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The importance of having a business continuity plan

Business person stopping dominos from falling, signifying the importance of a business continuity plan.

When the world is chugging along as normal and business operations only have the usual risks to monitor, it can be easy to put aside business continuity planning. But, as we've all discovered in recent weeks, anything can happen at any time, and businesses must be ready to pivot operations quickly, efficiently and safely as and when needed. The quick global spread of COVID-19, colloquially known as coronavirus, has thrown the world into disarray. The markets are in a nosedive, governments are shutting down entire countries and most organizations are having to quickly embrace remote working to keep the lights on and keep clients serviced. Those who do not have the capability to support workers at home ' and that are not essential services such as healthcare or sanitation ' are currently going through a trial by fire, with operations stymied and revenue under threat. Businesses are rushing to set up work-from-home arrangements, or take out subscriptions for online meetings and cloud collaboration technology. Priorities are shifting dramatically as we enter uncharted territory. This lack of preparedness could well see many businesses going under ' but if those organizations had created a robust business continuity plan ahead of time, they would know exactly how to handle such a crisis and weather the storm.

What is a business continuity plan and why do you need one?

A business continuity plan, or BCP, refers to the process a company will take to prevent and recover from potential threats to the organization. It ensures personnel and assets are protected and able to function in the event of a disaster, and is generally part of overall risk management ' that is, best practice dictates that you consider your business continuity plan ahead of time, not when a crisis hits. Your business continuity plan considers what those risks may look like ' both physical threats such as fire or flood, and those threats that are harder to pin down, such as hacks and pandemics ' and then determines:

  • How those risks will impact operations
  • How you'll implement safeguards, procedures and policies to mitigate the risks
  • How you'll test procedures to ensure that they work
  • How you'll review the process to keep it up-to-date

It includes a summary of the most critical business processes and functions ' those aspects that, if they failed, your business would be unable to operate ' as well as internal and external communication strategies, clear instructions for accessing and restoring offsite recovery data, any potential temporary offices or locations, and a change log that summarizes any updates to the plan for version-control purposes. Without a business continuity plan, you risk your company and its people . Not only could the business fail, but you could also suffer financial loss, a tarnished reputation and lost productivity. A physical disaster could also impact your employees, potentially causing injury or death.

Ensure continued — and secure — access to systems

With COVID-19 playing havoc with how companies go about their day-to-day activities, the priority for organizations should be on building business resilience. This means being flexible enough to go with the flow while maintaining operations at as normal a level as possible, all while ensuring your employees can access the systems and processes they need to do their jobs. It also means keeping a close eye on matters of cybersecurity. Those companies that maintain on-premises systems have suddenly found themselves in a pickle, as workers are unable to come into the office with cities on lockdown. The question of how teams will access platforms is an essential part of business continuity planning, and something that smart risk managers had covered long before the pandemic hit. They had thought about how teams would access platforms, assessed what bandwidth they had available for that level of remote access, and had considered whether they needed a temporary increase in network capacity or licenses. The security question, though, doesn't just extend to moving to cloud-based operations; hackers and cyber threats will use any crisis to their advantage. Keep an eye out for phishing scams, DDoS attacks and malware being introduced by employees keen to learn the latest developments in the crisis and not closely examining the links they click on. Security postures should include a review of systems you have in place to stop phishing campaigns and other inbound threat vectors before they hit employees' inboxes, writes Jason Albuquerque for InformationWeek .

Creating a business continuity plan

While every organization's business continuity plan will be different, there are some common steps that companies should follow to develop a solid continuity plan. They include:

  • Undertaking a business impact analysis to identify functions and related resources that are time-sensitive
  • Identifying and implementing steps to recover critical business functions
  • Creating a continuity team that will be tasked with devising a plan to manage the disruption
  • Training and testing the continuity team, and ensuring they regularly go over the plan and strategies to mitigate risk and ensure they are kept up-to-date

By considering these things in advance, organizations can help to ensure business continuity when things get tough, protecting the business, its reputation, its people and its customers.

The importance of technology to business continuity for legal operations

Of course, the march toward cloud-based technology to run essential business systems and processes makes business continuity planning a little easier. Once upon a time, you had to be in the office and on the network to access things like entity management software; today, there is a plethora of cloud-based options for all aspects of legal operations, compliance, governance and risk management work. Best-in-class providers of these systems are supporting their clients through the current COVID-19/coronavirus crisis, helping them to make sense of the craziness by providing online support, guidance and tech triage. More than just a software provider, these organizations become an essential partner in times of crisis. Diligent is one such company, acting as a partner to more than half of the Fortune 1000. Through its cloud-based legal technology platforms, Diligent enables proactive governance to help mitigate the risks of modern business. We believe every business should have the necessary business continuity planning and management strategies, plans and procedures in place, fully tested at regular intervals, to drive the assurance that when disaster strikes, they'll be ready. The cost and impact of not being prepared is usually far greater than that of being proactive. Diligent works to enable business continuity planning by ensuring ongoing access to essential documents, contracts and entity data through:

  • Diligent Entities , which helps organizations to centralize, manage and effectively structure their corporate record to improve entity governance and improve decision-making
  • Diligent Boards , which empowers boards and executives with the tools, insights and analytics to securely access board materials, track company performance and gather real-time information
  • Diligent Assurance , which helps organizations to confidently create, manage and report on the obligations relevant to their business, and always be audit-ready.

Get in touch and request a demo to see how Diligent's suite of cloud-based governance and compliance software can help drive your business continuity planning and ensure your organization can continue to operate, no matter what gets thrown your way.

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Business Continuity Planning: Ensuring the Resilience of Your Organization

Let’s explore the intricacies of business continuity planning, from understanding its importance to implementing a robust strategy that safeguards your enterprise.

Published by Orgvue   November 20, 2023

Home > Resources > article > Business Continuity Planning: Ensuring the Resilience of Your Organization

In an unpredictable world, the ability to sustain your business’s essential functions and operations, even in the face of disruptions, is paramount.

why is it important for organizations to have a business continuity plan in place

Business continuity planning is the framework that ensures your organization can weather storms, both literal and metaphorical.

What is Business Continuity Planning?

At its core, business continuity planning is the process of developing a proactive strategy to ensure an organization’s critical functions and operations can continue in the face of unforeseen disruptions.

It encompasses a range of activities, from risk assessment to the creation of detailed recovery plans, with the ultimate goal of minimizing downtime and ensuring the organization’s resilience.

The Importance of Business Continuity Planning

The importance of being prepared for various external and internal factors cannot be overstated. While many businesses have a standard business plan, not all of them consider the potential disruptions caused by natural calamities, economic downturns, or other unexpected events. Business continuity planning is the key to ensuring a company’s sustained operation, regardless of the challenges it may face.

Business continuity planning goes beyond the traditional business plan. While a business plan outlines goals and strategies for growth, a continuity plan focuses on how the organization will continue to function in the face of adversity. It involves identifying potential risks and developing strategies to mitigate and recover from them. Whether it’s a natural disaster, a cyberattack or an economic recession, having a well-thought-out strategic plan is essential for business survival.

One of the most significant threats to businesses is an economic downturn, such as a recession. During these challenging times, consumer spending often decreases, and businesses may face financial instability. A recession can have a ripple effect on companies of all sizes, causing decreased revenue, layoffs, and even closures.

For a detailed look at the impact of recessions on businesses, read how to prepare for a recession , which delves into strategies for navigating these challenging economic conditions.

Business strategy planning is not just about surviving during tough times; it’s also crucial for capitalizing on periods of growth. When businesses experience an upturn, they often need to scale rapidly to meet increased demand. Having a continuity plan in place allows for a smoother transition during periods of growth, ensuring that the infrastructure, resources and workforce can adapt effectively.

The financial consequences of not having a business continuity plan can be devastating. Without a plan in place, businesses are more vulnerable to unexpected disruptions, which can result in significant financial losses. These losses may come from increased downtime, lost revenue, legal liabilities, reputational damage and the costs associated with recovery efforts.

Considerations for Business Continuity Planning

Creating a robust business continuity plan is a complex task that involves a multitude of factors. Among these considerations, three key aspects stand out: cultural differences, limited resources and alignment with business objectives. A successful business strategy plan takes these factors into account to ensure that an organization can effectively respond to disruptions while maintaining its core values and strategic direction.

1. Cultural Differences

Cultural diversity is a significant consideration in business strategy planning, especially for multinational companies or organizations with a diverse workforce. Cultural differences can influence how employees perceive and respond to crises. When developing a business continuity plan, it is important to consider the following aspects:

  • Communication Styles : Different cultures have varying communication norms and hierarchies. Understanding how employees from various cultural backgrounds communicate during a crisis can help in crafting effective crisis communication strategies.
  • Decision-Making Processes : Some cultures prioritize consensus-driven decision-making, while others lean towards hierarchical authority. A business continuity plan should acknowledge these differences and provide flexibility in decision-making approaches during disruptions.
  • Crisis Response Expectations : Cultural expectations can shape how employees expect the organization to respond to a crisis. Your business strategy plan should be sensitive to these expectations and ensure that response strategies align with cultural norms.

2. Limited Resources

For many businesses, resource constraints are a reality. When developing a business continuity plan, it’s crucial to consider the organization’s resource limitations, such as budget, personnel and technology. Here are some key considerations:

  • Resource Allocation : Prioritize critical functions and allocate resources accordingly. Not all business processes are equally important, and a business continuity plan should identify and protect the most essential ones first.
  • Efficiency and Scalability : Develop strategies that focus on efficiency and scalability. Efficient resource use is critical, and a business strategy plan should outline how to adapt to changing resource constraints during a crisis.
  • Collaboration : Collaboration with external partners, such as suppliers, can be a resource-saving strategy. Establishing relationships with partners who can provide support during disruptions is a valuable aspect.

3. Business Objectives

A business continuity plan should align with the broader business objectives to ensure that it doesn’t hinder growth or innovation. Consider the following aspects:

  • Market Expansion:  If the organization’s objective is to expand into new markets, the business strategy plan should accommodate this goal. It should address the challenges and opportunities that come with market expansion, including regulatory compliance and logistical considerations.
  • Relocation or Migration : If there are plans to relocate or migrate operations, the business continuity plan should include strategies for a seamless transition. This may involve considerations such as data migration, employee relocation and continuity of customer service.
  • Competitive Landscape : Changes in the competitive landscape, such as the emergence of new competitors, can impact the organization’s continuity. The business strategy plan should be flexible enough to adapt to shifts in the competitive environment.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to adapt rapidly, with remote work becoming the norm for many, reshaping entire industries like healthcare and e-commerce.
  • The global recession of 2008 had long-lasting effects on financial institutions and prompted regulatory changes that influenced business operations.
  • The rise of the internet transformed countless businesses, from retail to media, and required adaptation to online platforms.
  • Looking ahead, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence have the potential to disrupt industries in unprecedented ways, with automation and data-driven decision-making reshaping the future of work. These events emphasize the critical importance of adaptable and comprehensive business continuity planning to navigate the unpredictable landscape of our ever-evolving world.

Developing a Strategic Business Plan

A well structured business plan serves as a roadmap for your organization, guiding actions and decisions while enabling effective response to a dynamic business environment.

  • Conduct a comprehensive assessment of the current state of the business.
  • Review financial statements, market positioning and operational performance.
  • Identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
  • Evaluate the company’s internal resources and capabilities.
  • Analyze micro-environment factors such as competitors, customers, suppliers and regulatory changes.
  • Examine macro-environment factors like economic trends, technological advancements and political factors.
  • Use tools like PESTEL analysis and Porter’s Five Forces to assess the external business environment.
  • Clearly define short-term and long-term business objectives.
  • Make objectives specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART).
  • Align objectives with the company’s mission and vision.
  • Identify key operational processes that drive business success.
  • Evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of these processes.
  • Prioritize improvements in critical areas to align with strategic objectives.
  • Plan for potential risks and uncertainties that could impact the business.
  • Create contingency and crisis management strategies.
  • Establish a risk management framework to mitigate and respond to unforeseen events.
  • Implement key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress.
  • Regularly review and revise the business plan based on changing market conditions.
  • Adapt to emerging opportunities and challenges.
  • Ensure that the strategic plan is communicated effectively throughout the organization.
  • Secure buy-in and commitment from employees at all levels.
  • Ensure that all team members understand their roles in achieving the plan’s objectives.
  • Allocate resources, including finances and manpower, in alignment with the strategic priorities.
  • Develop a budget that reflects the financial requirements of the plan.
  • Monitor spending and adjust budgets as needed.
  • Develop a timeline and action plan for the execution of the strategic initiatives.
  • Assign responsibilities to specific teams or individuals.
  • Regularly review progress and make adjustments to stay on track.
  • Periodically evaluate the effectiveness of the strategic plan.
  • Solicit feedback from employees, customers and stakeholders.
  • Use feedback to make continuous improvements and refine the plan.
  • Establish a system for measuring and reporting progress.
  • Create dashboards or reports to communicate key metrics to stakeholders.
  • Ensure that performance data aligns with the defined objectives.
  • Incorporate sustainability and responsible growth practices into the plan.
  • Address social and environmental impacts as part of corporate responsibility.
  • Seek opportunities for sustainable growth and innovation.
  • Develop scenarios that explore alternative future situations.
  • Consider various outcomes and their implications on the business.
  • Prepare for different scenarios to enhance adaptability.
  • Leverage technology for data analytics, automation, and efficiency.
  • Stay updated on emerging technologies that can support the strategic plan.
  • Integrate technology solutions to enhance business processes.

Implementing a Business Continuity Plan

why is it important for organizations to have a business continuity plan in place

 Importance of Training and Awareness:

  • Awareness:  Create awareness about the business continuity plan across the organization to foster a culture of preparedness. This includes educating employees on the potential risks and the importance of the plan.

 Consistent Review of the Plan:

  • Conduct post-incident reviews to assess the BCP’s performance after a real event and make necessary adjustments.

