to resume business operations with minimal downtime.
Explore additional business continuity planning topics:
What is the purpose of a business continuity plan?
- 5 elements of a successful business continuity plan
- Citrix solutions for business continuity
An optimized business continuity plan encompasses three main components.
First, a company needs to be resilient. That means key business functions are designed within the context of potential disasters. The business continuity team runs a risk assessment against each function for weaknesses and susceptibilities, then establishes protections against them. This supports ongoing risk management policies.
Second, stakeholders prioritize functions and determine which need to be brought online first. Disaster recovery is a key factor, and the faster functions can return to an operational state, the less likely the organization is to sustain lasting damage. IT stakeholders set disaster recovery time goals and develop an actionable disaster recovery plan. After mission-critical functions return to working order, team members work down the list of priority functions, utilizing third-party support to implement recovery strategies as needed.
Third, organizations require a contingency plan with branching paths that describe chains of command, stakeholder responsibilities, and any necessary technical knowledge necessary for emergency management within established disaster scenarios. Finally, an optimized business continuity plan includes a recovery time objective (RTO) to establish the speed at which business operations must be recovered, and a business impact analysis (BIA) to determine how successful recovery efforts were. Likewise, a disaster report shows stakeholders how the disaster recovery planning process can improve in the future.
With these three elements, an organization can weather crises, assess damage quickly, and recover as soon as possible. It's also important to understand that a business continuity plan is a living document that must be updated regularly as the organization adopts new technologies and processes. As organizations grow to scale, they adopt new solutions and infrastructures; these must be accounted for in the plan, or disaster recovery challenges could become augmented by unexpected bottlenecks.
Five elements of a successful business continuity plan
Although each business disruption is unique and many decisions will have to be made as situations unfold, a business continuity plan provides a framework and preparation to guide these decisions, as well as a clear indication of who will make them. A successful business continuity plan includes the following elements.
1. Define a team structure
- Develop a clear decision-making hierarchy, so that in an emergency, people don’t wonder who has the responsibility or authority to make a given decision
- Create a core business continuity team with personnel from throughout the organization, including executive leaders, information technology, facilities, and real estate, as well as physical security, communications, human resources, finance, and other service departments
- Create supporting teams devoted to related functions such as emergency response, communications, campus response, and business readiness
2. Establish a plan
- Identify potential disruptions to your business process that can affect any of your organization’s locations, such as power outages, epidemics, and fires•
- Base your plan on worst-case scenarios rather than multiple graduated versions of each incident, to keep the number of scenarios manageable
- Prioritize the most essential operations as well as who will perform them and how work will be redirected if key people are unavailable
- Determine how employees will work from home in the event of a prolonged outage
- Update your plan annually to reflect changes in the criticality and dependency of applications, business priorities, risk management, business locations, operations, and other considerations
3. Test your plan
- Conduct full emergency simulations annually, including crisis communications, safety drills, and workplace recovery processes
- Measure your test results and strive for continuous improvements, whether they’re application availability goals or personnel safety assurances
4. Create a crisis communications strategy
- Establish emergency notification procedures, incorporating both push and pull systems to communicate quickly
- Identify all stakeholders for emergency communications, including employees, contractors, clients, vendors, media, and executive management—and collect all contact information
- Prepare scripted communications that can be easily updated and ready to transmit immediately
5. Educate people on safety procedures
- Train your workforce so they’re aware of the processes they should follow in the event of an emergency and so they know where to find resources for help
- Consult with local and federal agencies for emergency response training and other guidance for your program
- Conduct employee drills to help personnel become familiar with procedures, such as finding emergency exits
Citrix solutions for business continuity planning
If people can’t access the applications, data, and files they depend on, business stays down—and risks losing money, customers, productivity, reputation, and opportunities every moment it takes to get them back to work. Citrix keeps your business running during unplanned downtimes to ensure continuity of operations.
- Provide people with secure offsite access to a virtual applications and desktops, from any location and device
- Simplify business continuity management by leveraging everyday infrastructure, eliminating the need for separate tools, devices, and recovery units
- Ensure IT availability through rapid, automated datacenter failover, load balancing, and network capacity management as well as cloud-based deployment choices
What is business continuity?
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Business continuity management in Azure
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Azure maintains one of the most mature and respected business continuity management programs in the industry. The goal of business continuity in Azure is to build and advance recoverability and resiliency for all independently recoverable services, whether a service is customer-facing (part of an Azure offering) or an internal supporting platform service.
In understanding business continuity, it's important to note that many offerings are made up of multiple services. At Azure, each service is statically identified through tooling and is the unit of measure used for privacy, security, inventory, risk business continuity management, and other functions. To properly measure capabilities of a service, the three elements of people, process, and technology are included for each service, whatever the service type.
- If there's a business process based on people, such as a help desk or team, the service delivery is what they do. The people use processes and technology to perform the service.
- If there's technology as a service, such as Azure Virtual Machines, the service delivery is the technology along with the people and processes that support its operation.
Shared responsibility model
Many of the offerings Azure provides require customers to set up disaster recovery in multiple regions and aren't the responsibility of Microsoft. Not all Azure services automatically replicate data or automatically fall back from a failed region to cross-replicate to another enabled region. In these cases, recovery and replication must be configured by the customer.
