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.

business continuity plan email sample

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!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

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

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Blog Business 7 Business Continuity Plan Examples

7 Business Continuity Plan Examples

Written by: Danesh Ramuthi Nov 28, 2023

Business Continuity Plan Examples

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a strategic framework that prepares businesses to maintain or swiftly resume their critical functions in the face of disruptions, whether they stem from natural disasters, technological failures, human error, or other unforeseen events.

In today’s fast-paced world, businesses face an array of potential disruptions ranging from cyberattacks and ransomware to severe weather events and global pandemics. By having a well-crafted BCP, businesses can mitigate these risks, ensuring the safety and continuity of their critical services and operations. To further safeguard their operations, integrating measures to protect against ransomware into their BCP is a natural and essential step.

Responsibility for business continuity planning typically lies with top management and dedicated planning teams within an organization. It is a cross-functional effort that involves input and coordination across various departments, ensuring that all aspects of the business are considered.

For businesses looking to develop or refine their business continuity strategies, there are numerous resources available. Tools like Venngage’s business plan maker and their business continuity plan templates offer practical assistance, streamlining the process of creating a robust and effective BCP. 

Click to jump ahead: 

7 business continuity plan examples

Business continuity types, how to write a business continuity plan, how often should a business continuity plan be reviewed, business continuity plan vs. disaster recovery plan, final thoughts.

In business, unpredictability is the only certainty. This is where business continuity plans (BCPs) come into play. These plans are not just documents; they are a testament to a company’s preparedness and commitment to sustained operations under adverse conditions. To illustrate the practicality and necessity of these plans, let’s delve into some compelling examples.

Business continuity plan example for small business

Imagine a small business specializing in digital marketing services, with a significant portion of its operations reliant on continuous internet connectivity and digital communication tools. This business, although small, caters to a global clientele, making its online presence and prompt service delivery crucial.

Business Consultant Continuity Plan Template

Scope and objective:

This Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is designed to ensure the continuity of digital marketing services and client communications in the event of an unforeseen and prolonged internet outage. Such an outage could be caused by a variety of factors, including cyberattacks, technical failures or service provider issues. The plan aims to minimize disruption to these critical services, ensuring that client projects are delivered on time and communication lines remain open and effective.

Operations at risk:

Operation: Digital Marketing Services Operation Description: A team dedicated to creating and managing digital marketing campaigns for clients across various time zones. Business Impact: High Impact Description: The team manages all client communications, campaign designs, and real-time online marketing strategies. An internet outage would halt all ongoing campaigns and client communications, leading to potential loss of business and client trust.

Recovery strategy:

The BCP should include immediate measures like switching to a backup internet service provider or using mobile data as a temporary solution. The IT team should be prepared to deploy these alternatives swiftly.

Immediate measures within the BCP should encompass alternatives like switching to a backup internet service provider or utilizing mobile data, supplemented by tools such as backup and recovery systems, cloud-based disaster recovery solutions, and residential proxies , while the IT team should be prepared to deploy these swiftly. 

Additionally, the company should have a protocol for informing clients about the situation via alternative communication channels like mobile phones.

Roles and responsibilities:

Representative: Alex Martinez Role: IT Manager Description of Responsibilities:

  • Oversee the implementation of the backup internet connectivity plan.
  • Coordinate with the digital marketing team to ensure minimal disruption in campaign management.
  • Communicate with the service provider for updates and resolution timelines.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan Template

Business continuity plan example for software company

In the landscape of software development, a well-structured Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is vital. This example illustrates a BCP for a software company, focusing on a different kind of disruption: a critical data breach.

Business Continuity Plan Template

Scope and objectives:

This BCP is designed to ensure the continuity of software development and client data security in the event of a significant data breach. Such a breach could be due to cyberattacks, internal security lapses, or third-party service vulnerabilities. The plan prioritizes the rapid response to secure data, assess the impact on software development projects and maintain client trust and communication.

Operation: Software Development and Data Security Operation Description: The software development team is responsible for creating and maintaining software products, which involves handling sensitive client data. In the realm of software development, where the creation and maintenance of products involve handling sensitive client data, prioritizing security is crucial. Strengthen your software development team’s capabilities by incorporating the best antivirus with VPN features, offering a robust defense to protect client information and maintain a secure operational environment. The integrity and security of this data are paramount.

Business Impact: Critical Impact Description: A data breach could compromise client data, leading to loss of trust, legal consequences and potential financial penalties. It could also disrupt ongoing development projects and delay product releases.

The IT security team should immediately isolate the breached systems to prevent further data loss, leveraging data loss prevention tools to further enhance protection. They should then work on identifying the breach’s source and extent. Simultaneously, the client relations team should inform affected clients about the breach and the steps being taken. The company should also engage a third-party cybersecurity or pentest firm for an independent investigation and recovery assistance.

Representative: Sarah Lopez Role: Head of IT Security Contact Details: [email protected] Description of Responsibilities:

  • Lead the initial response to the data breach, including system isolation and assessment.
  • Coordinate with external cybersecurity experts for breach analysis and mitigation.
  • Work with the legal team to understand and comply with data breach notification laws.
  • Communicate with the software development team leaders about the impact on ongoing projects.

Business Continuity Plan Templates

Related: 7 Best Business Plan Software for 2023

Business continuity plan example for manufacturing

In the manufacturing sector, disruptions can significantly impact production lines, supply chains, and customer commitments. This example of a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) for a manufacturing company addresses a specific scenario: a major supply chain disruption.

Business Continuity Plan Template

This BCP is formulated to ensure the continuity of manufacturing operations in the event of a significant supply chain disruption. Such disruptions could be caused by geopolitical events, natural disasters affecting key suppliers or transportation network failures. The plan focuses on maintaining production capabilities and fulfilling customer orders by managing and mitigating supply chain risks.

Operation: Production Line Operation Description: The production line is dependent on a steady supply of raw materials and components from various suppliers to manufacture products. Business Impact: High Impact Description: A disruption in the supply chain can lead to a halt in production, resulting in delayed order fulfillment, loss of revenue and potential damage to customer relationships.

