The Business Continuity Plan: Step-by-Step

If you have landed here, you are probably looking for some guidance on how to develop a business continuity plan for your organisation. Business continuity plan development is well within the capabilities of most organisations - teams of external consultants and expensive external training courses are rarely necessary. You know your organisations, it's customers, products and services much better than any outsider, so once you have access to the right guidance and the right tools for the job most organisations find that it is something can do for themselves.  From this website you will able to access free video based training that will guide you through the key stages of business continuity plan development - showing you completed examples of the components of a best in class business continuity plan at every step.

 

Our overriding objective is to make the process of business continuity planning accessible, understandable and straightforward. We do this by avoiding jargon and showing you (rather than just telling you) how to complete the various stages of business continuity plan development. Although developing a business continuity plan is not a trivial task for any organisation, it does not have to be an expensive, complex and protracted exercise   - it can be done with your own internal resources.

 

If you are ready to start - then dive straight in and watch the video - it's roughly ninety minutes long. It's not time limited and you can watch as many times as you like -  it's a completely free guide to the process of developing a business continuity plan. The ninety minute video is divided into 3 modules

  • The main module, "Building the Business Continuity Plan" is just under an hour and will take you through each stage of the business continuity plan development process and show you examples of templates that you can use to ensure that you have captured all of the necessary information in the mosts concise and usable way

  • Module 2 covers Incident or Crisis Management. This is an integral part of a business continuity plan, but whereas a business continuity plan covers the tactical responses required to recover from an operational disruption, Incident or Crisis Management focuses on the organisation that's in place and actions to be taken to protect the organisations brand and reputation during a crisis. 

  • Module 3 takes you through the process of business continuity plan oversight, assurance and awareness and gives you a framework for ensuring that your business continuity plan stays fit for purpose and that everyone in your organisation will know what to do if disaster strikes

When you have completed the course, you can always get help and support with any questions you may have on course content or the business continuity plan templates by using our forum (which again, is free).

If you would like a little more information, there's more  about our approach and principles, the content of the course  and a brief summary of the templates that we feature during the business continuity video in the sections below.

Business Continuity Plan Development Video

 
 

Risk Free Business Continuity Plan Development

 

Many organisations turn to external providers for training and/or consultancy support to get help with developing their business continuity plan.  In so many cases these services don’t quite deliver: training courses require you (and sometimes several colleagues) to sit in classrooms for days and then send you on your way with little more than a pile of presentation slides.  “Getting a consultant in” can often result in paying for work that could have been undertaken by your own staff – if they had access to quality guidance at key stages.  Most organisations are capable of developing business continuity plans on their own – providing their people can get the guidance they need and the tools for the job.

The big concern for many organisations is that they will pay for something that you either do not need or which does not deliver on its promises. Our approach is completely risk free. Our training is completely free - there are no time limited subscriptions or limits on attendees. Use the video as many times as you want (although, a like or a share on YouTube would be greatly appreciated!).  By the way this is not a preachy “why you need a business continuity plan video – it shows you how to create a business continuity plan in a few pratical steps with worked examples of each major part of the plan. You won’t see a “talking head” with a back-drop of bland bullet points - you’ll be receive a detailed walkthrough of an example business continuity plan.

 

As we explain HOW needs to go into a business continuity plan, at the end the end of each stage we will also SHOW you an animated, worked examples of each step - in other words we'll show you what each stage of your business continuity plan should look like   The content shown in the video is supported by a tool-set of business continuity plan templates which you then have the option (but not the obligation) to purchase and download - and, as you will have seen every template in action within the video, you'll know exactly what you are buying. You'll see the button to purchase the templates next to the video.

All of the templates that we show in our free training video are available for download so that you can customise them for your own purposes. Our training video goes through each stage of business continuity plan development, including:

Building the business continuity plan - providing you with a step by step approach to business continuity plan development.  In this module we cover establishing your business continuity priorities, building core capabilities for resilience and response, creating functional (or departmental) business continuity plans and finally communications frameworks which is the "glue" that holds your organisation together when disaster strikes. 

 

Incident management. Is the part of your plan which protects your reputation and brand during a crisis. This part of your business continuity plan will support the initial stages of incident discovery and response, helping you to establish a protocol for escalation and for getting command and control of an incident situation and then deciding which aspects of the business continuity plan need to be activated 

 

The final module, Oversight, assurance & awareness, shows you how to develop a framework that makes sure that your business continuity plan remains up to date and generally fit for purpose.

 

The  video is around 1.5 hours hour long and will walk you through each stage of the business continuity plan development process. Each stage has one or more plan development templates associated with it - each business continuity planning step that we cover has a tool to support it.    On completion of the video you will have all of the knowledge you need to develop a comprehensive business continuity plan for your organisation.  The extensive use of business continuity plan templates accelerates your learning curve, saving you the time and expense of attending external, class-room based training courses.