 Address Cultural and Technological Issues:

  • Technological Challenges: Recognize and mitigate technological hurdles that can hinder the plan’s execution, such as infrastructure limitations or cybersecurity threats. Ensure that IT systems are resilient and can support the plan.

 Software Integration:

  • Organizational design software like Orgvue can assist in visualizing and optimizing the organizational structure, enabling efficient allocation of resources and responsibilities during a disruption.

Business continuity planning is not merely a precaution but a strategic imperative for any organization. It provides a structured approach to safeguarding business operations in the face of unforeseen disruptions, thereby minimizing downtime and potential financial losses.

By fostering a culture of preparedness, training employees, regularly reviewing and adapting the plan, addressing cultural and technological issues, and leveraging software solutions like Orgvue for organizational design, businesses can ensure their resilience and adaptability in an ever-changing landscape.

For businesses with specific 1-5 year plans, the integration of business strategy planning is paramount. It aligns seamlessly with forward-looking strategies by fortifying the organization’s ability to execute those plans in the face of unexpected events.

By weaving business continuity considerations into your strategic framework, you not only protect your investments but also demonstrate your commitment to long-term success, customer trust and stakeholder confidence. The benefits of such foresight extend far beyond mitigating risk; they empower your business to thrive in an increasingly unpredictable world. Therefore, it is recommended that businesses of all sizes prioritize and integrate business continuity planning as an integral part of their strategic vision and ongoing operations.

Business Continuity Plan FAQs

● where does business continuity planning belong in an organization.

Depending on the organization’s culture, the department your business continuity plan falls under varies. IT is usually one of the most vital components of any business strategy plan, in which case it could belong under the IT department. Or, if financial impacts are your organization’s main concern, the finance department may need to run the plan.

● Who Is Responsible For the Business Continuity Plan?

The business continuity plan usually falls under the responsibility of a dedicated role or department, often led by a Business Continuity Manager, who reports to senior leadership. This individual or team is responsible for creating, implementing, and regularly updating the plan to ensure the organization’s resilience in the face of disruptions.

● Is Business Continuity Planning a Legal Requirement?

It is not always a legal requirement, but certain industries and jurisdictions may have regulations or standards that mandate organizations to have such plans in place to ensure operational resilience and preparedness for emergencies.

● What Role Can Business Continuity Planning Play In Recovering From an Incident?

It plays a crucial role in helping organizations recover from incidents by providing a structured framework to assess, respond to and mitigate the impact of disruptions, minimizing downtime and financial losses. It outlines clear procedures and responsibilities, ensuring that essential operations can resume swiftly and efficiently, thus safeguarding the organization’s reputation and maintaining stakeholder trust.

● When Should a Business Continuity Plan Be Activated?

A business continuity plan should be activated as a preventative measure in the event a disruptive incident occurs. Triggers may include natural disasters, cyberattacks, supply chain disruptions or any event that threatens the continuity of critical business functions.

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5 reasons why business continuity management is important

You never need a business continuity plan until you do. Here are 5 reasons you should start yours today.

Read time: 6 minutes

...updated 12/12/2023...

Organizations often underestimate the importance of a business continuity plan. No one ever notices its absence – until disaster strikes. By then, it’s too late.

Any unplanned interruption of normal business processes can create immense hurdles and costly setbacks. Operations suffer. Revenue may suffer even more. 

Unplanned interruptions take many forms. It can be something as simple as a power outage. It could be a major hurricane. Ultimately, a disaster can be anything that disrupts normal business operations. Regardless of the cause, unplanned means unexpected.

With a business continuity plan in place, you position yourself to minimize the impact and damage of an unexpected event. In this article, we will discuss:

What constitutes business continuity planning and the difference between it and disaster recovery .

The top 5 reasons your organization needs a business continuity plan.

The importance of business continuity planning beyond simply restoring operations.

How to get started building a business continuity plan.

planning meeting

What is business continuity planning?

A business continuity plan gives an organization the ability to maintain essential processes before, during, and after a disaster.

Business continuity differs from disaster recovery in its holistic approach to the business.  Business continuity reflects a business-wide implementation plan to ensure the continuation of critical business functions should a disruptive event occur. Disaster recovery “recovers” an organization’s hardware, applications, and data after a technology disruption.

Learn more about Business continuity and disaster recovery solutions and services

disaster recovery planning

5 Reasons your organization needs a business continuity plan

While it takes time and effort to build and test a business continuity plan, you’ll find it well worth it should a disaster strike.

Here are 5 of the main reasons you need a business continuity plan:

Reason #1: Disaster recovery

As noted in the previous section, disaster recovery plays a significant role in the restoration of business operations.

Disasters happen. Their unexpected nature is what makes them so devastating. Being prepared may not prevent the disaster, but it does mitigate the impact on your business.

Research states that 40 percent of small businesses never recover from a disaster.¹ Larger organizations take major hits.

Often when we think of disasters, we think of major events like earthquakes, floods, and natural disasters. These, however, aren’t the only causes of downtime. Data deletion due to human error, poor security habits of users, and incompetent employees or accidents also rank among the prime reasons for IT downtime.

data center backup

Reason #2: Data shows backups are not enough

Most companies deploy some form of data backup. Having data backed up does you no good if you cannot access it, such as could occur in a power outage or need to leave an office site even on a temporary basis. 

Accessing data in the event of a disaster can prove a problem. After all, having a backup is different from accessing it.

It’s a question business continuity planning asks: How will you access that data in the event of an outage? 

For example, the average enterprise backup reaches over a petabyte or more. This pushes conventional storage to its limits. Even several terabytes of data backed up by a small to mid-sized business can strain capacity and bandwidth. And if you don’t have a data center or hardware prepared to handle this volume of data, it does you no good.

By deploying business continuity and disaster recovery solutions leveraging cloud technologies and virtual servers, organizations can run critical business applications from backup instances on virtual servers in the cloud. This approach enables you to effectively “flip a switch” and can keep your downtime to a minimum.

business man and woman meeting

Reason #3: Insurance does not protect your data

Cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated and successful every year. 

A 2018 study of companies that were attacked found that 68% of breaches took months or longer to discover.² And insurance doesn’t restore data due to data center, server, or backup loss, or even lost access to any of these. 

Insurance isn’t enough to cover all the damages of a disaster. Yes, it can cover the costs of repairs, but in terms of loss of revenue and business prospects due to downtime, it has little effect.

happy business woman

Reason #4: Competitive edge

You have a big advantage over your competitors if you can restore normal operations while they are still trying to figure it out. Getting your network back up and running fast, restoring access to your business data and documents, and reconnecting your employees to communicate with each other and support your customers allows for your organization to stand-out as a leader and one that can be trusted and relied upon.

working remotely

Reason #5: Business must go on

Keeping a business going is essential. Taking a very simple view, if you lose the ability to buy and sell, your business – for all practical purposes – ceases to function.

Business continuity makes this possible by establishing actions that must be taken to ensure operations remain active, no matter the nature of the disaster. For example:

If the power goes out without certainty of when it will be restored, can you switch to a server or network located in a functioning data center?

If you experience a server failure, do you have a backup server (or virtual server) ready to go?

If your office location becomes inaccessible for any reason, can your employees work remotely?

When building your business continuity plan, you consider all the possible disruptions you might encounter. Loss of power or an office location is one of the biggest reasons offsite and redundant backup remains one of the most important aspects of IT reliability.

Your business simply cannot afford downtime. A solid business continuity plan can mean the difference between being back up and running in a matter of minutes versus days or even weeks.

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The importance of a business continuity plan

A business continuity plan positions your organization to survive serious disruption. It eliminates confusion common to every disaster, providing a clear blueprint for what everyone should do.

More importantly, your business continuity plan supports:

Communication between employees and customers

Workflow operations essential to business activity

Customer service response, especially if you are a service provider

Business security, keeping your data and information secured wherever you and your team find yourself working

The flow of information and documents

Beyond business operations, your business continuity plan helps people. By keeping operations going, you are better positioned to keep your employees working, protecting the jobs that support them and their families. You also continue to meet the needs of your customers, impacting their lives, and if you are in a B2B business, the lives of their customers.

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We are here to help

We have helped many businesses develop and implement business continuity plans.

In addition to consulting services like these, our IT services can remove the burden of monitoring and managing your data infrastructure to help give you increased reliability, reduced risk and a comprehensive business continuity plan in the event of a disaster.

Our IT services include: 

Server & network management

Device & desktop management

Managed cybersecurity services

End user communication services

Managed cloud services

Data center services

Disaster recovery and backup

IT project work

Remote IT support

We know that your business is unique and has its own needs. In every engagement, you can be confident that we’ll work together to create a business continuity plan and if needed, a technology infrastructure built specifically for you.

Frequently asked questions.

A business continuity plan is crucial for ensuring an organization's resilience during unexpected disruptions, such as natural disasters, cyberattacks, or economic downturns. It helps maintain essential functions and minimizes downtime.

A business continuity plan typically includes risk assessments, recovery strategies, communication plans, and testing. These components help businesses prepare for and respond to emergencies effectively, minimizing the impact on operations.

To assess your needs, identify critical functions, potential risks, and the resources required for recovery. A tailored plan should address your organization's unique vulnerabilities and objectives.

While a business continuity plan can significantly improve an organization's chances of survival, it does not guarantee it. Common challenges include resource constraints, resistance to change, and the need for regular updates to stay effective.

A business continuity plan should be reviewed at least annually or after significant changes to business operations, technology, or personnel. External events, such as major industry shifts, emerging threats, or regulatory updates, can also trigger revisions to ensure the plan remains relevant and effective.

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Why You Need a Reliable Business Continuity Plan

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You’ve likely heard that nearly half of all new businesses fail . According to the Small Business Association (SBA), 50 percent of businesses fail during the first five years. Over a 10-year span, the percentage increases to 66. But what can be done to avoid this? A business continuity plan. While it’s difficult to determine the percentage of businesses that have a continuity plan in place, one thing is certain: it’s better to have one than not.

A business continuity plan is a process by which businesses can prepare themselves to weather the potential threats that are always on the horizon, keeping their project plans, schedules and processes intact. Before we dive into what is a business continuity plan and how to write one, let’s quickly define business continuity planning.

What Is Business Continuity Planning?

Business continuity planning (BCP) is the process by which companies can overcome potential threats that can affect their ability to continue. Business continuity planning consists in creating recovery strategies, improving business processes and defining a recovery time objective.

ProjectManager is an online project and work management software that allows you to track time, costs, tasks and budgets. Our real-time dashboard gives you a high-level view of six metrics, a great tool to help you manage the implementation of your business continuity plan. Get started for free.

ProjectManager's dashboard view

What Is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a plan to assist a business when and if there’s an emergency or potential threat to its solvency. These can be any number of risks including natural disasters such as fires and earthquakes to man-made risks such as cyberattacks. All of these are outside of normal business operating conditions.

In other words, business continuity is exactly as it sounds: maintaining business functions or responding quickly to resuming them if there’s a major disruption to that business. A business continuity plan is not the same as a business plan, which contains the executive summary , company info, market research and strategies, etc.

Why Do I Need a Business Continuity Plan?

The importance of a business continuity plan should be clear, but some business owners might be overworked by simply running operations and ensuring solvency. The problem with such thinking is that it’s reactive. You’re never in a position to profit from good business and grow your company as you’re always chasing fires and putting them out.

Remaining competitive is key for business success, and to lose operational capacity due to an act of nature removes you from the marketplace either temporarily or forever. It’s not a risk that can be ignored, which is why there’s a strong need to create a plan of action.

Key Elements of a Business Continuity Plan

A business continuity plan varies from one company to another as they’re tailored to the needs of a particular business. However, there are basic elements that should always be included. Here are the five most commonly used elements of a business continuity plan.

Critical Business Areas & Processes

The first step in business continuity planning (BCP) is to analyze your business operations and identify the business units, business areas and business processes that are important to your company. You’ll need to identify which of those require improvements and which can be cut from your continuity plan.

Business Data

Once you’ve identified the business areas and processes that’ll be part of your BCP, you’ll need to look for all of the business data you can find. Data analysis is the only way to accurately understand what aspects of your business are successful and which aren’t.

Risk Assessment

Risk assessment is a critical element of a business continuity plan. To help your business continue to grow, you need to identify every potential risk that could stop you. It’s suggested that you use a risk register to list the potential risks along with risk mitigation strategies to implement if needed.

Business Continuity Impact Analysis

A business continuity impact analysis is done to determine the consequences of a sudden loss of business operations, units or processes. By conducting a business continuity impact analysis, you can determine the business impact in terms of costs, time frames and affected dependencies.

Recovery Time Objective

A business continuity plan is meant to be an actionable document that helps companies overcome difficulties and natural disasters. The recovery time objective is an estimated point in time by which you believe your business continuity planning strategies will take effect.

How to Create a Reliable Business Continuity Plan in 7 Steps

When working on a business continuity plan, there are several steps that must be taken to ensure that it’s reliable, all of which are outlined below.

1. Analyze Organizational Threats

You can’t prepare for what you don’t know. There will always be aspects of potential risks that are beyond your control so it’s important to do the due diligence. Make a comprehensive list of what threats are the most likely to impact your business. Then, dig deeper into each threat to see how it would impact your operations.

By analyzing your organizational threats, you’ll have an idea of what you need to do in order to respond. Consider using a risk register template to keep track of each risk.

2. List Primary Tasks to Stay Operational

Once you know what might happen, you have to devise a strategy to respond so the business can keep its doors open. That means prioritizing your list to include only top-level items that address the livelihood of the business.

Other points on your list are important, of course, but you can’t do everything, especially in an emergency. Pick what must be done and complete the rest once the dust has settled.

3. Safeguard Contacts

What if your facility is damaged or what if your IT is compromised? What if you lose contact information for executives and managers who are crucial to the smooth operation of the business? This is why it’s important to keep a list of management and their contacts in a safe or in multiple places so they’re easily accessible.