The company should establish relationships with alternative suppliers to ensure a diversified supply chain. In the event of a disruption, the procurement team should be able to quickly switch to these alternative sources. Additionally, maintaining a strategic reserve of critical materials can buffer short-term disruptions. The logistics team should also develop flexible transportation plans to adapt to changing scenarios.

Representative: Michael Johnson Role: Head of Supply Chain Management Contact Details: [email protected] Description of Responsibilities:

  • Monitor global supply chain trends and identify potential risks.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with alternative suppliers.
  • Coordinate with logistics to ensure flexible transportation solutions.
  • Communicate with production managers about supply chain status and potential impacts on production schedules.

Related: 15+ Business Plan Templates for Strategic Planning

BCPs are essential for ensuring that a business can continue operating during crises. Here’s a summary of the different types of business continuity plans that are common:

  • Operational : Involves ensuring that critical systems and processes continue functioning without disruption. It’s vital to have a plan to minimize revenue loss in case of disruptions.
  • Technological : For businesses heavily reliant on technology, this type of continuity plan focuses on maintaining and securing internal systems, like having offline storage for important documents.
  • Economic continuity : This type ensures that the business remains profitable during disruptions. It involves future-proofing the organization against scenarios that could negatively impact the bottom line.
  • Workforce continuity : Focuses on maintaining adequate and appropriate staffing levels, especially during crises, ensuring that the workforce is capable of handling incoming work.
  • Safety : Beyond staffing, safety continuity involves creating a comfortable and secure work environment where employees feel supported, especially during crises.
  • Environmental : It addresses the ability of the team to operate effectively and safely in their physical work environment, considering threats to physical office spaces and planning accordingly.
  • Security : Means prioritizing the safety and security of employees and business assets, planning for potential security breaches and safeguarding important business information.
  • Reputation : Focuses on maintaining customer satisfaction and a good reputation, monitoring conversations about the brand and having action plans for reputation management.

Business Continuity Planning Templates

As I have explained so far, a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is invaluable. Writing an effective BCP involves a series of strategic steps, each crucial to ensuring that your business can withstand and recover from unexpected events. Here’s a guide on how to craft a robust business continuity plan:

Business Continuity And Disaster Recovery Plan Template

1. Choose your business continuity team

Assemble a dedicated team responsible for the development and implementation of the BCP. The team should include members from various departments with a deep understanding of the business operations.

2. Outline your plan objectives

Clearly articulate what the plan aims to achieve. Objectives may include minimizing financial loss, ensuring the safety of employees, maintaining critical business operations, and protecting the company’s reputation.

3. Meet with key players in your departments

Engage with department heads and key personnel to gain insights into the specific needs and processes of each department. This helps in identifying critical functions and resources.

4. Identify critical functions and types of threats

Determine which functions are vital to the business’s survival and identify potential threats that could impact these areas. 

5. Carry on risk assessments across different areas

Evaluate the likelihood and impact of identified threats on each critical function. This assessment helps in prioritizing the risks and planning accordingly.

6. Conduct a business impact analysis (BIA)

Perform a BIA to understand the potential consequences of disruption to critical business functions. It has to be done in determining the maximum acceptable downtime and the resources needed for business continuity.

7. Start drafting the plan

Compile the information gathered into a structured document. The plan should include emergency contact information, recovery strategies and detailed action steps for different scenarios.

8. Test the plan for any gaps

Conduct simulations or tabletop exercises to test the plan’s effectiveness. This testing can reveal unforeseen gaps or weaknesses in the plan.

9. Review & revise your plan

Use the insights gained from testing to refine and update the plan. Continual revision ensures the plan remains relevant and effective in the face of changing business conditions and emerging threats.

Read Also: How to Write a Business Plan Outline [Examples + Templates]

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) should ideally be reviewed and updated at least annually. 

The annual review ensures that the plan remains relevant and effective in the face of new challenges and changes within the business, such as shifts in business strategy, introduction of new technology or changes in operational processes. 

Additionally, it’s crucial to reassess the BCP following any significant business changes, such as mergers, acquisitions or entry into new markets, as well as after the occurrence of any major incident that tested the plan’s effectiveness. 

However, in rapidly changing industries or in businesses that face a high degree of uncertainty or frequent changes, more frequent reviews – such as bi-annually or quarterly – may be necessary. 

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) are two crucial components of organizational preparedness, yet they serve different functions. The BCP is aimed at preventing interruptions to business operations and maintaining regular activities. 

It focuses on aspects such as the location of operations during a crisis (like a temporary office or remote work), how staff will communicate and which functions are prioritized. In essence, a BCP details how a business can continue operating during and after a disruption​​​​.

On the other hand, a DRP is more specific to restoring data access and IT infrastructure after a disaster. It describes the steps that employees must follow during and after a disaster to ensure minimal function necessary for the organization to continue. 

Essentially, while a BCP is about maintaining operations, a DRP is about restoring critical functions, particularly IT-related, after a disruption has occurred​

It’s clear that having a robust and adaptable business continuity plan (BCP) is not just a strategic advantage but a fundamental necessity for businesses of all sizes and sectors. 

From small businesses to large corporations, the principles of effective business continuity planning remain consistent: identify potential threats, assess the impact on critical functions, and develop a comprehensive strategy to maintain operations during and after a disruption.

The process of writing a BCP, as detailed in this article, underscores the importance of a thorough and thoughtful approach. It’s about more than just drafting a document; it’s about creating a living framework that evolves with your business and the changing landscape of risks.

To assist in this crucial task, you can use Venngage’s business plan maker & their business continuity plan templates . These tools streamline the process of creating a BCP, ensuring that it is not only comprehensive but also clear, accessible and easy to implement. 

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16 Business Continuity Plan Templates For Every Business

Download our free Business Continuity Plan Template Download this template

As a business leader, you know that unforeseen events can disrupt your business operations and impact your bottom line. That's why having a solid business continuity plan in place is essential.