Microsoft does ensure that the baseline infrastructure and platform services are available. But in some scenarios, usage requires the customer to duplicate their deployments and storage in a multi-region capacity, if they opt to. These examples illustrate the shared responsibility model. It's a fundamental pillar in your business continuity and disaster recovery strategy.
Division of responsibility
In any on-premises datacenter, you own the whole stack. As you move assets to the cloud, some responsibilities transfer to Microsoft. The following diagram illustrates areas and division of responsibility between you and Microsoft according to the type of deployment.
A good example of the shared responsibility model is the deployment of virtual machines. If a customer wants to set up cross-region replication for resiliency if there's region failure, they must deploy a duplicate set of virtual machines in an alternate enabled region. Azure doesn't automatically replicate these services over if there's a failure. It's the customer's responsibility to deploy necessary assets. The customer must have a process to manually change primary regions, or they must use a traffic manager to detect and automatically fail over.
Customer-enabled disaster recovery services all have public-facing documentation to guide you. For an example of public-facing documentation for customer-enabled disaster recovery, see Azure Data Lake Analytics .
For more information on the shared responsibility model, see Microsoft Trust Center .
Business continuity compliance: Service-level responsibility
Each service is required to complete Business Continuity Disaster Recovery records in the Azure Business Continuity Manager Tool. Service owners can use the tool to work within a federated model to complete and incorporate requirements that include:
Service properties : Defines the service and how disaster recovery and resiliency are achieved and identifies the responsible party for disaster recovery (for technology). For details on recovery ownership, see the discussion on the shared responsibility model in the preceding section and diagram.
Business impact analysis : This analysis helps the service owner define the recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) based on the criticality of the service across a table of impacts. Operational, legal, regulatory, brand image, and financial impacts are used as target goals for recovery.
Microsoft doesn't publish RTO or RPOs for services because this data is for internal measures only. All customer promises and measures are SLA-based because it covers a wider range versus RTO or RPO, which is only applicable in catastrophic loss.
Dependencies : Each service maps the dependencies (other services) it requires to operate no matter how critical, and is mapped to runtime, needed for recovery only, or both. If there are storage dependencies, another data is mapped that defines what's stored, and if it requires point-in-time snapshots, for example.
Workforce : As noted in the definition of a service, it's important to know the location and quantity of workforce able to support the service, ensuring no single points of failure, and if critical employees are dispersed to avoid failures by cohabitation in a single location.
External suppliers : Microsoft keeps a comprehensive list of external suppliers, and the suppliers deemed critical are measured for capabilities. If identified by a service as a dependency, supplier capabilities are compared to the needs of the service to ensure a third-party outage doesn't disrupt Azure services.
Recovery rating : This rating is unique to the Azure Business Continuity Management program. This rating measures several key elements to create a resiliency score:
- Willingness to fail over: Although there can be a process, it might not be the first choice for short-term outages.
- Automation of failover.
- Automation of the decision to fail over.
The most reliable and shortest time to failover is a service that's automated and requires no human decision. An automated service uses heartbeat monitoring or synthetic transactions to determine a service is down and to start immediate remediation.
Recovery plan and test : Azure requires every service to have a detailed recovery plan and to test that plan as if the service has failed because of catastrophic outage. The recovery plans are required to be written so that someone with similar skills and access can complete the tasks. A written plan avoids relying on subject matter experts being available.
Testing is done in several ways, including self-test in a production or near-production environment, and as part of Azure full-region down drills in canary region sets. These enabled regions are identical to production regions but can be disabled without affecting customers. Testing is considered integrated because all services are affected simultaneously.
Customer enablement : When the customer is responsible for setting up disaster recovery, Azure is required to have public-facing documentation guidance. For all such services, links are provided to documentation and details about the process.
Verify your business continuity compliance
When a service has completed its business continuity management record, you must submit it for approval. It's assigned to a business continuity management experienced practitioner who reviews the entire record for completeness and quality. If the record meets all requirements, it's approved. If it doesn't, it's rejected with a request for reworking. This process ensures that both parties agree that business continuity compliance has been met and that the work is only attested to by the service owner. Azure internal audit and compliance teams also do periodic random sampling to ensure the best data is being submitted.
Testing of services
Microsoft and Azure do extensive testing for both disaster recovery and for availability zone readiness. Services are self-tested in a production or pre-production environment to demonstrate independent recoverability for services that aren't dependent on major platform failovers.
To ensure services can similarly recover in a true region-down scenario, "pull-the-plug"-type testing is done in canary environments that are fully deployed regions matching production. For example, the clusters, racks, and power units are literally turned off to simulate a total region failure.
During these tests, Azure uses the same production process for detection, notification, response, and recovery. No individuals are expecting a drill, and engineers relied on for recovery are the normal on-call rotation resources. This timing avoids depending on subject matter experts who might not be available during an actual event.
Included in these tests are services where the customer is responsible for setting up disaster recovery following Microsoft public-facing documentation. Service teams create customer-like instances to show that customer-enabled disaster recovery works as expected and that the instructions provided are accurate.
For more information on certifications, see the Microsoft Trust Center and the section on compliance.
- Cross-region replication
- Reliability guidance overview for Microsoft Azure products and services
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