In case of an emergency, you need to reach the important stakeholders in your organization immediately. There’s no time to search for this information; it needs to always be at your fingertips.

4. Direct Personnel

Depending on the situation, there might not be anyone in a position of authority to explain what personnel should do and where they should go. This is a recipe for chaos, which only adds another problem on top of an already problematic situation.

That’s why it’s important to have a plan for where personnel needs to be if and when a disaster happens. You want to keep them out of harm’s way and place them in a position to carry on with operations if that’s a possibility.

5. Backup Data

Although this is second nature for many, it still bears repeating. Information is one of the most important assets for many businesses, and it must be protected from a potential breach or compromise of IT.

That data must be backed up in more than one place and there should be backups both on-site and off-site in case there is a localized catastrophic event. Online project management software offers you cloud storage for your data, creating an additional safeguard.

6. Collaborate Across the Organization

Businesses are collections of many different departments and the coordination of these elements is critical in getting operations up and running or running as normal. This is why a collaboration plan that includes all facets of the business must be in place to ensure these different departments are working together, not against one another.

7. Get Buy-In on Your BCP

For any business continuity plan to work, it must be distributed to everyone in the business so they understand their part in the process is. But even more than that, every person, from the top to the bottom of the business, must buy into the plan.

Anyone who doesn’t buy into your business continuity plan is a weak link that will break the chain you created to protect the business during this challenging period.

Creating a business continuity plan is like creating any plan. You need to have the tools to plan one, share it and then track it to make sure it’s progressing as planned. That requires robust project management software with the scheduling features you need to facilitate the process. ProjectManager is a cloud-based project management tool that lets you manage and control even major changes to keep your business operational. See how it can help your business by taking this free 30-day trial.

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why is it important for organizations to have a business continuity plan in place

Don’t underestimate the importance of a business continuity plan

Here’s how to protect your people, practices, and technology.

Jacob Shepard

Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Enterprise

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When disruption is unacceptable, business continuity is critical. Threats such as cyberattacks and natural phenomena can strike without warning, and business continuity is all about maintaining (or quickly resuming) business functions across all business lines – from HR and IT to marketing and sales – when the unexpected comes to pass. A comprehensive business continuity plan should be embedded as part of your organizational strategy; without it, you run a high risk of negatively impacting your productivity, reputation, revenue, and more. However, it is key to recognize that there’s more nuance to business continuity than you might think – read on for a brief overview and a deeper dive into this critical strategy.

Preparing for a crisis

Based on findings from a recent survey, PWC recommends three ways companies can better prepare for a crisis. – Design a strategic crisis response plan to mobilize swiftly, stabilize business operations and respond effectively to the shockwaves of disruption. – Break down silos – creating an integrated program is key to delivering a successful crisis response and to building resilience during everyday practices. – Prioritize and build organizational resilience into the fabric of your organization.

Business continuity is more than just disaster recovery

When people think of business continuity, they typically think of disaster recovery and traditional IT service outages. While IT infrastructure and operations are important components, you also need to ensure that your business continuity plan encompasses your people and practices. Many incidents outside of your technology can create the need for a business continuity plan, including lack of access to physical workspace, reputational crisis, or loss of key company individuals. To be able to appropriately respond to a wide range of issues, organizations should be set up in a way that enables its people to make impactful decisions without being hindered by bureaucracy – not to mention having strong practices in place.

why is it important for organizations to have a business continuity plan in place

Case in point

We can look to the COVID-19 pandemic as a recent example of the urgent need for a comprehensive business continuity plan. Throughout the pandemic, business continuity planning has been critical – and it had nothing to do with the traditional IT outage. Organizations had to act quickly in order to continue business as usual and deliver the quality service their customers had come to expect. Disruption (in one form or another) was inevitable as teams scrambled to shift their approach to work and maintain the status quo. As teams continue to adapt in these unprecedented times, remote work has risen drastically, requiring businesses to implement new practices, rely more on agile methodologies, and assess their tooling to get work done. Click below to learn IT best practices that Atlassian implemented for a remote workforce

But what about my technology?

Atlassian Cloud Enterprise: What it is & why we made it

Atlassian Cloud Enterprise: What it is & why we made it

While it’s key to recognize and protect your organization from the variety of factors that could lead to disruption and crisis, the topic of technology – outages, downtime, and loss of data – seems to occupy the majority of our mental real estate. Your tools are critical to your success, and failure to access them and the data they store can spell crisis. Choosing software that can safeguard your company is a no-brainer.

Atlassian cloud products remove a large piece of responsibility, and headache, from your business continuity plan. Leveraging Atlassian cloud opens up the time and freedom for your organization to focus on other practices and organizational needs. Atlassian cloud maintains the highest standards of reliability, with a guaranteed 99.95 percent uptime SLA and built-in business continuity and disaster recovery frameworks.

For organizations that need to maintain control via a self-managed environment, Disaster recovery for Data Center products ensures availability in the event that your primary instance becomes unavailable.

Other benefits of Atlassian cloud products and the virtualization of your software help mitigate future possible disruptions. When you don’t have to worry about physical infrastructure, that’s one less treason to panic over the possibility of physical destruction (think fire, flood, or earthquake) or the inability to get to a physical location for service (whether that’s due to damaged infrastructure or a pandemic).

We know that by choosing Atlassian products, you’re counting on us to assist in your business continuity plan holistically. Organizations run mission-critical projects and operations on Atlassian products, and we’re utterly devoted to delivering products, applications, and networks that are stable and secure at scale.

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  • Business Continuity Plan Basics
  • Understanding BCPs
  • Benefits of BCPs
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  • 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.

why is it important for organizations to have a business continuity plan in place

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.

why is it important for organizations to have a business continuity plan in place

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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.

why is it important for organizations to have a business continuity plan in place

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!

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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

Type: Reputation

Do you have a plan in place to manage your reputation, and do you know the biggest risks for negative publicity in your space? The example plan above outlines the steps for handling a media or reputation crisis.

Once you create a business continuity plan, your work isn't over. Continue to iterate on the plan and identify new risks that become possible over time and/or with increased experience.

Business continuity planning isn't a one-time feat. Your plans need to be constantly reassessed if you want to adequately prepare for every situation. Consider adopting a business continuity management team to oversee your continuity plans and keep them up-to-date.

Here are examples of reputation issues that can affect business continuity:

  • Negative publicity
  • Company layoffs
  • Negative reviews

Create a Business Continuity Plan Before Disaster Strikes

The more time you put into your business continuity plan, the better it's going to be. The more often you test, the stronger your plan will be, as you'll be able to quickly identify problem areas and correct them before you're forced to deal with them during a crisis.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in March 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Businesses need a plan to get back on track when a disaster interrupts daily operations. Contingency plans, also known as “business continuity plans,” “emergency response plans” and “disaster recovery plans” help organizations recover after a disruption.  

Whether they’re preparing for a global outbreak of a deadly virus, crisis management around a data breach or the loss of an important client, contingency plans help organizations bounce back after a negative event.

Companies create many kinds of recovery strategies for everything, from the merger of key competitors to the insolvency of the bank that processes its employee payroll. In India, the government was busy designing a contingency plan as a drier-than-expected monsoon season approached.¹ Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, a large bank was preparing a plan b in case a host of new sanctions were levied as the result of a recent geopolitical development.²

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Here are five steps companies use to create effective business contingency plans.

The contingency planning process begins with a risk assessment to gauge the potential impact of each risk. Typically, business leaders and employees conduct risk analysis.

Team members begin with a brainstorming session where they discuss potential risks, courses of action and the company’s overall preparedness. During this stage, it’s important to be clear about the scope of the project and invite all relevant stakeholders to give input. Companies don’t need to create a risk management plan for every threat they face, just the ones deemed highly likely and with the potential to interrupt business operations.

Effective business impact analysis (BIA) is critical to understanding different business functions and how they will react to unexpected events. For example, while a shortage in micro-processors might be devastating to a part of a business that deals with the manufacture of gaming consoles, it likely has little to no impact on the same company’s HR department.

To assess the urgency of creating an action plan for this specific threat, the company would need to know how much of its revenue was being generated from the part of the business threatened by the microprocessor shortage. If gaming consoles are a high percentage of their revenue, they will put a strong plan in place soon.

A well-developed BIA helps stakeholders assess risk and better understand which parts of their business are most critical to daily operations.

After identifying the risks their company faces, determining the likelihood and severity of each risk and conducting a BIA, business leaders can follow a simple, three-step process to build their backup plan.

Identify the triggers that set their plan into action: For example, if a hurricane is approaching, at what point does the approaching storm trigger the contingency plan? When it’s 50 miles away or a 100? They must make clear decisions so the teams they put in charge of execution know when to start their work.

Design an appropriate response: The threat the business prepared for arrives. Teams must know exactly what’s expected of them so the company can recover quickly. Compile clear, accessible instructions, protocols that are easy to follow and a way for everyone to communicate with each other.

Delegate responsibility clearly and fairly: Like any other initiative, contingency planning requires effective project management to succeed. In the case of an existential threat such as a natural disaster, everyone involved in helping the company recover must know their role and be properly trained to perform it.

For example, in the case of a fire, it wouldn’t be fair to expect employees untrained in firefighting to pick up a hose. However, with the right training, they might conduct headcounts or go floor-to-floor to ensure that other employees have evacuated.

One way to improve workflow among teams when designing a plan is to create a RACI chart . RACI stands for responsible, accountable, consulted and informed and is a widely used process to help teams and individuals delegate responsibility and react to crises in real time.

While it can be hard to justify the importance of putting financial resources into something that might never happen, these past few years have taught us the value of good contingency planning. Think of all the supply chain problems, critical shortages of personal protective equipment and financial havoc wreaked by the pandemic. What would have been different if organizations had had effective contingency plans in place?

Cost and uncertainty are significant barriers when convincing business leaders of the importance of making an investment in contingency planning. Since all costs for contingency plans are estimated—there’s no way of knowing precisely how events will disrupt a business—decision-makers are understandably hesitant.

Different industries have different ways of approaching this problem. In the construction industry, it’s common to set aside 10% of the overall budget of a project for contingencies. Other industries use different methods.

One popular method estimates risks according to a percentage of how likely they are to occur. By this method, if there’s a 25% risk of an event occurring that will result in USD 200,000 in recovery costs, the company must set aside 25%—or USD 50,000—to be in compliance with their contingency plan.

Markets and industries are constantly shifting, so the reality that a contingency plan faces when it is triggered might be different than the one it was created for. For example, after the 9/11 terror attacks, many of the contingency plans that the US government had in place were suddenly irrelevant because they had been prepared decades before.

To avoid a similar disconnect between plans and threats, businesses need to constantly test and reassess the plans they’ve made. For example, IBM’s guidelines mandate that plans should be tested at least once annually and improved upon as necessary.³ If new risks are discovered and their severity and likelihood is deemed high enough, the old plans might be scrapped altogether.

When businesses are hit with an unexpected disruption, a strong contingency plan gives much-needed structure to the recovery process. Disruptive events cause chaos and decision-makers and employees are often left scrambling to understand what is happening and how best to respond to it. Having a strong plan to turn to can help restore confidence and show the way forward.

Here are a few benefits business leaders who create strong contingency plans can expect:

Businesses that create strong plans recover faster from a disruptive event than businesses that don’t. When a negative event occurs, the faster the business recovers and gets back to business-as-usual, the lower the risk to the company, its customers and its employees.

A good contingency plan minimizes the damage to a company—both reputational and financial. For example, while a data breach will undoubtedly damage a bank’s reputation, as well as its bottom line, how the bank responds will play a critical role in whether its customers decide to continue doing business with it.

Many organizations use a strong contingency plan to show employees and customers that they take preparation seriously. By planning for a wide range of potentially damaging events, business leaders can show investors, customers and workers that they’ve taken the necessary steps to minimize risk.

Many plans focus on natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes or fires. Others deal with data breaches, unexpected network downtime or the loss of a key employee such as a CEO or founder. Here are a few examples of contingency plan templates that deal with broadly different scenarios across a range of industries.

Severity and likelihood of risk: The manufacturers have been following the news in a region where they source specific airplane parts and have deemed the likelihood of disruption there “high.” They initially conduct a search for another supplier but quickly learn that it takes months—even years—to find one. Since the part is necessary for the construction of all their airplanes, they label the severity of this disruption “high” as well.

Trigger: Suppliers make the manufacturer aware that they will soon run out of the needed part due to a disruptive geo-political event in its country of origin.

Response: The manufacturer begins the search for a new supplier of the much-needed part in a more stable country.

Severity and likelihood of risk: The managers of a bank know of a vulnerability in their app that they are working to fix. If the app is hacked and their information systems are compromised, they are likely to lose vital customer data. They rate the likelihood of this event as “high” since, as a financial institution, they are a desirable target.

They also know from watching their competitors face similar situations that the potential for disruption to their business in an event like this is great. They rate the severity of this risk as “high” as well.

Trigger: IT makes the bank’s managers aware that the bank’s app has been hacked and their customers’ data is no longer secure.

Response: The app is immediately shut down and customers are notified that their data has been compromised. They are made aware of the steps that the bank is taking to ensure that they have access to their money and that their personal information is not available to anyone on the dark web. An on-call team of specially trained security experts come in to restore the bank's systems and secure customer information.

Severity and likelihood of risk: The plant’s managers know that severe flooding might spread un-treated water into the city’s streets and public waterways. Both the severity of this risk and its likelihood given the impending storm are deemed “high. ”

Trigger: The hurricane’s path turns toward the city and approaches to less than 100 miles away with wind speeds higher than the threshold rated “safe.” The plant’s contingency plan is put into action.

Response: All necessary workers are recalled to the plant 24/7 and measures are taken to treat as much of the water as possible before the hurricane arrives. According to their plan, whatever is left over will be pumped into holding tanks that are designed to withstand a hurricane. When windspeeds rise to a certain velocity, the plant itself is shut down and all workers evacuated.