But where do you start? That's where we come in. This article provides you with 16 free, customizable business continuity plan templates that are prefilled with examples, making it easy to create a plan that meets your unique needs. Whether you're a small business or a large enterprise, our templates are designed to help you prepare for any contingency.

In addition to the templates, we've included a step-by-step guide on how to create an effective business continuity plan. From identifying risks and critical functions to testing and updating your plan, our guide covers everything you need to know.

Free Template Download our free Business Continuity Plan Template Download this template

General Business Continuity Plan Template

business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

New to business continuity planning? No worries! Our general BCP Template is like a friendly guide—perfect for both newcomers and veterans. Use it to get the ball rolling on your continuity planning initiative and create robust strategies that will keep your business operational in times of crisis.

How to use this template? 👀

1. Sign up to get instant access to your chosen template. (Yes, it’s 100% free.) 

2. Customize the template to fit your needs: 

  • Define your focus areas or strategic priorities 
  • Set strategic objectives  
  • Assign KPIs and owners 
  • Create action plans and projects to achieve your desired outcomes 

3. Integrate all business data in one place for a comprehensive view of performance. 

4. Use reports and dashboards to monitor progress and identify risks before they escalate. 

5. Invite your team members to collaborate and ensure everyone is working toward the same goals. 

👉 Click here to get your FREE Business Continuity Plan Template

💡All templates below follow the same structure. The only difference lies in the pre-filled sample data, making them customized for specific industries and use cases.

Industry-Specific Business Continuity Plan Templates

Hospitality bcp template.

hospitality business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Craft a resilience plan for your hospitality business, including hotels, restaurants, or travel services. This BCP template for Hospitality will help you establish measures to handle potential emergency situations and ensure customer satisfaction.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Hospitality Continuity Plan Template

Manufacturing BCP Template

manufacturing business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Ensure uninterrupted production and operations with this Manufacturing Continuity Plan Template . Use this template to keep your business partner relationships, supply chains, and production lines strong, even when surprises pop up.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Manufacturing Continuity Plan Template

Transportation BCP Template

transportation business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Need a solid game plan for spotting risks early and building strong strategies to manage disruptions in your transportation business? Create your own with the BCP Template for Transportation to maintain timely deliveries and operations.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Transportation Continuity Plan Template

Healthcare BCP Template

healthcare business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

In an industry where lives depend on service reliability, the Healthcare Business Continuity Plan Template helps you build and execute contingency plans to ensure uninterrupted care and handle emergencies effectively.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Healthcare Continuity Plan Template

Retail BCP Template

retail business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Strengthen your retail business's resilience to unforeseen events like global pandemics, supply chain disruptions, or surges in demand. With this Retail BCP Template , establish plans for inventory management, customer service, and store operations.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Retail Business Continuity Plan Template

Pharmaceuticals BCP Template

pharmaceutical business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Keep vital manufacturing and supply chain operations running like clockwork with our Pharmaceuticals BCP Template . This template has everything you need to hit the ground running on your continuity planning. Use it to ensure your business doesn’t miss a beat because of trade disputes, regulations, and recalls.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Pharmaceutical Business Continuity Plan Template

Financial Services BCP Template

financial services business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

The BCP Template for Financial Services is designed to assist financial professionals concerned about their continuity and resilience. Use it to identify and plan strategies to keep your business sailing steady and navigate business continuity management like a seasoned professional.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Financial Business Continuity Plan Template

Telecommunications BCP Template

telecommunications business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Our Business Continuity Plan Template for Telecommunications is ideal for internet service providers, telcos, and MSPs that want to keep their telecommunication services humming along, no matter what. Use it to outline strategies to reduce the risk of disruptions such as new technology, regulatory changes, and cyber-attacks.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Telecommunications Business Continuity Plan Template

IT BCP Template

it business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Create a comprehensive continuity plan for your information technology business with the IT Business Continuity Plan Template . This template will help you formulate and execute strategies for data center security, network downtime planning, and maintaining service levels. 

👉 Click here to get your FREE IT Business Continuity Plan Template

Nonprofits BCP Template

nonprofit business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Ensure that your nonprofit's mission endures through unexpected events and map out your organization's preparedness with the Business Continuity Plan Template for Nonprofits . This template guides nonprofits in developing strategies for funding, communication, and service delivery during crises such as natural disasters. 

👉 Click here to get your FREE Nonprofit Continuity Plan Template

Small Business BCP Template

small business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Build resilience and safeguard your small business to weather uncertainties with the Small Business Continuity Plan Template . With this prefilled template, you’ll be able to kickstart the strategic planning process to build effective recovery procedures and disaster mitigation strategies.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Small Business Continuity Plan Template

Special Focus Templates 

Supply chain continuity template.

supply chain business continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Strengthen the resilience of your supply chain with this Supply Chain Business Continuity Plan Template . Use it to create and track strategies to mitigate risks such as supplier failures, transportation disruptions, and inventory shortages, ensuring a steady flow of goods and services.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Supply Chain Continuity Plan Template

Operational Continuity Plan Template

operational continuity plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Keep your business operations running smoothly, irrespective of unforeseen challenges, with the Operational Continuity Plan Template . With it, you can quickly create an actionable Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) that guarantees your business’s preparedness when disaster strikes.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Operational Continuity Plan Template

Risk Assessment Plan Template

risk assessment plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Risk management is at the heart of any successful continuity planning strategy. Why? Because knowing the risks your organization faces is the first step to preparing for, and effectively navigating unforeseen circumstances. 

If you're ready to start building your BCP, begin with the Risk Assessment Plan Template . This framework is designed to help you pinpoint potential risks, measure their impact, and craft proactive strategies to dodge business disruptions.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Risk Assessment Plan Template

Crisis Communications Plan Template

crisis communications plan template in cascade strategy execution platform

Effectively manage internal and external communications during a crisis with this Crisis Communications Plan Template . Ensure the right messages reach your stakeholders, employees, and customers on time. This will contribute to a well-coordinated response and support your human resources team in managing crisis-related communications effectively.

