What Is a Business Continuity Plan Checklist?
In the event of a disaster, businesses need a plan to continue their operations. Ideally, this plan would be written up prior to the catastrophic event. A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) or Business Continuity Management (BCM) template is used by business continuity managers and IT teams to develop strategies for maintaining business continuity in the event of an unplanned interruption to services. These are emergencies such as extreme weather events, building evacuations, power outages, etc. The BCP form is used to identify operational areas, resources, and recovery strategies with a high impact on the business and the associated personnel.
A recent example of a disaster was the COVID-19 pandemic that saw countless small and privately owned businesses closed forever. Companies had to think on their feet. They came up with ideas as unprecedented as the pandemic. One that made the global economy come to a grinding, screeching halt in a matter of days. Entire retirement funds evaporated, people lost their jobs, and stores were shut down.
However, many businesses prevailed by capitalizing on their own wit, cunning, and resourcefulness. They implemented curbside pick-up along with other enterprising tactics to keep themselves afloat during the height of these trying circumstances.
It remains true that not all businesses are big enough to absorb the cost of hunkering down and waiting it out. And with no end to the pandemic on the horizon, store owners need to adapt their business strategies to change with the times.
After the amount of time, money, and effort you’ve invested in your company, it would be a shame to lose everything and start over from scratch, especially if you were already nearing the end of your career. In short, a good BCM is designed to keep the business alive in circumstances that would otherwise make it fail. Preserve your hard-earned money by being prepared with a business continuity plan. Try this free BCP sample template for information technology
The article briefly discusses:
What Are the Advantages of a BCP Checklist?
Having a checklist ready in case of emergency is always a good idea to guarantee the following:
- The company and its processes are still functioning, and the operation does not have to be completely shut down.
- Avoid expensive start-up times of the company, which can cost you a lot of money and also destroy the reputation of your company.
- In the event of a crisis that also affects your competitors, a good continuity plan will give you an immense competitive advantage.
What Are the Primary Aspects of a BCP Checklist?
But why does a business need a BCP?
As much as 50% of businesses fail within the first five years of opening. Why? There’s a myriad of factors, including lack of resources, poor marketing, management issues, disagreements between investors and owners, and failure to pivot—to name a few. But this risk of failure can be greatly mitigated by planning for every inevitably.
But what makes a BCP effective? It won’t do if it’s done incorrectly, rushed, or fails to take into account every and all contingencies that could lead to its eventual demise.
There are three key elements that should be taken into consideration while creating a business continuity plan, or a business disaster plan as it’s otherwise known:
- Availability: Plan in such a way that business has access to all vital applications regardless of failures. These could be found in the business processes, in the physical facilities, or in the IT hardware or software.
- Continuous operations: Ensure that the operations will continue running smoothly even during maintenance periods or operational malfunctions.
- Recovery scenario: Brainstorm a way to recover the destroyed data in the event of a disaster.
Business owners need to establish a plan of action to protect themselves against internal and external threats. To do this, a checklist should include these six essential elements:
- Company objectives: strategies used by the firm for continuous operations. This will outline a step-by-step procedure for every key role critical to company function.
- Organizational structure: skills, communications, employee responsibilities along with a list of key personnel. This will include a list of emergency contact information and emergency responder information.
- Data: anything related to company software.The main concern will be maintaining a pre-disaster productivity level without the aid of computer software.
- Processes: processes essential to run the business. There needs to be a hard copy of detailed short and long-term strategies in case IT operations are down along with emergency plans and procedures.
- Company systems: network and technology necessary to enable backups for applications and data. The IT team will need to outline its key functions and components and how they will handle any disruptions to their servers or networks.
- Facilities: extra sites to recover the destroyed ones. This will be the backup location that will store essential supplies.
Below, you’ll find a successful, ready-made example:
Scope and Objectives
Purpose of the business continuity plan including which IT functions are prioritized for recovery during an emergency.
This plan will prioritize the recovery of critical IT functions and equipment in the case of an unforeseen emergency.
Recovery Plan for Operations at Risk
Add systems/ IT systems which are at risk
IT equipment/ program
Destruction or damage to the servers
Description of function
Computer servers house all pertinent data to the company.
Rate the impact on business continuity
Critical High Medium Low
Description of impact
Without the use of the servers, the company risks the loss of data and customers.
Implement the use of backup servers and drop boxes. The backup server will be housed in a separate location, and the drop boxes will provide an offsite data backup and storage.
Additional IT equipment, backup programs, and alternate operating systems needed
- Backup server
- Drop boxes
- Cloud storage digital file management
Add BCP committee member
Name of representative
IT Business Continuity Manager
Description of responsibilities
- Designate critical personnel
- Reestablish connection to servers
- Organize the setup of backup servers
- Implement risk assessments
- Get IT department back up and running
- Create emergency budget
Name: John Smith
Phone Number: 255-855-1447
Address: 427 Redland Drive Spring Branch, TX, 78070
What is the Importance of a Business Continuity Plan?