Help your business respond quickly to changing conditions with IBM Maximo, an integrated cloud-based solution that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and advanced analytics to maximize performance and minimize costs and downtime.

Learn more about the process of disaster recovery planning and Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service.

Discover how global supply chains responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and are developing better ways to balance efficiency and resilience.

See how businesses are leveraging AI and other emerging technologies to maintain business continuity amid disruption and uncertainty.

Explore the business continuity measures IBM takes to help prevent or reduce the impact of potential threats.

Unlock the full potential of your enterprise assets with IBM Maximo Application Suite by unifying maintenance, inspection and reliability systems into one platform. It’s an integrated cloud-based solution that harnesses the power of AI, IoT and advanced analytics to maximize asset performance, extend asset lifecycles, minimize operational costs and reduce downtime.

1  “ El Nino contingency plan being readied for farmers and output ” (link resides outside ibm.com), Elara Securities Pvt Ltd., 27 April 2023.

2  “ HKMA has prepared contingency plans in case of severe sanctions ” (link resides outside ibm.com), UBS Global Research and Evidence Lab, 5 May 2022.

3  “ IBM business continuity management position paper ”, IBM Global Technology Services thought leadership white paper, September 2019.

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Business Continuity Planning: Why It’s Essential for Sustainable Success

What is a business continuity plan (BCP)?

In today’s fast-paced business environment, organizations face numerous risks and uncertainties that can disrupt their normal operations. What do you do and how do you respond when a disaster hits that causes a disruption or outage of your services? From natural disasters to cyberattacks , these unforeseen events can have devastating consequences on business operations and financial stability. This is where a business continuity plan (BCP) comes into play.

What Is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)?

A BCP is a structured and comprehensive strategy outlining how an organization will continue to operate and provide essential services in the midst of unexpected disruptions, such as natural disasters, technological failures, or other emergencies. The plan typically includes measures to ensure the safety of employees, maintain critical operations, and minimize financial and reputational losses during times of crisis, aiming to swiftly recover and resume normal business activities.

An effective business continuity plan helps to maintain normal operations during and after a disaster. This blog is intended to provide you with an overview of what a business continuity plan is, why it is important, the general components every BCP should have, the risks of not implementing a BCP, how to test your BCP, the difference between a BCP and DR plan, and finally, what SOC 2 auditors focus on when auditing an organization’s BCP.

What Is the Purpose of a Business Continuity Plan?

The purpose of a business continuity plan is to continue critical business operations functions during and after a disaster. Often, a business continuity plan is confused with a disaster recovery plan. We will discuss what a disaster recovery plan is later in this blog (since they go hand in hand). A BCP addresses the question – how can the business and its services continue operating if a disaster strikes? A BCP outlines procedures and instructions that a business must follow at the time of disaster so that the business can continue operation. Before outlining the elements of a BCP, below are key points and best practices to consider when establishing and then maintaining a BCP:

  • Senior management needs to approve the plan (in order to obtain buy-in from the entire organization).
  • The plan needs to be reviewed and updated regularly – at least annually.
  • The more detailed and up-to-date the better it is.
  • Update the plan after each test and capture the lessons learned.
  • Update the plan when there is a change in infrastructure, architecture, processes, policies, staff, or anything that would have an impact on the execution of the plan.
  • The most important factor is people and ensuring their safety, as well as having them understand the plan!

Preparing a BCP

What Are the Elements of a Business Continuity Plan & How Do You Write One?

Below is an outline of the general components every business continuity plan should have:

  • Scope and purpose of the BCP.
  • Identifying assets and their location (including critical systems, business functions/processes), and data.
  • Risk Assessmen t: Identify and assess potential risks and threats that can disrupt business operations. This includes evaluating both internal and external factors such as natural disasters, cybersecurity breaches , supply chain disruptions, and more.
  • Business Impact Analysis : Determine the potential impact of each identified risk on critical business functions. This analysis helps prioritize resources and recovery efforts based on the severity of the impact.
  • Emergency Response Procedures : Define step-by-step instructions on how to respond to an emergency situation, ensuring the safety of employees, minimizing damage, and initiating appropriate recovery measures.
  • Business Continuity Strategies : Develop strategies and tactics to maintain critical business functions during a disruption. This includes identifying backup systems, alternate locations, and contingency plans for various scenarios.
  • Communication Plan : Establish a comprehensive communication plan that ensures timely and accurate communication with employees, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders during a crisis. This helps manage expectations and maintain transparency.
  • Training and Awareness : Conduct regular training sessions and awareness programs (such as security awareness training or compliance training ) to educate employees on their roles and responsibilities during a crisis. This ensures that everyone is prepared and knows what actions to take in different scenarios.
  • Testing and Exercises : Regularly test and evaluate the effectiveness of the BCP through simulations and exercises. This helps identify any gaps or weaknesses in the plan, allowing for fine-tuning and continuous improvement.

Additionally, for further assistance, guidelines on how to conduct a BIA in more detail from the National Institute of Standards ( NIST ) can be found here . A BCP template from NIST can be found here .

Who is responsible for the BCP?

Who Is Responsible for Owning the BCP?

In most organizations, the responsibility for owning and overseeing the BCP typically falls to senior management or executive leadership. This might include roles such as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chief Risk Officer (CRO), Chief Information Officer (CIO), or another relevant executive-level position. These individuals are accountable for the overall strategic direction of the organization, including its preparedness for disruptions and the implementation of effective BCP strategies. In larger organizations, there might also be dedicated teams or individuals responsible for the ongoing maintenance, testing, and updates of the BCP.

What Are the Risks of Not Having a Business Continuity Plan?

What if there is no BCP?  Failing to have a business continuity plan in place can lead to significant risks and negative consequences. Some of the key risks associated with not having a BCP include:

  • Financial Loss : When a business experiences a disruption, the financial impact can be severe. Without a BCP, the organization may struggle to recover the financial losses caused by the interruption, potentially leading to long-term instability.
  • Operational Disruption : A lack of a BCP can result in a halt in operations, preventing businesses from serving their customers and fulfilling their commitments. This can damage the organization’s reputation and lead to the loss of valuable clients or customers.
  • Legal and Regulatory Compliance : Many industries have specific legal and regulatory obligations that organizations must adhere to. Failure to meet these obligations due to a lack of a BCP can result in legal repercussions, penalties, and even lawsuits.
  • Damage to Reputation : Disruptions can create a sense of vulnerability and lack of reliability in the eyes of stakeholders, including clients, customers, and business partners. Without a BCP to navigate through these challenges, the organization’s reputation may be irreparably damaged.
  • Competitive Disadvantage : In today’s competitive business landscape, organizations that can demonstrate a strong BCP have a competitive advantage. Without a BCP, an organization may struggle to maintain or regain its competitive edge, potentially losing market share to competitors.

Why is BCP testing important?

Importance of BCP Testing

The continuity plan team must be trained and tested on the BCP. Testing would include members of the team completing exercises that go over the plan and strategies to increase preparedness. Additionally, if the team is trained on the plan, it can be executed quickly and effectively in cases where the documented plan may be inaccessible for reference by the team during a disaster. Conducting tests can help the team understand and help create a mindset on what to do if the office is inaccessible and/or your systems are inaccessible when a disaster strikes (where your plan is stored). The overall objectives of BCP tests are to improve the response process, identify gaps or weaknesses in the plan, and develop team readiness and response as noted above. Again, tests should be conducted annually, at a minimum.

A few of the common types of BCP drills/tests are the following: Tabletop exercises, walkthroughs, and simulated testing. Additional details on each type of these noted tests can be found here from NIST and here .

When Should a BCP Be Activated & How Do You Classify a Disaster?

A BCP should be activated when a significant disruption occurs threatening the organization’s ability to operate normally and deliver essential services. This could include various types of disasters, emergencies, or unexpected events impacting the organization’s operations, resources, and functions. The decision to activate the BCP is typically based on predefined triggers, such as the severity of the event, its potential to disrupt critical operations, and the level of risk it poses to employees, customers, and stakeholders. Types of disasters that could impact critical business operations are (but not limited to) as follows:

  • Material cyber-attack on your systems (where a hacker breaks in and shuts down everything and/or removes everything).
  • Natural disaster (hurricane, flood, fire, snow/ice storm) – damaging an office and/or data center causing critical infrastructure or services to become unavailable or unresponsive.
  • System failures supporting critical business processes.
  • Cloud services outages.
  • Hardware failures.
  • Network and internet disruptions.
  • Supply chain disruptions, such as supplier failures, transportation disruptions, and shortages of essential resources.

Business Continuity Plan vs Disaster Recovery Plan

To reiterate, business continuity is the continuation of the business process during and after a disaster strikes. DRP, on the other hand, is the plan for the recovery of computer operations (and is usually a subset of the BCP). Overall, the purpose of the DRP is to get technical operations back to normal in the shortest time possible. Below is a list of key factors to consider as part of a DRP:

  • The DRP will also ensure that data and critical applications are restored from backup so that the business can continue regular operations.
  •  BCP is a long-term plan to maintain continuity of operations
  • DRP takes into account the specific RTO and RPO which is determined through a BIA.

BCP audit focus

What Do Auditors Focus on When Auditing a BCP?

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery would be focused on in a SOC 2 audit if the “ Availability Criteria ” is included in the scope of the examination. The availability criterion/requirements are listed below (pulled from the AICPA Trust Services Criteria ).

“A1.1: The entity maintains, monitors, and evaluates current processing capacity and use of system components (infrastructure, data, and software) to manage capacity demand and to enable the implementation of additional capacity to help meet its objectives.

 A1.2: The entity authorizes, designs, develops or acquires, implements, operates, approves, maintains, and monitors environmental protections, software, data backup processes, and recovery infrastructure to meet its objectives. 

A1.3: The entity tests recovery plan procedures supporting system recovery to meet its objectives.”

Some of the controls that could be evaluated in a SOC 2 examination to address the above availability criterion are:

  • Does your organization have a documented BCP plan?
  • Does your organization have a documented DR plan?
  • Have you tested your BCP plan within the last year (at a minimum)?
  • Have you tested your DR plan within the last year (at a minimum)?
  • Your critical data backup procedures (configurations including retention of backups).
  • Have you tested the recovery of your backups?
  • Are you maintaining and monitoring your services and supporting infrastructure for performance, availability, and security ?
  • Are you alerted when services and supporting infrastructure meet certain thresholds?
  • Do you have a cybersecurity and business interruption insurance policy?

BCP FAQs

Business Continuity Planning (BCP) FAQs

Here are some additional questions that typically come up when businesses are beginning the process of developing a robust BCP.

How Long Does a BCP Last?

The BCP should be reviewed at least annually, after any significant change in business operating conditions, or after it has been activated to account for any new lessons learned.

What Can Go Wrong with BCPs?

The most common mistake related to the creation and maintenance of BCPs is inadequate planning, leading to gaps in preparedness, and leaving critical aspects of the organization’s operations unaddressed.  Additionally, if a lack of buy-in and support from senior management is a factor, the BCP might not receive the necessary resources, attention, and commitment to ensure its success.

Do All Businesses Need to Have a BCP?

While having a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is highly recommended for all businesses, the extent and complexity of the plan can vary based on factors such as the size of the organization, the nature of its operations, the industry it belongs to, and the potential risks it faces. The larger and more complex the business, the larger and more complex your BCP will most likely be.

A business continuity plan is the backbone of an organization’s resilience and ability to withstand disruptions. It minimizes the risks associated with operating in today’s unpredictable environment, ensures the continuity of critical functions, and builds trust and confidence among stakeholders. By thoroughly assessing risks, implementing robust strategies, and regularly testing and improving their plans, organizations can confidently navigate through disruptive incidents and secure their future success.

Please contact us if you would like more information regarding SOC reports as it relates to Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery for your organization.

Additionally, our team can assist your organization with your organization’s audit needs for SOC 1 audits , SOC 2 audits , HIPAA audits , FEDRAMP compliance , HITRUST certification , and more.

This article was originally published on 4/13/2022 and was updated on 8/23/2023.

John Pohlmann

John has over 15 years of experience focused on IT security, governance, risk, compliance, and privacy. He started his career in 2006 with Protiviti and later went on to run IT audit and GRC functions for several Fortune 500 companies within the financial services, energy, hospitality, and software industries. John is also a certified information systems auditor (CISA) and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Management from Colorado State University.

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Why Every Organization Needs a Business Continuity Plan

Why Every Organization Needs a Business Continuity Plan

As spring arrives, businesses are once again facing the potential and sometimes disastrous impact of adverse weather conditions and natural disasters like high winds, flooding, wildfires, mudslides, and tornadoes. In recent decades, these events are occurring with higher frequency and severity. In addition to natural disasters, organizations need to prepare for non-weather-related disasters including fires, burst pipes, and long-term power loss.

Preparing a business continuity program (BCP)

What happens in your organization if an accident makes a worksite potentially hazardous? Employers have a responsibility to ensure that the work environment is safe and that employees are aware of potential hazards during recovery. For example, what happens if employees return to a worksite after flooding, but now there are mold hazards? Employees need to be aware of these hazards, provided with instruction/training on those hazards, personal protective equipment (PPE) supplied, if required, and administrative/engineering controls put in place to protect employees.

In other words, organizations need a business continuity program (BCP).

There are many resources available, but I highly recommend taking a look at Standard 1600 on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to help the communities cope with disasters and emergencies. This standard not only establishes a common set of criteria for disaster management, emergency management, and business continuity programs, it also provides the requirements for each organization to assess their current plans. Additionally, it promotes a shared understanding of the fundamentals of planning and decision-making to help organizations examine all possible hazards and prepare accordingly.

As you develop your BCP remember to ensure it is compliant with any industry and state applicable regulations. It should also be consistent with your organization's mission, management policy, and finances. As risks change, effective BCPs will have comprehensive plans that incorporate measures to continuously evaluate and update.