👉 Click here to get your FREE Communications Plan Template

How To Write A Business Continuity Plan 

A clear business continuity plan helps teams act quickly and effectively, minimizing disruptions to operations. If you want to build a resilient business continuity plan, here's a true-and-tried approach:

1. Identify critical business processes and types of threats

First, figure out which parts of your business are the most important. Why is this so crucial? When things go wrong, you can't keep every part of your business going—it's just not practical.

But, many senior management teams stumble at this stage because they:

  • Take a siloed approach to continuity planning.
  • Misidentify the core processes integral to business success.
  • Exclude critical stakeholders when trying to understand what drives the business.
  • Rely on outdated risk assessments and information for planning.
As PwC puts it, " Businesses struggle to do this well because it’s complex and can involve multiple departments and players. It’s not the usual approach in which business continuity is looked at solely within the siloed functions. ”

To build a resilient BCP, thoroughly examine your business, engage all stakeholders, and really understand your key business functions and processes.

2. Perform a risk assessment

Risk assessments help companies understand potential threats, their severity, and their likelihood. This crucial step aids in prioritizing planning, encourages strategic thinking, and empowers problem-solving abilities.

💡 Check out our article Risk Matrix: How To Use It In Strategic Planning for guidance . 

3. Conduct a Business Impact Analysis and prioritize strategies

A Business Impact Analysis evaluates the possible consequences of risks on your crucial business operations . It’s vital for gathering information, developing appropriate recovery strategies, and setting strategic priorities.

Consider impact such as:

  • Lost or delayed sales and income
  • Increased expenses
  • Regulatory fines
  • Loss of business opportunities
  • Operational setbacks
  • Reputation damage
  • Loss of shareholder confidence
  • Supply chain disruption

4. Build your business continuity plan

Finally, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and turn your research, risk assessment, and business impact analysis into a fully-fledged business continuity plan. 

Your continuity plan should act as a roadmap. It should outline how your organization will keep the gears turning in the face of disruptions.

Here are the key elements: 

  • 🎯 Objectives
  • ⏳ Timelines
  • 🏆 Priorities
  • 👥 Team members
  • 📝 Projects and action plans

If you’re using Cascade strategy templates , you’ll have these vital elements ready and waiting to help you plan faster and better.

💡Don't spend too much time on analysis and planning. There is no such thing as a perfect plan. Instead, focus on the execution and adapt your plan as you go. 

Tips For Writing And Executing Your Business Continuity Plan

Want to create a business that can ride the wave of any disruption? You'll need a fresh take on strategic risk management and continuity planning. The real magic happens when you blend centralized observability and fast execution . 

Creating your plan shouldn't be a one-and-done deal. You need to keep an eye on things and tweak your strategies as needed. This is where Cascade strategy execution platform shines.

Cascade’s customizable dashboards give you real-time insights into your business operations. See the big picture or drill down to team-specific details, all in one place. This helps in identifying issues early and implementing your continuity plan effectively.

example of a dashboard in cascade strategy execution platform

Time is of the essence when a crisis hits. Decision-makers need information fast. Cascade's Reports lets you create concise strategy reports with up-to-date data and charts with a click. No more wasting time on manual reporting.

Continuity planning is an ongoing, iterative process. Risks change, and your strategies should evolve accordingly. With Cascade, you can continuously monitor performance and make necessary adjustments to your business continuity plan in one place.

“Cascade provides our organization with a level of transparency we've never experienced before. Traditionally siloed teams have insight into what other groups are working on, facilitating a new level of engagement and cross-team collaboration.” - Katie B, G2

📚 Recommended reads for more tips and best practices: 

6 Steps To Successful Strategy Execution

Strategic Control Simplified: A 6-Step Process And Tools  

Get Faster Insights And Make Better Decisions With Cascade 🚀

As the world’s #1 strategy execution platform, Cascade cuts through the chaos of running business operations and paves a clear path forward.

Build continuity plans that are data-driven and aligned with your long-term vision.

Cascade helps you diagnose where you stand today and understand the factors affecting your performance, leading to informed and confident decisions.

What’s more, Cascade centralizes visibility over your execution process. This means you can swiftly identify dependencies and potential risks, and act proactively to mitigate them.

Ready to take control? Sign up for a free forever account today or book a 1:1 product tour with one of Cascade’s in-house strategy execution experts.

Business Continuity FAQs

What are the 4 ps of business continuity .

The 4 Ps of business continuity is a way of measuring the impact of disruptions on an organization. They stand for People (the impact on the lives of workers), Processes (the effect on operations), Profits (the impact on revenue generation), and Partnerships (the impact on the enabling business environment).

What is the difference between a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan? 

The main difference between a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan is its purpose. A business continuity plan aims to sustain the critical functions of an organization during disruptions, while a disaster recovery plan outlines the strategy for restoring normal business operations after major disruptions.

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What is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)? Purpose, Template & Examples

  • Marie Laure Troadec Legal Counsel
  • August 29, 2023

Key Takeaways

1.  A business continuity plan is an essential risk management tool that helps organizations proactively prepare for unexpected disruptions and events, ensuring the continuity of critical operations.

2.  By identifying and assessing potential risks and threats to their operations, businesses can develop appropriate response strategies to prevent or minimize disruption during challenging times.

3.  Businesses should avoid certain pitfalls to successfully implement their business continuity plan. These include a lack of employee engagement, an over-reliance on technology, and a failure to test their plans.

4.  By proactively addressing these areas, businesses can increase the chances of successful implementation and execution of their business continuity plans.

Ensuring business continuity is a topic high on the agenda for most businesses and one that has become increasingly paramount in light of recent events: Few things have focused attention on the need to have a contingency plan more than the COVID-19 pandemic. The potential disruption caused by a pandemic, or indeed any other unforeseen event, to a business’s operations can have significant financial, legal, and reputational ramifications that can be mitigated or even prevented if appropriate measures are put in place.

This article delves into the essential elements of a business continuity plan (BCP) and provides valuable guidance on avoiding common pitfalls to help your business implement and execute a robust plan that safeguards your operations.