 

The section below gives a brief description of the topics covered in our business continuity plan development video and an overview of the business continuity plan templates associated with training video . Alternatively, you can now return to watch the video

 

Topics covered in the Business Continuity Plan Video

Module 1 Building the Business Continuity Plan

 

The first stage in developing a business continuity plan is establishing your priorities in the event of a major disruption. Although everyone makes a contribution in an organisation, there are normally several activities that are critical in terms of delivering services and products. This stage looks at identifying those priorities and what needs to be in place so that they can continue to operate.

The second stage is looking at what your current capabilities are in terms of things:  IT recovery, alternative workplaces and any critical equipment that's need so that priority activities can be quickly and effectively recovered. We call this "core capabilities" because these things are generic capabilities within your organisations' infrastructure and these need to be in-line with the recovery needs of priority activities 

Stage three looks at the approach for building departmental business continuity plans for both priority activities and support services (such as HR, Finance etc.). These are developed based on the core capabilities covered in stage 2

The fourth and last stage of Module 1, covers the development of communications frameworks which creates the "glue" that holds the different parts of the plan together. In here we define who communicates with who, when they get involved and how they share information with each other.

Module 2. Incident Management

In this module we look at the crucial initial stages of an incident where it's important to get command and control of a situation and decide which parts of the business continuity plan may need to be activated. We will look at escalation procedures and augment the communications framework to cover incident escalation and external communication activities so that a single communications framework is established to support for the organisations overall business continuity plan.

Module 3. Oversight, Assurance and Awareness

The final module looks at how all the good work that's gone into the development of the business continuity is not wasted and that the plan stays relevant and up to date.  So we'll look at  policy,  maintenance schedules, roles and responsibilities for oversight and how to create an awareness programme that ensures everyone know what to do if a crisis does occur.

That covers the overview of the content of our video for business continuity plan development. Now watch the watch the free business continuity plan training video now

Plan templates used in the Business Continuity Plan Video

 

A good way to visualise a business continuity plan is to think of it as a framework, rather than a huge document that describes a detailed process to be followed. Believe, me no-one uses these gargantuan documents during a crisis, they need information that they can access and understand quickly.  That's why effective business continuity plan development generates several different types of document, some which help later stages of development and some which are used for reference purposes and others - the really important ones that can be used when disaster strikes.  So here's a list and examples of the most important templates that you'll see in our business continuity plan development video:

Priorities Assessment. This is the initial stage of business continuity plan development. Some call it a Business Impact Assessment (or "BIA"), others may refer to it as a risk assessment.  What we decide to call it is less important than what this step actually does which is the process of identifying the most important activities that would want to keep running to keep your customers comfortable and assure the survival of your organisation. Once you have identified what is important you can then start to consider what your overall capabilities are to meet these priorities, especially  in terms of people, premises, IT and other resources. Our plan template for this is based on an excel spreadsheet, this helps you capture the information you need and identify and analyse this information

Core capabilities. It's your core capabilities for recovering IT systems, providing alternative workplace arrangements and acquiring alternative equipment that will determine whether or not your organisation has the intrinsic ability to restore your organisation to an acceptable operational level. This stage draws in colleagues from the areas of the organisation that deliver these core capabilities and captures their feedback on what they can currently provide and whether this is sufficient to meet the organisations business continuity priorities.

Departmental Plans. This is where we get down into the "nitty gritty" of how the organisations activities are restored after certain types of disaster. Having established what can be done in terms of IT systems, alternative working arrangements and equipment, we get to the stage of defining actions plans for specific activities, deciding who does what where and when and who they need to communicate and collaborate with.  These "plans" are working documents that describe key actions, team members, roles and relationships

Communications Framework. This part is the glue that holds together departmental action plans and the core capabilities recovery activities.  Also factored in are communications needs external to the organisation such as suppliers and customers.  The communications framework helps to define who will be responsible for communicating with particular groups and how that communication will be effected.

If you are ever asked the question "Why is a business continuity plan important?"

During the course of developing your business continuity plan you may run into some scepticism and some might this question.  The purpose of a business continuity plan is to keep employees safe and preserve customer and stakeholder relationships during a crisis. Organisations of all sizes have experienced significant operational disruptions and had some unwelcome publicity into the bargain. so if you need a little proof that "accidents happen" our business continuity incidents log (which we update frequently) will help you to demonstrate that business continuity planning is more than just an academic exercise or something you do to keep auditor happy.  The business continuity incidents log is also a useful tool for business continuity plan development because you have the opportunity to look at real-life cases and ask the question "how would we deal that, what would we do in this situation?". This is really helpful when you are in stages two and three of module one as it gives some tangible issues to consider when developing recovery plans.

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RiskCentric | Cambridge, United Kingdom | enquiries@riskcentric.co.uk | Tel: +44 (0)1353 667374

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