What to include in your BCP

A complete BCP contains multiple components and incorporates short and long-term mitigation strategies detailing who is responsible for specific tasks or courses of action.

Your organization’s BCP should encompass the following:

  • The means to identify the people who can implement the plan.
  • A strategic plan that defines the vision, mission, goals, and objectives of the program as it relates to the policy of the entity.
  • A mitigation plan that establishes interim and long-term actions to eliminate hazards that impact the entity or to reduce the impact of those hazards that cannot be eliminated.
  • A recovery plan developed using strategies based on short-term and long-term priorities, processes, vital resources, and acceptable time frames for the restoration of services, facilities, programs, and infrastructure.
  • A continuity plan that identifies the critical and time-sensitive applications, vital records, processes, and functions that shall be maintained.
  • A program for training and education of team members and senior management.

Plus remember, review your BCP regularly to ensure you are meeting any changing needs and exposures. I also recommend conducting periodic reviews, testing, and evaluating post-incident reports help to improve the program.

Don’t forget your emergency action plan (EAP)

We’ve blogged before about the importance and role of the EAP. For today’s purpose, it suffices to say that your company’s BCP should either include or refer to your EAP regarding what steps to take during an incident – such as evacuation routes, meeting places, and identification and activation of teams who will coordinate responses. For example, in the event of a hazardous material release, is there air monitoring equipment available to ensure the safety of the responders? What special personal protective equipment is available and where it is located?

According to FEMA, following a disaster, 90% of smaller companies fail within a year unless they can resume operations within five days. Planning is therefore essential, and yet only 20% of larger companies spend over ten days per month on their business continuity plans (BCP). This disparity and lack of preparation need our attention.

With courses such as Emergency and Disaster Preparedness , Emergency Response in the Workplace , NFPA 1600 Business Continuity Programs , NFPA Disaster/Emergency Management , and Disaster Site Workers , Skillsoft offers the training your organization needs to ensure you are ready for any eventuality.

Here’s a brief clip on responding to natural disasters from our Emergency and Disaster Preparedness course.

Read our white paper for advice on how best to integrate compliance with business strategy.

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Donna McEntee is the Workplace Safety and Health Solution Manager at Skillsoft.

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Why Organizations Need A Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

Businesses Need a Business Continuity Plan

Businesses of all sizes need to have a well-crafted  business continuity plan (BCP)  in place to protect their organization from the risks associated with unplanned disruptions and ensure the enterprise is better prepared for a crisis.

This blog post will discuss the importance of a business continuity plan and how enterprise organizations can create and maintain one that’s effective.

What Is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan is a document that refers to how a business will continue its critical operational functions in the event of an unforeseen disruption—anything from a natural disaster to a power outage. An effective BCP considers all potential disruptions and outlines the steps needed to maintain operations in each instance.

When developing your BCP, there are several things to consider. If a major disaster were to occur, do you have a strategy to get your human resources, sales, operations, and customer service teams back up and running to prevent revenue loss? For example, if your customer call center is damaged in a flood and those employees are displaced, will you be able to handle incoming service requests? Or, if a disaster destroys a significant data center, do you have a backup site location? A BCP addresses these types of concerns.

Why Is a Business Continuity Plan Important?

There are many reasons why a BCP is important. It helps ensure the stability of your operations in case of disruption. This is essential in protecting your revenue stream and safeguarding your business against any financial losses. Additionally, a BCP can help protect your data and systems from being compromised.

To be resilient and reduce downtime, it’s essential to have a BCP in place to establish integration between business processes, applications, and IT infrastructure.  93% of companies that experience a disaster  and lose data for 10 days or more file for bankruptcy within one year.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to start putting together your action plan.

5 Steps to Creating a Business Continuity Plan

Use these five steps to create a plan that helps ensure your business will survive an emergency.

Step 1: Assess the Risks

A key part of any BCP is a  business impact analysis (BIA) . This involves assessing the risks that could potentially impact your business and putting together strategies to mitigate these risks. There are many different ways to carry out a risk analysis, but some of the most common methods include interviews, surveys, and workshops.

When performing a BIA, it’s important to consider all potential risks, no matter how unlikely they may seem. By taking the time to identify and assess your business’s risks, you can be prepared for any unforeseen situation.

Step 2: Identify Recovery Strategies

A  disaster recovery plan  can help your organization respond quickly and effectively to disasters and disruptions while minimizing their impact on operations. Digitization can be a powerful tool to facilitate a continuity plan and improve the flow of communication.

By digitizing critical documents and data, your organization can provide your employees with the information they need when they need it. This could include digitized employee records, customer data, and other essential assets.  Document scanning and digitization  can also enable remote access and digital backups to these resources, allowing employees to access and share information even if they are not able to physically work in the office.

Step 3: Conduct Training

Training staff and educating employees on the importance of the BCP is essential for ensuring the safety of your workplace. Employees should be given clear instructions on how to respond in case of an emergency such as a power outage, system outage, fire, or natural disaster.

During regular staff training sessions, discuss with employees the procedures they need to follow in these situations as well as how to properly respond to various scenarios. Make sure to provide information on how to contact key personnel in the event of an emergency, and make sure all staff are aware of their roles and responsibilities during a crisis.

Step 4: Test the Plan

Testing the plan is an essential part of any BCP—helping you ensure its effectiveness and address any potential weaknesses or gaps. You should practice executing it as if the real event was occurring. This means identifying any potential issues that may arise during execution and developing solutions to address them.

You should also review any documents associated with the BCP to ensure they are accurate and current. Finally, you should involve stakeholders in the testing process to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the plan is understood by everyone who needs to know it.

Step 5: Update the Plan

It is important to update the BCP periodically to ensure its relevance. This can be done by revisiting the plan regularly and considering new threats or changes in the landscape that may require adjustments. Reviewing the plan after a major event or disruption is essential to evaluate its effectiveness and make any necessary changes.

Additionally, the plan should be reviewed for changes in the organization’s structure, technology, or resources. These changes may necessitate an update of the BCP to ensure it is still relevant. Finally, incorporating into the BCP any new  automated business process workflow  related to continuity planning should be done as soon as possible. By taking these steps, organizations can ensure their BCP is up to date and applicable to their current needs.

How to Create Buy-in for Your Business Continuity Plan

Creating buy-in for your BCP is essential for ensuring its success. The first step is to make sure everyone in your organization understands the importance of your BCP and why it’s needed. To do this, you should host an educational session to explain the plan and its importance. You should also ensure everyone understands their role in the plan and their responsibilities if it needs to be activated.

Once people understand the plan, you should ask for their input. This will help ensure everyone is on board with it and make it easier for them to follow when it needs to be implemented. Finally, you should reward those who commit to the BCP and demonstrate a commitment to its implementation. This could be done through recognition or offering incentives to follow the plan. By taking these steps, you can ensure everyone in your organization is invested in making sure the BCP is successful.

Do you own a business that requires an emergency backup plan? VRC can help you plan for the worst with our suite of high-quality information management solutions. We have all the resources you need to ensure your company is instantly back up and running.  Reach out to our team of information management experts  to get started.

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The Backbone of Resilient Organizations: Demystifying Business Continuity

What is business continuity.

No matter what business you’re in, unexpected disruptions can happen. Outages, natural disasters, supply chain failures, cyber incidents, equipment failures, and other physical and technical issues can all disrupt your ability to function and thrive.

To ensure your business is ready for unexpected events, you need to know what to do when things go wrong—and this is where business continuity comes in. Read on to learn more about business continuity, including disaster recovery, and what to include in your business continuity plan. Also, find out about business continuity management and business continuity solutions.

What is business continuity and why is it important?

Business continuity is an organization’s readiness to continue functioning during times of disruption. Business continuity is important because it reduces the potential impact of a disruption on customers, employees, and partners.

Having a business continuity plan (BCP)—which includes the analysis, technology, documentation, training, key team members, and procedures involved in resolving potential crisis situations—is vital for ensuring business continuity. A BCP includes goals focused on minimizing the potential impact of a crisis on a company’s financials and reputation—and maintaining industry, regional, and global compliance standards and regulations.

What’s the difference between business continuity and disaster recovery?

While business continuity and disaster recovery are often used interchangeably, they’re not the same thing.

Disaster recovery is a key part of a business continuity plan and is focused specifically on systems, data, and IT infrastructures. It includes technology, strategies, and processes for saving, restoring, and recovering data and protecting against cyber threats.

For a BCP to be successful in reducing downtime, mitigating risks, and remediating issues like data loss and corruption, disaster recovery measures are crucial. While both involve processes, people, and technology, business continuity offers a much wider scope to encompass the steps necessary for maintaining operations across every part of a business.

What should be included in a business continuity plan?

There are three components of a business continuity plan to consider:

  • Resilience—developing business functions and infrastructures to be prepared for an unexpected situation.
  • Recovery—setting up backup and recovery solutions for your applications, systems, and networks; determining what systems should be prioritized in the event of a disaster; and choosing a third-party vendor for additional help and resources if necessary.
  • Contingency—creating steps for what to do if a disruption occurs. This includes setting up a chain of command with key people and defining their responsibilities when it comes to communication, technology, third-party contracting, and coordinating temporary spaces. Keep these in mind at every step in the planning process to help ensure your BCP covers the full scope of your business.

With these three key components in mind, take the following steps to start building your business continuity plan:

  • Run a business impact analysis (BIA), which examines your current business functions, processes, and technology. An analysis will uncover potential vulnerabilities, risks, and threats you might encounter. Doing so helps identify areas of improvement and what to prioritize. After an analysis, you may consider making additional technology investments as well.
  • Outline and assign responsibilities for who will delegate, act, and support in the event of a crisis. These individuals will execute any necessary steps, be points of contact, gather resources, and guide efforts to minimize downtime for affected business functions.
  • Determine alternative forms of communication in case your standard means of communication are impacted by an outage or downtime.
  • Prepare backup equipment in case of damage or outages to prevent business-critical functions from stopping.
  • Understand and follow business continuity standards, which are legal and regulatory requirements determined for an industry. These are helpful when determining what steps you need to take in scenarios such as a breach or data loss. Creating a plan isn’t the last step—to make business continuity an important part of your organization, you also need business continuity management.

What is business continuity management?

Business continuity management includes the processes you put in place to set up and maintain your business continuity plan. It should include the following:

  • Creating policies that define the scope, objectives, and principles of business continuity. These should always keep the customer in mind to ensure you’ve documented what business-critical functions may impact customers and who is involved in customer service communication in the event of an outage or disruption.
  • Assembling business continuity teams throughout your organization who can communicate and enforce policies and procedures that are put in place. These employees will take part in ongoing reviews and tests to make sure everything and everyone is properly prepared for an incident.
  • Supporting a culture of business continuity by educating your entire organization about risks, policies, and documentation available. Offering ongoing training is an important way to increase awareness and gather data to see if there are any gaps or areas in need of improvement.
  • Maintaining up-to-date compliance standards and best practices to make sure your processes, workflows, and employees all work within the correct industry standards as they relate to data. If a business doesn’t keep up and an unexpected disruption occurs, there’s the risk of increased financial damages, legal costs, and fines.

Keeping track of all the continuously developing parts of a business continuity plan can be daunting for a growing organization. To reduce the time and effort involved, many businesses invest in business continuity solutions.

What kind of business continuity solutions should I consider?

The business continuity solutions you choose should be based on your organization’s needs. Depending on the industry you’re in, the size of your company, and your business-critical functions, you’ll find a range of software and resources available. These options include:

  • Cloud-based storage solutions, which provide a secure, remote location to back up and run workflows and applications, as well as store data. If there’s a breach or error causing data loss, you can access what you need from the cloud.
  • Backup and recovery tools for making copies of the data, applications, and systems within your IT infrastructure. If anything is deleted, corrupted, or shut down during a disruption, you can restore them and minimize downtime. These solutions offer different options for running backups, including automatically on a schedule, instantly, or as needed.
  • Virtualization tools that replicate environments and workspaces. If there’s an outage or device issues, employees can still access their applications and run processes as normal, reducing downtime that may affect services.
  • Contracts with third-party providers, such as disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) and backup-as-a-service. Based on your agreement, a provider can run data backups, host your IT infrastructure, and offer support in the event of a disaster. These services are typically offered with a subscription or a pay-as-you-use model and include support from IT and cybersecurity experts.
  • Unified communication tools to support collaboration across your entire organization. With one platform for connecting frontline workers, customer service agents, and other key members of your continuity teams, it’s easier to keep everyone up to date on disruptions and manage shifts and schedules to make sure the right people are available.

Business continuity should be a priority for any growing business looking to ensure the safety and security of their employees, technology, and data. To support the planning process, there are several solutions available to make business continuity planning easier. Though you can’t predict or prevent every disruption, with the right tools, a solid plan, and an educated team, business continuity can save you time, money, and resources across your organization.

Learn more • Developing your business continuity plan • Business continuity and disaster recovery

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The Importance of a Business Continuity Plan (Plus a Free Guide)

Creating a business continuity plan isn’t just a smart business strategy; it’s an essential component of ensuring survival during and after a crisis, emergency or disaster event. If your organization is looking to create (or update) its business continuity plan, look no further. This article covers the many benefits of having one. Plus, you’ll even find a downloadable, step-by-step guide for how to create one at the end.

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a process that outlines the potential impact of disaster situations to business operations. It creates policies that respond to various situations to ensure a business is able to recover quickly after a crisis. The main goal of a BCP is to protect people, property and assets. It also helps position your organization to recover from unexpected business interruptions, property damage, financial impact and even loss of life following an emergency.

Download 5 Steps to Building a Business Continuity Plan

Business Continuity Planning: Why You Should Care

There’s no denying that the beginning of 2020 has been incredibly difficult for many businesses. While some organizations have had to convert to a 100% remote approach to operations, others have have been forced to  shut their doors until further notice. The COVID-19 crisis was sudden and unexpected for many, and called for drastic measures that many businesses were not prepared for.