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan is a risk management strategy that a business implements to protect its operations in the face of an unexpected event or disruption such as a natural disaster, cyberattack, or technological failure. By anticipating and preparing for potential crises or unplanned eventualities, businesses can take preemptive measures to ensure they remain operational and maintain a sense of normalcy despite interruptions.

The business continuity planning process enables businesses to assess potential threats to their operations and identify vulnerabilities that could impact their ability to function effectively. Through the implementation of a business continuity plan, business leaders can swiftly respond to emergencies, minimizing any potential downtime and mitigating the negative effects on their operations. This proactive approach can help businesses navigate challenging situations with relative ease and resilience, ensuring minimal impact on their productivity and profits.

Main Elements of a Business Continuity Plan

A robust and effective business continuity plan will comprise the following key elements that facilitate business resilience and preparedness during uncertain times.

  • Business impact analysis
  • During this phase, a business will identify and assess potential risks and threats to their organization’s operations. A business impact analysis (BIA) assesses the potential consequences of disruptions in critical business functions. This allows businesses to prioritize resources, allocate budgets, and develop strategies to minimize downtime and facilitate recovery.  
  • Recovery strategies
  • This step addresses the risks identified in the BIA by developing appropriate responses to prevent or minimize disruption. Recovery strategies outline the immediate actions required following an incident, those responsible for implementing them and coordinating the allocation of resources.
  • Plan development
  • The plan development phase involves developing the framework of the business continuity plan by establishing the relevant recovery teams, establishing communication channels, creating relocation plans, and gaining management buy-in.
  • Testing and maintenance
  • This phase involves training and testing the relevant teams and systems by conducting exercises to measure the effectiveness of the business continuity plan and identifying areas for improvement. Processes are also established for regularly reviewing and updating the business continuity plan to account for changes in technology, previous incidents, and evolving threats and risks.

Common Business Continuity Plan Pitfalls

To ensure the efficacy of their response during unexpected events or disruptions, organizations should be mindful of common mistakes encountered in the business continuity planning process. 

An awareness of the following issues can help businesses avoid certain pitfalls which could hinder their efforts in this area:

1. Lack of employee engagement

The success of any business continuity plan hinges on an organization’s ability to execute it successfully as even the most comprehensive and detailed plan will fall flat if it is ineffective in real-world situations.

The successful execution of a business continuity plan goes beyond senior management. To ensure business continuity in times of trouble it is essential that those on the ground have also been briefed on contingency measures and are ready to step into action accordingly.  Without adequate employee training and awareness, organizations run the risk of compromising critical business functions leading to further disruptions and losses.

By prioritizing employee engagement and involvement in the business continuity plan, organizations can strengthen and streamline their response efforts ensuring a robust and resilient response to potential disruptions, while fostering a culture of confidence and preparedness within their organization.

2. Overreliance on technology

While technological solutions play a crucial role and should be a feature of any robust business continuity plan, an overreliance on digital services and technical infrastructure can pose potential challenges for organizations. 

Sole or heavy reliance on this area increases the risk of a single point of failure. This is especially pertinent at a time when cyberattacks and data breaches are prevalent creating vulnerabilities in a business’ technological systems, and thereby undermining the effectiveness of its business continuity plan. Unforeseen events such as natural disasters which can lead to infrastructure damage and power outages can also severely compromise an organization’s ability to function effectively during a crisis.

To counter these problems, organizations should incorporate a diverse range of technological and non-technological solutions into their business continuity plan, taking into account manual processes and alternatives that are not solely dependent on digital services. Data backup options should also be put in place to help businesses restore swift operations and minimize extended downtime.

3. Failure to test

Without proper testing, the effectiveness of a business continuity plan remains theoretical rather than proven in practice. Regular testing enables businesses to identify and address any gaps or limitations in their plan, avoiding the risk of critical business functions being left vulnerable in an actual crisis situation.

Through drills, real-life simulations, and tabletop exercises, organizations can learn from real-world incidents, gaining practical insight into the feasibility of their business continuity plans and identifying any areas that require improvement. Regular testing plays a crucial role in helping businesses to optimize their response strategies and ensure resilience and readiness in the face of difficult or unforeseen circumstances.

By proactively addressing and avoiding these common pitfalls, businesses can develop comprehensive business continuity plans that help to bolster their resilience, minimize disruptions, and ensure the continuity of their operations during challenging times.

BCP Template

The precise content of your BCP will depend on the nature of your business. However, below is a useful template for a typical business: 

1. Introduction

  • Purpose: Outline the purpose of the BCP.
  • Scope: Specify which parts of the organization this BCP covers.
  • Assumptions: State any assumptions made during the BCP’s creation.

2. Business Continuity Policy

Outline the company’s policy regarding business continuity. This can include the company’s commitment to employee safety, client service, data protection, etc.

3. Roles and Responsibilities

List the key personnel responsible for executing the BCP:

  • Business Continuity Manager/Coordinator
  • Crisis Communication Team
  • Emergency Response Team
  • IT Recovery Team
  • Employee Assistance Team

4. Risk Assessment

Identify potential risks and threats:

  • Natural disasters
  • Technological failures
  • Security breaches

5. Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

Identify the potential impacts of each threat:

  • Financial impacts
  • Reputational impacts
  • Operational impacts
  • Legal/Regulatory impacts

6. Business Continuity Strategies

Outline strategies for:

  • Data backup and recovery
  • Alternate work locations
  • Communication protocols
  • Supply chain management

7. Incident Response Plan

Details the immediate actions to be taken following an incident:

  • Alert and notification procedures
  • Evacuation procedures
  • Safety checks

8. Recovery Plans

For each critical department/function, provide a detailed plan on how to resume operations:

  • IT systems recovery
  • Resumption of critical business functions
  • Communication with stakeholders

9. Training and Testing

Outline how the plan will be tested and how often, as well as any training programs for employees:

  • Tabletop exercises
  • Full-scale drills
  • Employee training sessions

10. Maintenance and Review

Describe how the plan will be kept current:

  • Regularly scheduled reviews
  • Updates following any changes in the business environment or operations
  • Feedback loop from testing

11. Communication Protocols

Specify how communication will be maintained:

  • Emergency contact lists
  • Communication methods (phone, email, etc.)
  • External communication (with media, stakeholders, etc.)

