Critical Components to Cover in Your Business Continuity Plan

Black and white closed sign in store window

Fire, natural disasters or a national pandemic can quickly turn your day-to-day business operations upside down. When the unexpected happens, you need more than insurance to keep your company running—you need a business continuity plan to move forward and keep it afloat.

What is a business continuity plan? It’s a system that details the steps to take to keep your business going after a disruptive event occurs. A business continuity template can help guide you. Read on for more details on each step, and start putting a plan in place to ensure your business has the resources it needs to quickly recover from a disaster or crisis.

1. Perform a business impact analysis

Good business continuity planning starts with a business impact analysis. This first step identifies the essential components of your business and gives you a detailed understanding of the impact any disruption may have on your operations. FEMA offers questionnaire forms to help you get started.

Think about the core aspects that keep your business running and which areas, if disrupted, would cause revenue loss or harm to your brand reputation. The impact on your business depends on the disruptive event you experience. For example, a natural disaster that damages your storefront will affect your business differently than a pandemic that keeps customers at home. 

When performing your business impact analysis, ask yourself these questions:

  • Which key areas of your business are essential to your revenue stream?
  • What are the most critical functions of your business? What happens when these processes are disrupted?
  • Which members of your team are considered essential? What would happen if one or more of your team members were affected by the crisis and unable to work?

You must also consider the dependencies between these components. If there is damage to any of these core areas or the chain that links them together, how will it further impact your business? 

2. Determine your priorities and strategies for response and recovery

Readiness strategies and procedures are crucial to a basic business continuity plan. Once you've determined which critical components of your business will be affected and the resulting damage, outline your plan for recovery and the first steps to take immediately after an emergency.

First, create a timeline for your recovery phase. Depending on the setback you experience, you may need a different approach for each possible scenario. For example, a cyberattack might take days to bounce back from, while fire damage can take weeks or months before you can resume normal operations. Having a timeline in place with specific steps gives you a starting point.

a woman looking at business continuity plans

Next, write down detailed instructions and processes to follow. Cover the answers to these questions:

  • Who is responsible for each recovery step? If a key team member is unable to work, who will take their place?
  • If a core function of your business is offline, what needs to be done to fill the gap until operational status is restored?
  • What resources do you still have access to?

The strategies you create may be the lifeline that saves your business when the unexpected occurs, so take the time to map out a comprehensive plan.

3. Form teams and conduct trainings

Once you've documented your plan, share it online and compile it in a manual to keep onsite for your team to access anytime. Unless your business employs just a few people, create groups that are responsible for different emergency responses and recovery solutions. Perform drills and hold regular training sessions to go over the details of your business continuity plan with your employees, and remember to update the plan anytime your core components shift or change.

The road to recovery after a disaster or crisis may not be an easy one, but a business continuity plan gives you something to rely on when times feel uncertain. Taking the time to create a thorough plan with detailed instructions for employees better prepares your business for any unexpected events that come your way.

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