Much like in the coronavirus situation, many businesses do not recognize the need for a BCP until it’s too late. Here’s how having a BCP could save your business significant time, money and precious resources in the wake of an emergency or crisis.

5 Benefits of Having a Business Continuity Plan

1. your business will be more prepared to handle the unexpected..

Businesses can’t expect employees to know the best ways to react during a crisis situation. Leaving each person to respond in his or her own way will, at best, only add to the confusion and at worst, lead to loss of life. A BCP will help document procedures well in advance of an emergency. This way, employees can receive training to protect themselves and make smart decisions without panicking.

2. Your business will have safeguards in place (in addition to insurance).

A common misconception is that businesses do not need a business continuity plan if they have insurance. The truth is that a business can’t always rely on insurance alone. Insurance doesn’t always cover peripheral damage of an incident, such as loss of customers, loss of market share and operational setbacks. A BCP only helps bolster safety and security in your organization.

3. Your business will invest in itself and its ability to bounce back.

The time you spend developing and maintaining a business continuity plan is time that you spend investing in your company. It’s important to remember that your fixed costs will continue after an event, whether you’re open or not. The faster your organization can return to business as usual, the more likely you’ll be to fully recover from an unanticipated event.

4. Your business will have a plan to continue providing acceptable service after the disaster.

Threats, disruptions and disasters can lead to a loss in revenue and higher costs, which in turn can affect profitability. Don’t let an unanticipated event set your business back, especially when it comes to production of goods or services. A business continuity plan can help your organization keep operations running, retain customers and continue earning revenue.

5. Your business will better preserve its corporate reputation, image and revenue stream.

Companies that take the time to consider how they’ll respond to emergency situations are genuinely the ones who are able to bounce back and continue operations as usual. A predefined business continuity plan (when combined with proper insurance coverage) will help your organization eliminate the need to make hasty decisions under stressful conditions.

Here’s Your Free Guide to Creating a Business Continuity Plan

Business continuity planning is an expansive topic. With so many resources available on the internet, it can be difficult to know where to start. We made it easy with our step-by-step guide to business continuity planning. Inside, you’ll find resources including a BCP outline, a business impact questionnaire, and other helpful tools.

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Meaghan Kelly

Meaghan Kelly

Former marketing content copywriter for AkitaBox.

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An IT business continuity plan: Why you need one and what it entails

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Business continuity and disaster recovery plans ( BCDR ) are organization-wide plans to help prepare your business for a wide range of potential crises and to mitigate the impact of such events.

Threats to your business can take various forms—from global pandemics that disrupt supply chains to natural disasters that threaten your physical workspace. However, as businesses rely increasingly on various systems to manage core operations and house crucial information, including customer, employee, and financial data, threats to IT systems loom largest for many business owners.

That’s where your IT business continuity planning comes in. This may be part of a larger business continuity plan or may be conducted in isolation if IT is the sole concern of your business continuity management.

A deeper dive into business continuity planning

When an event disrupts your business’s operations, a business continuity and disaster recovery plan (BCDR) comes into action. Downtime can lead to financial losses for companies, so minimizing its impact is crucial to ensure prompt business recovery and minimize revenue loss.

Although disaster recovery is a critical function of IT systems, BCDR is much broader than merely ensuring the stability and security of your tech stack. It encompasses various aspects, such as ensuring employee safety, managing brand reputation, crisis management, identifying alternative work locations, and ensuring systems security and data protection.

Therefore, developing a comprehensive b usiness continuity and disaster recovery plan requires thoroughness. While it may not be possible to predict every potential disaster that could befall your business, you can develop fallback plans to utilize when disasters inevitably occur.

Threats to your IT systems

When you think of your IT systems, it’s natural to think of things like cyberattacks or systems downtime as posing potential threats to your business continuity. However, IT systems can face various threats that can cause significant damage and disrupt business operations. These threats include:

  • Natural disasters , such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, and tornadoes, which can damage physical infrastructure (like servers) and cause business disruptions.
  • Cyberattacks and data breaches , which can result in data loss, system downtime, reputational damage, financial losses, regulatory fines, and legal liability. These attacks are becoming more sophisticated and frequent, and companies must take necessary precautions to secure their systems and data.
  • Human errors made by employees, contractors, or vendors can also lead to system failures, data breaches, or other disruptions to business operations. Companies must invest in training and implementing proper protocols to mitigate such risks.
  • Power outages can result in system downtime and data loss. Companies must implement backup power systems and disaster recovery plans to minimize the impact of such events.

It’s important for your organization to identify the specific threats that are most relevant to their business and to develop appropriate plans and strategies to mitigate those risks.

Where to start when developing an IT business continuity plan (BCP)

Most good plans start with information-gathering, and your IT business continuity plans are no different. The components of gathering the right information are outlined here:

Business continuity management (BCM)

Business continuity management (BCM) is the process of identifying potential threats and risks to an organization, developing plans to mitigate those risks, and ensuring that the organization is prepared to respond effectively to a crisis or disruption. 

The goal of BCM is to enable an organization to continue its critical operations during and after a catastrophic event, whether that event is a natural disaster, cyber-attack, or any other unexpected occurrence that could impact the organization’s ability to function.

The role of a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) in business continuity management 

A business impact analysis (BIA) is a key component of your business continuity management or BCM process. The BIA identifies and evaluates the potential impact of a disruption on critical IT functions and business processes.

When doing a BIA, you’ll:

  • Identify the essential IT functions and processes your business needs to restore quickly after a disruption. For example, if you’re an e-commerce business, your website and payment processing systems are critical IT functions that need to be restored quickly to avoid losing revenue and customers.
  • Assess and quantify the potential impacts of a disruption on each function or process. These impacts can range from shipping delays to customers to regulatory non-compliance. By understanding the potential impacts, you’ll be able to prioritize your disaster recovery efforts and allocate resources effectively.
  • Understand the resources required to support each IT function or process. This can include personnel, technology, and facilities. This can help you identify single points of failure, such as only one person who knows how to operate a certain system. If that person is unavailable, it could result in significant downtime and lost revenue.

A team of coworkers collaborate on a crisis management plan over an iPad

By conducting a BIA, you can develop targeted and effective recovery strategies that minimize the impact of a disruption on your IT systems. It’s recommended that organizations conduct a BIA at least once a year or whenever there are significant changes to the organization’s operations or risk profile.

How your IT business continuity plan comes to life

As business continuity and disaster recovery are interdependent, there is a significant overlap in devising an IT disaster recovery (DR) plan and an IT business continuity (BC) plan. As such, we like to consider all three branches of BCDR when developing an effective business continuity plan. Those three branches are:

  • Emergency response: This branch of business continuity focuses on the immediate response to a crisis or emergency situation. Think of it as the immediate “to-do plan” if there’s a natural disaster, cyber-attack, or any other unexpected event that can disrupt business operations.
  • Crisis management & business continuity: Crisis management deals with the restoration of critical business functions after an interruption, including the recovery of data, systems, and operations. The objective is to ensure that business operations can be resumed as quickly as possible and minimize the impact of the disruption.
  • Disaster recovery: Time to recover critical business functions! Whether you’re rebuilding infrastructure, replacing equipment, or upgrading systems, this stage is about getting your business back to where it was. This branch also focuses on the proactive measures that organizations can take to mitigate the impact of another potential disaster or crisis.

For each IT function, you should have a plan in place that covers all three branches. Let’s look at an example:

Example: A power outage impacts critical IT systems

Power outages or blackouts can happen for a number of reasons, but if your business is located in a region that is prone to volatile weather or extreme heat, power outages are something you should prepare for well in advance. If and when a power outage occurs, you might have the following steps in place:

Your emergency response to a power outage: 

With the correct procedures and training in place, your team will know exactly how to respond the next time there’s a blackout. This might include:

  • Using personal wireless hotspots for urgent tasks that require web access
  • Unplugging devices from power sources so they don’t short circuit when power returns
  • Reporting the outage to the relevant authorities 
  • Seeking to understand the extent of the problem (often this can be found on websites or through social media accounts of power companies)
  • Notifying key people (customers/leaders) about the situation (this can even be done through social media

Roles and responsibilities will also be clear so people do not duplicate efforts or create confusion.

Crisis management & business continuity: 

Now that initial steps and actions have been taken, you can move to actively manage your business while the power is out. Actions taken now will depend on the duration of the power outage, but some options include:

  • Sending employees home if it’s easier for them to simply work from home or it looks like the outage may impact the rest of the business day
  • Investing in a backup generator if the power will be out for a prolonged period (this might also be part of disaster recovery if it’s a proactive step to be taken for next time)
  • Continuing to keep customers and stakeholders up to date via essential channels like social media, email, and even phone

Disaster recovery from power outages: 

Hooray! The power is restored. Your office can now return to normal productivity. But before everybody jumps in, your tech team might want to:

  • Reset the circuit breaker before turning on devices and network routers
  • Confirm any steps for restarting systems that have not been shut down properly

why is it important for organizations to have a business continuity plan in place

Having survived an outage, your business might now reassess your preparedness for such events and decide to implement some changes. This can include things like:

  • Setting up an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to allow people to safely shut down their computers
  • Ensuring all staff members store all business documents, contact lists, and other critical information in the cloud so it’s accessible from anywhere with an internet connection

Who’s responsible for your IT business continuity plan

Going through each and every IT system, from hardware to software, that your company uses may seem like a daunting task. That responsibility typically falls on the organization’s IT department or a designated IT team. 

However, depending on the organization’s size and structure, the responsibility for a successful business continuity plan may also fall on other departments or individuals, such as risk management, operations, human resources, or a business continuity team.

Moreover, your IT team will likely depend on all staff and even business partners for inputs on the nature of certain systems, how essential they are to maintaining business operations, and the revenue implications of those systems being down.

For example, your marketing team may use various systems for email deployment, social media monitoring, content production, and more. As such, your IT team may require information from them on which systems you use that are most critical to maintaining productivity and which systems are most closely tied to revenue.

The importance of staff training

Because human error puts your IT systems at risk, all staff should also be required to undergo annual training on data security and emergency procedures. Depending on the compliance frameworks your company adheres to, certification may also be required for all employees. 

For example, if your company processes credit card information, it may be required for all employees to complete PCI compliance training. PCI compliance training refers to a program or series of courses designed to educate individuals and organizations on the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) and the requirements for complying with these standards. 

PCI DSS is a set of security standards developed by major credit card companies to help ensure that businesses that accept, process, store, or transmit credit card information do so in a secure manner and protect against fraud and data breaches.

The importance of testing & iterating your IT business continuity plans

Just like running regular fire drills, your IT business continuity plan needs to be constantly tested and updated. Plus, every time you do a new business impact analysis (or BIA), you’ll potentially identify new areas of vulnerability that your BCDR needs to account for.

Here are some steps to follow when testing your BCDR plan:

  • Define the testing objectives: Defining the objectives of the test can include testing the effectiveness of specific recovery procedures, identifying weaknesses in the plan, or assessing the readiness of key personnel.
  • Develop a testing strategy: A testing strategy will outline the scope of the test, the testing approach, and the expected outcomes. This should include a detailed test plan that identifies the testing scenarios, the resources needed to conduct the test, and the criteria for success.
  • Conduct the test: Run the test according to the testing plan. This may involve simulating a disaster scenario, testing specific recovery procedures, or conducting a tabletop exercise to test the response of key personnel.
  • Evaluate the results: This may involve reviewing the test data, conducting post-test interviews with key personnel, or analyzing the effectiveness of specific recovery procedures.
  • Improve: Based on your results, improvements to the BCDR plan may be identified and implemented. These may include revising specific recovery procedures, updating the contact list for key personnel, or investing in additional resources to improve the organization’s overall readiness for a disaster.

Need help? Working with the experts at Thoropass can help you build the foundations for a resilient business that stands the test of time.

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What is a contingency plan? A guide to contingency planning

Julia Martins contributor headshot

A business contingency plan is a backup strategy for your team or organization. It lays out how you’ll respond if unforeseen events knock your plans off track—like how you’ll pivot if you lose a key client, or what you’ll do if your software service goes down for more than three hours. Get step-by-step instructions to create an effective contingency plan, so if the unexpected happens, your team can spring into action and get things back on track.

No one wants Plan A to fail—but having a strong plan B in place is the best way to be prepared for any situation. With a solid backup plan, you can effectively respond to unforeseen events effectively and get back on track as quickly as possible. 

A contingency plan is a proactive strategy to help you address negative developments and ensure business continuity. In this article, learn how to create a contingency plan for unexpected events and build recovery strategies to ensure your business remains healthy.

What is contingency planning?

What is a contingency plan .

A contingency plan is a strategy for how your organization will respond to important or business-critical events that knock your original plans off track. Executed correctly, a business contingency plan can mitigate risk and help you get back to business as usual—as quickly as possible. 

You might be familiar with contingency plans to respond to natural disasters—businesses and governments typically create contingency plans for disaster recovery after floods, earthquakes, or tornadoes. 

But contingency plans are just as important for business risks. For example, you might create a contingency plan outlining what you will do if your primary competitors merge or how you’ll pivot if you lose a key client. You could even create a contingency plan for smaller occurrences that would have a big impact—like your software service going down for more than three hours.

Contingency planning vs risk management

Project risk management is the process of identifying, monitoring, and addressing project-level risks. Apply project risk management at the beginning of the project planning process to prepare for any risks that might come up. To do so, create a risk register to identify and monitor potential project risks. If a risk does happen, you can use your risk register to proactively target that risk and resolve it as quickly as possible. 

A contingency plan is similar to a project risk management plan or a crisis management plan because it also helps you identify and resolve risks. However, a business contingency plan should cover risks that span multiple projects or even risks that could affect multiple departments. To create a contingency plan, identify and prepare for large, business-level risks.