12. Appendices

  • Resource lists
  • Vendor contacts
  • Floor plans
  • Backup data locations

Business Continuity Plan Examples

If you are looking for some other examples of well-designed BCPs and BCP templates, check out the following: 

  • Durham County Council’s BCP
  • Chisholm & Winch (UK Construction Company)
  • Ready (US Government Disaster Response Resource).

Developing and implementing business continuity plans

Expertise in critical business functions such as compliance, HR management, and global payroll solutions ensures your business can confidently navigate through unexpected challenges or crises. 

Contact us today to learn how we can support your business continuity efforts and provide the stability and peace of mind you need in an ever-changing world. 

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Home » Organizational Change » An Easy-to-Use Business Continuity Plan Sample and Template

An Easy-to-Use Business Continuity Plan Sample and Template

An Easy-to-Use Business Continuity Plan Sample and Template

A business continuity plan sample template is a must-have tool for anyone developing a business continuity plan. 

In this article, we’ll provide a detailed sample template that can be used and modified as needed, regardless of the type of disruption being addressed.

Having a template on hand can greatly simplify the creation of new business continuity plans, as well as emergency response plans, disaster recovery plans, and other continuity plans.

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An Easy-to-Use Business Continuity Plan Sample Template

Continuity plans will vary in length and complexity, depending on the organization’s scale, its industry, and its needs. 

However, the following outline can be customized and applied to a wide variety of circumstances. Each section covered below includes a short description of the section, as well as a list of specific points to address.

General Information

Every business continuity plan should include a section detailing general information about the plan and its purpose. 

Here are a few items to cover:

  • General recovery information, such as contact information for continuity coordinators, recovery site information, and critical dependencies affected by disruptions
  • Types of disruptions, disasters, or emergencies that the continuity plan would address
  • General recovery strategies, which should first aim to protect people, then business processes and assets
  • Which business functions should be recovered, recovery sites, and recovery time frames

This section should only aim to provide a brief summary of the plan, without exploring any of the actual processes or procedures. 

Training and Exercises

A business continuity team will be responsible for the execution of the plan. But change readiness is essential – in order to implement the plan properly, they will need to receive the proper training.

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This section will describe that training in detail, including:

  • The specific goals of the training efforts
  • The types of training that teams will receive
  • Which team members will receive which training
  • When training should be conducted and updated
  • Exercises, drills, and simulations that will offer hands-on practice

Training should occur on a regular basis, in order to ensure that business continuity team members can respond competently and effectively if the plan is executed. Live exercises and drills can be used to simulate disruptions and give team members the chance to demonstrate their abilities. 

Plan Activation Process

This section outlines the actual sequence of actions that will occur at the outset of the continuity plan. 

In this section, it is useful to include:

  • Notification checklists that describe a series of parties to contact at the outset of a response
  • Business continuity team members’ responsibilities 
  • Declaration policies and procedures that describe guidelines for how disruptions will be communicated, the content of those communications, and so forth

Once these items have been completed and the plan has been activated, it is time to begin the core activities associated with this particular continuity plan. 

Recovery and Restoration Procedures

Not every business continuity plan will have the same aim or purpose, though many revolve around disaster mitigation and recovery. 

In such cases, restoration and recovery would be the primary aim of the continuity plan, which would include activities such as:

  • General recovery activities and tasks, as well as the sequence of these tasks and who will be performing them
  • Data retrieval procedures that will be conducted during certain types of IT disruptions
  • Restoration and reconstruction procedures that will aim to rebuild systems and processes
  • Relocation or remote working procedures that can be implemented during natural disasters or other disruptions that impact a workplace

Since these actions are the primary effort that will drive every business continuity effort, it may be tempting to create plans that consist only of these procedures. 

However, it is important to realize that every other section of the continuity plan is equally important – without the proper training, for instance, business continuity teams won’t actually be able to implement the plan successfully. 

Contact Lists

Since business continuity plans should be implemented rapidly, it is important to have contact lists and details on hand. 

These lists can include telephone numbers, email addresses, physical addresses, and other contact details for…

  • Business continuity team members
  • Government agencies
  • Vendors and business partners

Having all of this information will save valuable time and ensure that business teams spend time only on the most important recovery and restoration activities, rather than spending that time searching for and compiling contact details.

Additional Information

An appendix can include other relevant information, such as:

  • Other related business continuity plans, such as emergency response plans and continuity plans that cover other types of disruptions
  • Documents and resources required for the successful implementation of the plan
  • Required forms and reports, such as status reports, communication templates, and expense logs

The proper implementation of recovery and restoration plans can make a big difference in the outcomes and the effectiveness of those efforts. Therefore, the more detail that can be included, the better. 

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How to write a business continuity plan template

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To avoid the common pitfalls associated with growing a successful business, you’ll need to come up with a long-term plan. A business continuity plan template can help you anticipate and avoid disruptions to your company.

Unanticipated threats can wipe out your assets, while risky courses of action can lead to disastrous results. Take the pandemic as an example, which wrought havoc on companies’ plans for growth. In the first year, 43% of businesses temporarily closed , something few could have anticipated.

In this article, we’ll explore why you need a business continuity plan template to help you stay on steady footing, even if the ground beneath you shakes.

Get the template

What is a business continuity plan template?

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a roadmap for long-term success that factors in common pitfalls and risks. A business continuity plan template ensures that you dot your Is and cross your Ts, and craft a reliable plan to handle unexpected events or disasters.

The template will include fields for filling in information on your current resources, recovery procedures when you face critical setbacks, and a list of personnel responsible for addressing such issues.

The primary purpose of business continuity management is to analyze the current status of your company and its state of preparedness for unexpected threats. With it, senior management can find any weak spots in the business and proactively identify solutions to problems that could hinder progress toward your goals. Of course, there are other reasons you’d benefit from this template.

Why use a business continuity plan template?

Reiterating on the above, the main function of the business continuity plans template is to provide a framework for addressing any problems that may arise in various departments and areas of the business.