Any interruption in your business operations equates to a loss of money, and to make matters worse, in the event of a disaster, you don’t just lose big revenues but also incur big expenses. Insurance can help but it’s not likely to cover all the costs. Plus, there’s the issue of losing customers to your competition.
All these are complex challenges that require a well-thought-out strategy to effectively address. That’s why a business continuity plan is a must if you want to be geared for growth — no matter what. Regardless if you’re a new startup or a Fortune 500 corporation, staying competitive and retaining your market share is essential. This won’t happen unless you’re able to bounce back effectively and immediately.
The reasons why this is important can be summarized in the following bullet points:
- A continuity plan identifies and addresses resiliency synchronization between business processes, applications, and IT infrastructure. Eventually, it helps to save the sum ranging from 100,000 to 1,000,000 dollars that a company would have to pay to repair the system failure.
- They can keep your business functioning, protect data, maintain the brand image, and retain customers. Being prepared can minimize downtime and attain sustainable improvements in business continuity, IT disaster recovery, corporate crisis management capabilities, and regulatory compliance.
- Without such a plan an organization, can suffer revenue loss and lose its customers. It serves as a guarantee of business strength while rapidly adapting and responding to risks and opportunities.
What Is Disaster Recovery?
Since this article focuses on delineating how a business continuity form is critical to keeping stores open and running during times of crisis, this section will be dedicated to defining how DRs differ from BCPs.
First, it will be helpful to contextualize a disaster as any event that causes a great deal of damage or loss of life. However, it isn’t necessarily limited to natural calamities but extends to man-made ones as well.
Some examples include:
- terrorist attacks
- equipment failures
- power outages
Or severe weather events such as:
- lightning strikes
Nowadays, businesses almost always have a digital component and, depending on the type of trade a business conducts, this could mean a disruption in those operations or obstacles of a more physical nature, like a closed road preventing customers from reaching the store. The level of severity will largely depend on the type of disaster and the business’s plan for handling them.
There are some overlaps between the two types of plans. The main difference is a business continuity plan is more proactive and a disaster recovery plan is more reactive. But the contrasts don’t end there.
- Focuses on an IT Infrastructure and Systems Resolution
DRs aim to rescue IT infrastructure and procedures after a disaster has taken place but a BCP endeavors to keep the business up and running during an unexpected crisis.
- Includes Additional Employee Safety Measures
A disaster recovery plan allocates more resources to funding additional training, buying extra emergency supplies, and creating safety procedure plans whereas a BCP focuses its energies on identifying problems and curating their solutions.
- Tries to Limit IT Operational Downtime
A BCP seeks to keep the company in operation while DRs work to restore the company to its former operational and productivity state. This would entail restoring digital data, switching to backup servers, and restoring computers and their corresponding software to pre-disaster functions.
- Narrow Focus on Step-By-Step Procedures
A DCR will examine and break down each specific problem relating to any potential disasters. In this way, disaster recovery has a narrower focus, where the latter of which, only plans for what to do in the immediate aftermath of a security breach. After the emergency plan has been set in motion with all personnel accounted for and safe, the DCR will come into effect and start working to restore business operations back to normal.
- Implement Both a BCP and a Disaster Recovery Plan
In order for a business to be entirely successful in the sudden case of an emergency or disaster, it’s best practice to implement both in tandem with each other. The failure rate of businesses that neglect to initiate either plan is staggering. Out of all the businesses that don’t incorporate a BCP, only 60% recover after a disaster. The statistics are similarly startling for businesses that didn’t employ a disaster recovery plan, seeing a whopping 93% failure rate after being improperly prepared to handle a crisis.
Slowly, businesses are starting to transition to paperless systems, capitalizing on the digital era and all the joys of modern technology. Of course, each type of record keeping has its pros and cons. Where paper documentation can be easily lost to water, fire, or just an unorganized filing system, digital documentation is open to cyber-attacks and power outages.
Any disaster affecting IT activities can result in hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in lost revenue and damage (depending on the size of the business), so it’s imperative that those risks are mitigated by a pre-prepared disaster recovery plan. Even with the associated digital era risks, as long as the necessary precautions are taken, businesses can reap the rewards of a computer-based operating system.
At the end of the day, it’s no competition. Analog documentation is better organized, more efficient, and all-around safer than traditional means of record keeping.
Using Modern Technology for the Business Continuity Plan Checklist
A paper-based template for the Business Continuity Plan is difficult for management to maintain and keep up-to-date. Lumiform, the powerful mobile app for digital forms, helps companies move to a paperless planning process. Create your own continuity of operations plan template, evaluate the accuracy of the recovery process, and update your plan as needed from your mobile device. With Lumiform, you can:
- Digitally create and customize a BCP example
- Forward tasks to key individuals and members of the BCP committee
- Instantly add photographic evidence to your controls
- If required, have everything confirmed with electronic signatures
- Send an updated plan to your team in a few easy steps
- Create reports automatically and save them centrally
To help you get started with paperless planning, we’ve put together the best templates for a sample business continuity plan that you can download and customize for free.
Try Lumiform for free