Contingency planning vs crisis management

Contingency planning is a proactive approach that prepares organizations for potential emergencies by implementing pre-planned risk mitigation strategies. It involves identifying threats and crafting strategies in advance. 

Crisis management , on the other hand, is reactive, focusing on immediate response and damage control when a crisis occurs. While contingency planning sets the stage for effective handling of emergencies, crisis management involves real-time decision-making and project management during an actual crisis. Both are important for organizations and businesses to maintain their stability and resilience.

Contingency plan examples

There are a variety of reasons you’d want to set up a contingency plan. Rather than building one contingency plan, you should build one plan for each type of large-scale risk or disaster that might strike. 

Business contingency plan

A business contingency plan is a specialized strategy that organizations develop to respond to particular, unforeseen events that threaten to disrupt regular operations. It's kind of like a business continuity plan, but there's one key difference. 

While business continuity plans aim to ensure the uninterrupted operation of the entire business during a crisis, a business contingency plan zeroes in on procedures and solutions for specific critical incidents, such as data breaches, supply chain interruptions, or key staff unavailability. 

A business contingency plan could include:

Strategies to ensure minimal operational disruption during crises, such as unexpected market shifts, regulatory compliance changes, or severe staff shortages.

Partnerships with external agencies that can provide support in scenarios like environmental hazards or public health emergencies.

A comprehensive communication strategy with internal and external stakeholders to provide clear, timely information flow during crises like brand reputation threats or legal challenges.

Environmental contingency plan

While severe earthquakes aren’t particularly common, being unprepared when “the big one” strikes could prove to be catastrophic. This is why governments and businesses in regions prone to earthquakes create preparedness initiatives and contingency plans.

A government contingency plan for an earthquake could include things like: 

The names and information of the people designated to handle certain tasks in advance to ensure the emergency response is quick and concise

Ways to educate the public on how to respond when an earthquake hits

A timeline for emergency responders.

Technology contingency plan

If your business is particularly data-heavy, for example, ensuring the safety and cybersecurity of your information systems is critical. Whether a power surge damages your servers or a hacker attempts to infiltrate your network, you’ll want to have an emergency response in place.

A business’s contingency plan for a data breach could involve: 

Steps to take and key team members to notify in order to get data adequately secured once more

The names and information of stakeholders to contact to discuss the impact of the data breach and the plan to protect their investment

A timeline to document what is being done to address the breach and what will need to be done to prevent data breaches in the future

Supply chain contingency plan

Businesses that are integral parts of the supply chain, such as manufacturing entities, retail companies, and logistics providers, need an effective supply chain contingency plan to continue functioning smoothly under unforeseen circumstances.

These plans hedge against supply chain disruptions caused by events like natural disasters or technological outages and help organizations reduce downtime and ensure real-time operational capabilities. 

A supply chain contingency plan could include:

Secure critical data and systems while promptly notifying key team members, such as IT staff and management, for immediate action.

A predetermined list of essential stakeholders, including suppliers, customers, investors, and authorities, should be contacted to inform them about the disruption and steps being taken.

A detailed timeline is essential for documenting the immediate response and outlining long-term strategies to prevent future disruptions in the supply chain.

Pandemic contingency plan

In the face of a global health crisis, a pandemic contingency plan is vital for organizations in healthcare, retail, and manufacturing. This plan focuses on mitigation strategies to minimize operational disruptions and ensure the safety of employees while maintaining business continuity. 

A pandemic response plan could include:

A comprehensive health and safety protocol for employees, which integrates regular health screenings, detailed risk analysis, and emergency medical support as key components.

Flexible work arrangements and protocols for remote operations and digital communication.

A list of key personnel and communication channels for immediate response and coordination.

Regularly reviewing and adapting the pandemic contingency plan as part of an ongoing disaster recovery plan to address evolving challenges and lessons learned.

How to create a contingency plan

You can create a contingency plan at various levels of your organization. For example, if you're a team lead, you could create a contingency plan for your team or department. Alternatively, company executives should create business contingency plans for situations that could impact the entire organization. 

As you create your contingency plan, make sure you evaluate the likelihood and severity of each risk. Then, once you’ve created your plan—or plans—get it approved by your manager or department head. That way, if a negative event does occur, your team can leap to action and quickly resolve the risk without having to wait for approvals.

1. Make a list of risks

Before you can resolve risks, you first need to identify them. Start by making a list of any and all risks that might impact your company. Remember: there are different levels of contingency planning—you could be planning at the business, department, or program level. Make sure your contingency plans are aligned with the scope and magnitude of the risks you’re responsible for addressing. 

A contingency plan is a large-scale effort, so hold a brainstorming session with relevant stakeholders to identify and discuss potential risks. If you aren’t sure who should be included in your brainstorming session, create a stakeholder analysis map to identify who should be involved.

2. Weigh risks based on severity and likelihood

You don’t need to create a contingency plan for every risk you lay out. Once you outline risks and potential threats, work with your stakeholders to identify the potential impact of each risk. 

Evaluate each risk based on two metrics: the severity of the impact if the risk were to happen and the likelihood of the risk occurring. During the risk assessment phase, assign each risk a severity and likelihood—we recommend using high, medium, and low. 

3. Identify important risks

Once you’ve assigned severity and likelihood to each risk, it’s up to you and your stakeholders to decide which risks are most important to address. For example, you should definitely create a contingency plan for a risk that’s high likelihood and high severity, whereas you probably don’t need to create a contingency plan for a risk that’s low likelihood and low severity. 

You and your stakeholders should decide where to draw the line.

4. Conduct a business impact analysis

A business impact analysis (BIA) is a deep dive into your operations to identify exactly which systems keep your operations ticking. A BIA will help you predict what impact a specific risk could have on your business and, in turn, the response you and your team should take if that risk were to occur. 

Understanding the severity and likelihood of each risk will help you determine exactly how you will need to proceed to minimize the impact of the threat to your business. 

For example, what are you going to do about risks that have low severity but high likelihood? What about risks that are high in severity, but relatively low in likelihood? 

Determining exactly what makes your business tick will help you create a contingency plan for every risk, no matter the likelihood or severity.  

[inline illustration] Business impact analysis for a contingency plan (example)

5. Create contingency plans for the biggest risks

Create a contingency plan for each risk you’ve identified as important. As part of that contingency plan, describe the risk and brainstorm what your team will do if the risk comes to pass. Each plan should include all of the steps you need to take to return to business as usual.

Your contingency plan should include information about:

The triggers that will set this plan into motion

The immediate response

Who should be involved and informed?

Key responsibilities, including a RACI chart if necessary

The timeline of your response (i.e. immediate things to do vs. longer-term things to do)

[inline illustration] 5 steps to include in your contingency plan (infographic)

For example, let’s say you’ve identified a potential staff shortage as a likely and severe risk. This would significantly impact normal operations, so you want to create a contingency plan to prepare for it. Each person on your team has a very particular skill set, and it would be difficult to manage team responsibilities if more than one person left at the same time. Your contingency plan might include who can cover certain projects or processes while you hire a backfill, or how to improve team documentation to prevent siloed skillsets. 

6. Get approval for contingency plans

Make sure relevant company leaders know about the plan and agree with your course of action. This is especially relevant if you’re creating team- or department-level plans. By creating a contingency plan, you’re empowering your team to respond quickly to a risk, but you want to make sure that course of action is the right one. Plus, pre-approval will allow you to set the plan in motion with confidence—knowing you’re on the right track—and without having to ask for approvals beforehand.

7. Share your contingency plans

Once you’ve created your contingency plans, share them with the right people. Make sure everyone knows what you’ll do, so if and when the time comes, you can act as quickly and seamlessly as possible. Keep your contingency plans in a central source of truth so everyone can easily access them if necessary.

Creating a project in a work management platform is a great way of distributing the plan and ensuring everyone has a step-by-step guide for how to enact it.

8. Monitor contingency plans

Review your contingency plan frequently to make sure it’s still accurate. Take into account new risks or new opportunities, like new hires or a changing business landscape. If a new executive leader joins the team, make sure to surface the contingency plan for their review as well. 

9. Create new contingency plans (if necessary)

It’s great if you’ve created contingency plans for all the risks you found, but make sure you’re constantly monitoring for new risks. If you discover a new risk, and it has a high enough severity or likelihood, create a new contingency plan for that risk. Likewise, you may look back on your plans and realize that some of the scenarios you once worried about aren’t likely to happen or, if they do, they won’t impact your team as much.

Common contingency planning pitfalls—and how to avoid them

A contingency plan is a powerful tool to help you get back to normal business functions quickly. To ensure your contingency planning process is as smooth as possible, watch out for common pitfalls, like: 

Lack of buy-in

It takes a lot of work to create a contingency plan, so before you get started, ensure you have support from executive stakeholders. As you create your plan, continuously check in with your sponsors to ensure you’ve addressed key risks and that your action plan is solid. By doing so, you can ensure your stakeholders see your contingency plan as something they can get behind.

Bias against “Plan B” thinking

Some company cultures don’t like to think of Plan B—they like to throw everything they have at Plan A and hope it works. But thinking this way can actually expose your team to more risks than if you proactively create a Plan B.

Think of it like checking the weather before going sailing so you don’t accidentally get caught in a storm. Nine times out of ten, a clear sunny day won’t suddenly turn stormy, but it’s always better to be prepared. Creating a contingency plan can help you ensure that, if a negative event does occur, your company will be ready to face it and bounce back as quickly as possible. 

One-and-done contingency plans

It takes a lot of work to put a contingency plan together. Sometimes when you’ve finished, it can be tempting to consider it a job well done and forget about it. But make sure you schedule regular reminders (maybe once or twice a year) to review and update your contingency plan if necessary. If new risks pop up, or if your business operations change, updating your contingency plan can ensure you have the best response to negative events.  

[inline illustration] The easiest ways to prevent contingency plan pitfalls (infographic)

You’ve created a contingency plan—now what?

A contingency plan can be a lot of work to create, but if you ever need to use it, you’ll be glad you made one. In addition to creating a strong contingency plan, make sure you keep your plan up-to-date.

Being proactive can help you mitigate risks before they happen—so make sure to communicate your contingency plan to the team members who will be responsible for carrying them out if a risk does happen. Don’t leave your contingency plan in a document to collect dust—after creating it, you should use it if need be!

Once you’ve created the plan, make sure you store it in a central location that everyone can access, like a work management platform . If it does come time to use one of your contingency plans, storing them in a centrally accessible location can help your team quickly turn plans into action.

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What is Backup and Recovery?

Acronis

Backup and recovery is the process of creating a copy of our critical data, storing it in a secure place, and then restoring that data to its original location or a safe alternative in case of unexpected scenarios like hardware failure, accidental deletion, data corruption, cyberattacks, and natural disasters. If we face such a situation that, of course, would lead to data loss, which could be a heartbreaking experience. But if you have provided yourself already with a backup and recovery option, you will be able to recover all of your information in a blink of an eye. Thus, you will be able to proceed with your casual operations and tasks.

The backup and recovery process is essential for every business organization around the globe, because with this kind of service, you can guarantee the business continuity of your company no matter what happens. Organizations can rely on backup and recovery solutions, whether they are onsite or cloud-based, to automate and facilitate the protection and preservation of their data for business needs and regulatory requirements.

What is the difference between data backup and recovery?

The main contrast between backup and recovery lies in their functions. Backing up involves protecting and preserving your data, while recovery refers to making it able to be used when necessary.

On the other hand, recovery pertains to the action of retrieving and reinstating the backed-up data onto your systems to prevent any interruptions in operations. Having backups and swift recovery processes plays a critical role in maintaining business operations seamlessly and ensuring business stability.

What are the 3 main types of backup?

As we already understood, backup is a critical aspect for every business organization and becomes an integral part of providing business continuity processes. But there are three main types of backup options. What are these three types? We will now explore them in detail so you can become more familiar with every one of them and how they function. Are you ready? Let's get started.

Full backups

This type of backup ensures that all data from a server, database, virtual machine (VM), or connected data source is securely saved. Think of this backup type as creating a copy exactly the same as the original database, with the same size and the same amount of information. You are literally cloning your original database, creating a copy of all this information, and keeping it in a safe place for emergency situations. The time taken for these backups can vary from hours to days, depending on the volume of data being stored. An advanced data management system requires full backups and completes them faster when necessary.

Incremental backups

An incremental backup captures only new data since the last full incremental was performed. This gives more flexibility to business organizations in spinning these types of database backups as often as they want. Incremental backup requires space to store only the new data that was not uploaded with the full backup, which leads to a lightning-fast backup process.

Differential backups

The strategy of differential backups involves using a full backup as a reference point for subsequent backups. After completing the backup of primary data, differential backups identify new or modified data to be backed up. As more data is created or altered since the last full backup, it becomes eligible for inclusion in a differential backup. Companies can schedule when to perform these backups and consistently store backup data.

In a disaster recovery situation, restoring data only requires the full backup and the latest differential backup. However, regular differential backups consume more storage space compared to incremental backups; hence, organizations need to establish practical retention policies to manage storage effectively.

These three types of backups are related to each other and have an essential connection between them in order to protect us from lost data. Their purpose is to keep all of our information backed up in order to be able to retrieve data and execute the recovery process whenever we need it.

Why is Backup and Disaster Recovery important?

Data backup process can be named as a lifesaving option for every user and business organization. Why is that? Because our computers and mobile phones have become an essential part of our life, we are using them for all kind of everyday activities. Storing our sensitive data on them is really a blessing, because we can access this data whenever we want to, but what happens if we face some kind of unexpected scenarios?

There is a real risk that we may experience primary data failures and it could be caused by natural disasters, cyber attacks, hardware failure, data corruption, human error, and also lost or stolen devices. In such events data loss can be permanent, fortunately, today we are provided with backup solution and data protection services. If we are clever enough and already using  data backup  and recovery services we will be able to store our valuable data on a safe place and then to recover it whenever we need to restore data.