Without a plan for dealing with roadblocks, your business’s growth can be stunted, or worse, screech to a halt. All it takes is a few missteps or misguided risks to steer your company off course. 90% of small businesses fail within a single year if they can’t resume full operations following an unexpected disaster.

Don’t confuse a BCP with a disaster recovery plan. A BCP doesn’t just outline what to do in case of emergencies, but it presents ideas for recovering full functionality within the business to minimize the impact on growth.

Take your company’s sensitive data as an example. Relying solely on backups to external servers or hard drives could be risky. In your BCP template, you’ll want to detail how you can protect and manage your data in the event of a breach or severe weather conditions. For instance, a hybrid approach, using both a cloud-based solution and a private server, could afford you extra data security and safety.

There were 3,950 confirmed data breaches in 2020 alone, which highlights the dangers of ignoring your data security. The faster you can get back on your feet and recover from cyberthreats or unforeseen events, the easier it’ll be to hold onto your cutting edge and stay a step ahead of the competition.

Those are the benefits in theory, but let’s take a look at specific cases where BCP templates can help.

What are examples of business continuity plan templates?

Depending on your needs, these business continuity templates can provide a little extra inspiration to get started.

Risk assessment template for business continuity

Use a risk assessment table to calculate whether various weather conditions or other events could impact your day-to-day operations. Your business continuity management team could use resources such as this to identify potential threats—however unlikely —to make sure that the company isn’t caught off guard.

screenshot of risk assessment table

( Image Source )

While nobody could have predicted the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Katrina, a rigorous risk assessment system ensures that you have most bases covered, including natural disasters.

Even if your headquarters is sheltered from severe weather conditions, there may be secondary offices or physical data servers in high-risk areas. As such, it’s important to factor in all of your infrastructure to avoid getting blindsided.

Alternate site evaluation template

If you have employees working from home or away from your primary place of work, you can use an alternate site evaluation table to evaluate the possible risks. Have your employees fill out a table like this one so that you have all the relevant contact information on your books in case of an emergency.

screenshot of alternate site evaluation table

This information can help you better understand your employees’ work arrangements and troubleshoot any issues should they come up.

BCP committee table template

Use a simple BCP committee table to determine member’s roles and responsibilities. For each member, you can fill out contact information, along with a list of the main duties they are required to carry out.

screenshot of BCP committee roles table

This will make it easy for the committee members to coordinate for meetings and have a clear action plan for what to do next.

Want a template that lets you do all of this in one document? monday.com has just what the doctor ordered.

monday.com’s business continuity plan template

On the monday.com business continuity plan template, you’ll be able to enter data such as committee member contact details, disaster recovery action plans, and evacuation information.

The template covers all bases regarding potential threats you could encounter as you grow your business. With it, you’ll be able to keep all the information in a single place and enter it in an easy-to-digest way to share with your employees.

Screenshot of monday.com's business continuity plan template

And that’s not all. With monday.com Work OS, your employees can easily share and collaborate on tables and forms, so you can ask for input regarding secondary places of work and contact information. Plus, managers can access this information from anywhere, allowing them to see crucial details at a glance for better preparation.

Part of business continuity planning is ensuring your sensitive data is secure, so you’ll appreciate that monday.com protects your information with permission-based access. Only those in the BCP committee will be privy to the plans unless you wish to grant access to other employees.

If you want to expand beyond the BCP and really detail how you’ll deal with potential disasters and risks, we’ve got a few templates for you.

Related templates from monday.com

Let’s take a look at a few templates that are related to a business continuity plan template.

Disaster recovery template

A Disaster Recovery Template falls under the scope of the business continuity plan committee. It’s just what it sounds like: a comprehensive plan for necessary actions if disaster strikes. More specifically, the plan should inform your approach for getting systems back online when they go down.

In this disaster recovery template, you can include everything from cyber-attacks and data breaches to worldwide pandemics or natural disasters. You can integrate these reports into your overall BCP to get a comprehensive overview of your recovery plans.

Operating functions template

An operating functions template gives you an idea of how you can cut costs in various processes and workflows. It can also inform how you can implement more sustainable business practices and initiatives.

Check out these different operations templates from monday.com that can be used with the BCP template to outline potential risks associated with new initiatives and suggested changes to work processes.

Program risk register

The Program Risk Register Template is for the early-stage process of identifying and evaluating potential risks to your business. It complements the business continuity plan template well — you can focus on valid, severe, likely risks in your BCP, and have a separate table for risks of all likelihoods and potential levels of impact.

FAQs about business continuity plan templates

How do you write a business continuity plan.

You can write a business continuity plan by first listing the various departments of your company and what risks or threats they might face. From there, you can assess the likelihood of these threats coming to fruition. Once you have an idea of the probability of the various threats to your company, you can prioritize them.

With a prioritized list, you can start with the most pressing threat and proactively brainstorm what actions you could take if it were to arise. The purpose of the BCP is to shield your company against anything that could hinder your progress. Coming up with potential solutions for addressing hypothetical problems can prepare you for real ones in the future.

What is a small business continuity plan?

A small business continuity plan is a document that details potential risks and threats to a small business. It’s well worth creating such a document as a small business owner, as it can save you from disaster as you strive to scale the company.

For small businesses, any hitch can prove disastrous. 38.8% of US-based small businesses were affected by supply chain issues in 2021, which, for some, would have impeded growth significantly. Over-reliance on foreign suppliers could be an example of an unnecessary risk that, without being addressed, could spell disaster for a small business.

With the business continuity plan in place, you can protect your business in its most vulnerable state of growth. The plan forces you to think laterally about the threats that could sink your business. That way, you can make necessary course corrections and increase your chances of long-term survival.

What is an example of a business continuity plan?

An example of a business continuity plan is to plan out how you’ll protect your app’s uptime in the event something happens to one data center: for example, running a clone in AWS you can always fall back on.

What are the 3 elements of business continuity?

The three most vital elements within business continuity are resilience, recovery, and contingency.