In this sense every user and business organization must have a robust and tested backup and disaster recovery plan for these unexpected scenarios. The probability to face one of the events we mentioned is quite fair enough, so we have to be prepared for such a moment. You must equip yourself with a comprehensive data backup and recovery plan to provide peace of mind knowing that your precious information will be protected and whatever happens you will be able to recover your information and keep your business running as usual. So it is up to you to ensure yourself with robust and reliable backup data recovery plan. Let's dive deeper in the world of the recovery plan strategy and explain the processes.

What exactly is a disaster recovery plan ?

A disaster recovery plan defines how quickly you can recover from an incident that unexpectedly affects the functionality of critical apps and data and makes them inaccessible. Having such a plan prepares you for restoring the functionality of your apps and systems and getting them back online quickly, so you can minimize the damage like data lost that would affect your business. Understanding a few essential terms can help shape your strategic decisions and enable you to better evaluate backup and disaster recovery solutions. This kind of plan includes two key purpose components, which are RTO and RPO.

RTO: Recovery Time Objective

RTO is the goal your business organization defines for the maximum period of time it should take to recover normal operations and functionalities after an outage or data loss event.

RPO: Recovery Point Objective

RPO is the goal your business organization defines for the maximum amount of information and data the organization can lose. This process is measured in time; it starts from the moment the failure happens to your last data center backup. Let's say, for instance, that if you go through a data center failure now and the last full backup was 12 hours ago, your RPO is 12 hours. This is how the time for RPO is measured.

Many organization owners know the pain of a downtime and how costly it could be. In the fast-paced world of business, customers now expect top-notch service. Any downtime in operations can lead to lost sales, decreased productivity, and a drop in customer satisfaction. This is why it's crucial for every company to have a disaster recovery strategy in place.

What is the difference between Cloud vs Onsite Backup and Disaster Recovery?

These two methods are incredibly helpful and real lifesaving options in the case of unexpected events, but they work differently. Wonder what is the difference? We will explain exactly what the difference is between them.

Cloud backup and disaster recovery

As the name suggests, it is based on cloud storage services. Using such a service will store your data on a cloud storage space (a remote location) and keep your information there. In case of need, you will be able to recover your precious information from the cloud. To execute such a backup, you will need a stable internet connection in order to complete the backup and recovery process.  Cloud disaster recovery  is a service that makes the user able to restore fundamental operations quickly and provides remote access to secure secondary infrastructure in the event of a disaster.

The advantages of using such a cloud backup and disaster recovery are that you will be provided with reliable and secure infrastructure, ensuring that you will always be able to recover your data whenever you need it. It is a fact that when using a cloud-based backup and recovery plan, you will have the following benefits:

Hardware independence : Even if your primary production hardware is not working properly due to failure, ransomware, a natural disaster, etc., you will be able to restore and continue operations with cloud disaster recovery tools. This is extremely useful if your employees are working from home and you want to enable them to continue working while you get the hardware problem fixed.

Ease of use : Cloud disaster recovery solutions can be easy to set up, operate, and manage, depending on the service provider. These vendors offer an easy-to-use interface that constantly monitors cloud resources and enables disaster recovery when needed or in case of system failure.

Low upfront costs: This is one of the most important aspects for every user because we all want to equip ourselves with reliable and stable data backup and recovery services, but we don't want to waste too much money on them. Cloud backup and recovery is the perfect way to combine functionality and reliability with your financial expectations. Instead of purchasing expensive hardware and gradually consuming its resources while the better part of it sits idle, you only pay for what you use. This makes  cloud backup  and recovery services the cheapest and most reliable option for recovery in unexpected scenarios. Furthermore, the biggest advantage of such a service is the fully automated process of restoring data in an incredibly short period of time.

Onsite backup and disaster recovery

An onsite backup is a system backup of data that is stored locally on a physical storage device. Local backups are useful for protecting data from theft, cyberattacks, hardware failures, or natural disasters. They provide protection for disaster recovery, specifically if the business relies mostly on computers. This type of backup typically involves storing data on local media, such as hard drives. The companies typically have these devices inside the building where the organization is based in order to have easy access to them in case of emergencies like lost or damaged data.

Having an onsite backup and recovery option is very useful, and you can be sure that whenever you need recovery, it will always be next to you. This type of backup has some specific advantages; let's explore them in detail.

Reduced latency: Because this type of disaster recovery infrastructure is onsite and, of course, accessible through the local area network, it is fast and easy to access whenever you need it.

Zero Downtime: Another critical advantage of using on-premises disaster recovery solutions is that they can be configured with SSDs, which will support real-time replication, which of course means minimal data loss in an emergency because of the fast-paced data communication between the network. This curse means that the recovery point objectives are reduced almost to zero.

Custom infrastructure: Onsite infrastructure is specifically built to meet the needs of the organization. Which means that you have more flexibility when creating your own infrastructure for emergency backup storage space.

Now, when we have a better view of these two different methods for backup and disaster recovery, you can choose which of them to use for your business organization. They both have their own advantages, but everyone should make their own personal choice. Based on the specific and personal requirements and needs. When you provide yourself with an option for backup and disaster recovery, you will have peace of mind that all your business data and sensitive information will be protected because you will be able to use the backup and recovery methods in order to ensure business continuity for your company in case of unexpected scenarios.

What is a Disaster Recovery Backup?

Backup and disaster recovery is the process of periodically creating or updating multiple copies of your files, storing them in a remote location, and using the copies to continue or resume business operations in the event of data loss due to a hardware failure, data corruption, cyberattack, or accidental deletion of data due to a human error or natural disaster.

The processes ' backup ’ and ‘ disaster recovery ’ are sometimes mistaken for each other because people think it is one process, but there are two different processes in the symbiosis of backup and disaster recovery strategies.

Backup is the process of making a replication copy of your whole data, which you store at a remote location (cloud-based) or on a physical hardware device (local).

Disaster recovery itself is the plan and processes involved in using backup copies to retrieve access to applications, data, and other IT resources after an outage or unexpected data loss. The goal of this whole process is to restore the complete copy of your information and return your data center to its functional and healthy condition again.

What are the main types of data recovery?

As we already mentioned the remote and local recovery options, we will now discuss in detail the main types of data recovery. Are you ready to dive deeper into the world of recovery processes? Then, let's get started.

  • Granular recovery process : The granular recovery method enables you to quickly retrieve specific files and items from image-based backups. Using this recovery method, you can effortlessly restore damaged or mistakenly deleted files or items without having to restore a machine beforehand.
  • Instant Mass Restore: Storing your files on a software-defined storage cluster enables you to recover your applications without having to wait for data transfers. This means the service is operational and running before the virtual machines are moved back to their original location and condition. The time it takes to recover is more similar to the time of active-standby application clustering than traditional recovery methods that rely solely on backups.
  • Bare metal machine recovery :  Bare metal restore  is a data recovery process that restores a malfunctioning server or computer to a new machine. This method is a multi-step process in which the backup recovery point is used for the complete full-image recovery of a protected server to a new hardware device. The process is executed by reinstalling the operating system and applications, as well as restoring your data and settings.
  • Volume Recovery : Volume recovery is the process of recovering a level-0 volume to its original condition as of a specified date or time. Volume recovery is necessary only in cases where the complete data volume has been damaged.
  • Snapshot recovery : Snapshots are generally created for data protection, but they can also be used for testing application software. A storage snapshot is commonly used for disaster recovery when important data is deleted by mistake due to a human error or another unexpected scenario like a natural disaster or a cyber attack. In this case, the snapshot recovery process is a lifesaving option because you will be able to restore your entire information from scratch.

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Acronis - The #1 Backup and Recovery solution for all Businesses, MSPs, and Home Users

A reliable backup and recovery solution  is critical for every business organization, MSP, and home user. However, there is no universal formula or approach for all the companies and users around the world. Every single business organization must take time to create a unique backup and recovery plan that suits their specific requirements.

Why is that? Some businesses and MSPs may rely on full backups, while others may need a combination of full, incremental, and differential backups in order to meet their requirements and ensure robust protection for their critical data. Such a combination can be quite expensive as a service and could also be hard to manage, and it may need expertise to pilot. Fortunately, there is a perfect solution to this problem, and it is named Acronis Cyber Protect. Which offers businesses, MSPs, and home users an affordable, user-friendly, and easy-to-manage interface that reduces the time for completing a backup, ensures top-notch data protection, and last but not least, minimizes the downtime via efficient disaster recovery solutions.

Every business owner knows the pain of downtime and how costly it could be for the organization. This, of course, would result in missed orders, annoyed customers, and the reputation of the business being harmed. But with Acronis Cyber Protect, you will be able to reduce the downtime and all the catastrophic consequences that it leads to. Our product combines the completion of full, incremental, and differential backups in order to ensure business continuity and support sophisticated strategies on a single platform.

Another fundamental aspect that has made our package a market leader for so many years is the easy-to-manage and monitor backup processes from the user-friendly interface. Thus, you can customize your preferred backup schedule in order to ensure that regular backups will be performed without disrupting your normal business operations and processes.

When your backups are created and uploaded on the cloud, Acronis Cyber Protect will safeguard them via hybrid protection, which includes AES-256 encryption (for data at rest and in transit), storing multiple backup copies in different locations (local, off-premises, and the Acronis cloud), and advanced cybersecurity features powered by AI and machine learning. This will guarantee that all backup files are always available for access and rapid recovery to minimize downtime and ensure business continuity regardless of the disaster recovery scenario.

Acronis Cyber Protect will also provide you with different scalability options, and you will be able to make changes to your plan according to your business organization's needs. Whether you have a single server or a complex server infrastructure, backup software can scale to accommodate your specific requirements and meet your expectations. So don't hesitate anymore and choose our product in order to get the best backup and recovery solutions for your business or home network. We guarantee you that you won't regret it, even for a second.

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About Acronis

Acronis is a Swiss company, founded in Singapore. Celebrating two decades of innovation, Acronis has more than 1,800 employees in 45 locations. The Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud solution is available in 26 languages in over 150 countries and is used by 20,000 service providers to protect over 750,000 businesses.

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COMMENTS

  1. The importance of having a business continuity plan

    A business continuity plan, or BCP, refers to the process a company will take to prevent and recover from potential threats to the organization. It ensures personnel and assets are protected and able to function in the event of a disaster, and is generally part of overall risk management ' that is, best practice dictates that you consider your ...

  2. Business Continuity Planning: Why You Need It and Why It Is So Important

    The business continuity plan usually falls under the responsibility of a dedicated role or department, often led by a Business Continuity Manager, who reports to senior leadership. This individual or team is responsible for creating, implementing, and regularly updating the plan to ensure the organization's resilience in the face of disruptions.

  3. The Importance of a Business Continuity Plan

    A business continuity plan gives an organization the ability to maintain essential processes before, during, and after a disaster. Business continuity differs from disaster recovery in its holistic approach to the business.

  4. What is business continuity and why is it important?

    Business continuity planning establishes risk management processes and procedures that aim to prevent interruptions to mission-critical services and reestablish full day-to-day function to the organization as quickly and smoothly as possible.

  5. Why You Need a Reliable Business Continuity Plan

    Why Do I Need a Business Continuity Plan? The importance of a business continuity plan should be clear, but some business owners might be overworked by simply running operations and ensuring solvency. The problem with such thinking is that it's reactive.

  6. Don't underestimate the importance of a business continuity plan

    A comprehensive business continuity plan should be embedded as part of your organizational strategy; without it, you run a high risk of negatively impacting your productivity, reputation, revenue, and more.

  7. How to Ensure You Have the Right Business Continuity Plan in Place

    NFPA 1600 defines the essential elements of a business continuity plan "for preparedness including the planning, implementation, assessment, and maintenance of programs for prevention, mitigation, response, continuity, and recovery.". One of the strengths of 1600 is how it connects all of these elements into an integrated program.

  8. What Is a Business Continuity Plan?

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that sets guidelines for how an organization will continue its operations in the event of a disruption, whether it's a fire, flood, other natural disaster or a cybersecurity incident. A BCP aims to help organizations resume operations without significant downtime.

  9. What Is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP), and How Does It Work?

    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...

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

    1. Operational. Operational continuity means that the systems and processes your business relies on are able to continue functioning without disruption. As these processes are critical to business operations, it's important to have a plan in place in case disruption occurs so you can minimize the loss of revenue. 2.

  11. What is contingency planning?

    What is a contingency plan? Businesses need to have a plan in place to get back on track when a disaster interrupts daily operations. Contingency plans, also known as "business continuity plans," "emergency response plans" and "disaster recovery plans" help organizations recover after a disruption. Whether they're preparing for a ...

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    The plan typically includes measures to ensure the safety of employees, maintain critical operations, and minimize financial and reputational losses during times of crisis, aiming to swiftly recover and resume normal business activities. An effective business continuity plan helps to maintain normal operations during and after a disaster.

  13. Why Business Continuity Planning is Important and Effective?

    The organization's security and safety are strengthened when a good business continuity plan is in place. We recommend Business Continuity Plan Templates to get started. Summary. In this article, we discussed the importance of having a business continuity plan to ensure your organization's survival amidst the unexpected.

  14. Why is Business Continuity Important?

    Published: January 15, 2021 As the events of the last few years have shown us, the need for a business to plan and implement strategies to deal with disruptive events is crucial. In this article, we talk about the importance of business continuity, and the requirements of the standard for it; ISO 22301. ISO's definition of business continuity is:

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    Your organization's BCP should encompass the following: The means to identify the people who can implement the plan. A strategic plan that defines the vision, mission, goals, and objectives of the program as it relates to the policy of the entity. A mitigation plan that establishes interim and long-term actions to eliminate hazards that ...

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  19. What is Business Continuity?

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    5 Benefits of Having a Business Continuity Plan 1. Your business will be more prepared to handle the unexpected. Businesses can't expect employees to know the best ways to react during a crisis situation. Leaving each person to respond in his or her own way will, at best, only add to the confusion and at worst, lead to loss of life.

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