  • Resilience: how you’ll make it as hard as possible for critical functions to fail.
  • Recovery: how you’ll get back to normal operations if disaster strikes.
  • Contingency: what you’ll do if plan A for recovery fails.
  • Project risk management

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Business Continuity Plan

A business continuity plan (BCP) is an essential business document that outlines how a business will continue its critical functions during and after an emergency event or disruption in business.

Emergency events can also include natural disasters, workplace violence, utility failures, cyber-attacks, supply shortages, economic downturns, or any event that will result in the disruption of business processes.

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The COVID-19 Pandemic:

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is a real-world example of an emergency situation in which a business continuity plan should be instituted.

Business Continuity Plan Template Download

Download this business continuity plan template in MS Word format and start using it straight away.

Why is it Important To Have a Business Continuity Plan?

In times of crisis, having a business continuity plan in place will ensure your business is able to function, before, during, and after an emergency event.

A BCP will clearly outline the people and procedures involved in running your business when the worst happens. A Busines Continuity Plan is beneficial because:

  • It is required by many business regulators, investors, and stakeholders.
  • It provides a sense of security for managers and staff.
  • It will allow your business to provide reasonable service to your customers during and after an emergency.
  • It will allow you to preserve your revenue stream and your reputation.
  • It can provide additional insight into your organization.

What Should Be Included In A Business Continuity Plan:

Business continuity plans are as varied and complex as businesses themselves. Every plan is different and should be based on the needs of your company and your customers. Here are a few general examples of what a BCP should include:

  • The scope and purpose of your plan.
  • Your plan's goals and objectives.
  • A comprehensive list of tasks required to keep your operations going.
  • The roles and responsibilities of your BCM team and your staff.
  • The contact information for management and key BCM staff.
  • Maintenance protocols for your plan.
  • Information about site and data backups.
  • Information on where to go in an emergency.
  • Procedures to coordinate with emergency personnel.

How to Build a Business Continuity Plan:

A step-by-step guide to creating a business continuity plan.

Identify the scope of your plan.

Perform a regulatory review..

Before you create your business continuity plan, first consider the expectations and regularity standards that come from external stakeholders including investors, external partners, and auditors.

Identify the objectives of your plan.

When creating a comprehensive business continuity plan, a key step is to identify the objectives of your plan and then set goals accordingly. Here you should be considering how detailed your plan should be and which departments and staff members should be involved.

Define the outcome of your plan.

When creating the scope of your plan, you should also define the successful outcome of your plan and which milestones should be tracked during an emergency.

Form the business continuity management team.

Decide on the size of your team..

The business continuity management team is responsible for implementing and executing your BCP. The size of your team is dependent on the size of your company and the way in which you plan on rolling out your program.

Identify your key business areas and critical functions.

Complete a risk assessment..

The next step is to perform a detailed risk assessment on your company. A risk assessment allows you to understand the physical, financial, reputational, and operational risks to your company should a major disruption occur.

Have your team create a detailed list of threats and risks that would impact your business and rate them according to the likelihood of occurrence and severity. Examples of risks and exposures include:

  • Natural disasters.
  • Global pandemics.
  • Staffing shortages.
  • Cyber attacks.
  • Single point disruptions.
  • Disruptions to the supply chain.
  • Political instability.

Conduct a business impact analysis.

A business impact analysis will help you identify your business's core needs and determine the potential impact resulting from the disruption of business. Examples of impacts to consider include:

  • Increase in customer dissatisfaction.
  • Damage to company reputation.
  • Loss of sales or income.
  • Loss of equipment or data.
  • Delay or loss of new business.
  • Regulatory fines.

Identify your business processes and determine which would cause the most damage to the company if they were to fail. Classify each of these functions or processes as either:

Find out which business objectives they support, how often they occur, which departments they affect, and what other aspects of the business are dependent on these to function? Your BIA report should document the potential impact resulting from business disruptions and provide information that can be used in your recovery strategies.

Create an incident response plan.

Outline your operations plan..

This should be the most comprehensive section of your business continuity plan. You can break down operations activities into prevention strategies, response strategies, and recovery strategies.

Come up with prevention strategies.

In this section, you should detail any preventative measures that should be taken before a disruption occurs. This may include creating remote work solutions for your employees, having backup utility providers, alternative network resources, data backups, and server backups.

Detail response strategies.

Response strategies are needed when there is an emergency or sudden disruption of business. This section should detail what each member of your business continuity team should do in the event of an emergency. This includes evacuation procedures, safety protocols, and staff communications.

Plan your recovery strategies.

Recovery strategies ensure that critical business processes are restored after an emergency event or major disruption in business. Your plan should have a detailed description of the actions necessary to keep your business functional until all personal, systems, and facilities are operational again.

Develop a training curriculum.

Implement a training curriculum..

Once your business continuity plan is complete, it is important to implement a training curriculum for your business continuity management team and your company employees. Training should include a basic overview of your BCP as well as relevant and tactical exercises designed to test your continuity procedures.

It may be worth staging a mock emergency to establish the efficacy of your plan and highlight areas of improvement.

Conduct annual reviews.

Review and update your plan..

As your business grows and changes so should your business continuity plan. It is important to conduct annual reviews of your BCP to ensure that it aligns with your current processes and requirements. Updates should be made to evacuation procedures, staff contacts, and communication methods as needed.

Business Continuity Management Services:

For larger businesses, it may be worth employing the services of a business continuity consulting and management company to review your BCP. These services may include:

  • A comprehensive assessment of your current business continuity plan.
  • Gap analysis.
  • Recommendations and long-term planning.
  • Annual updates.
  • Training exercises.

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What is a business continuity plan?

A business continuity plan is a document detailing how your business will continue to function during an emergency or major disruption of business.

What is the primary goal of business continuity planning?

To minimize the damage to your business in the event of an emergency or disruption of business.

What does a business continuity plan typically include?

  • The scope, purpose, and policy of your plan.

Is business continuity the same as disaster recovery?

No, disaster recovery is part of a business continuity plan which is designed to ensure that your business stays functional before, during, and after an emergency. Disaster recovery focuses on restoring operations after a major disruption in business.

When should I update a business continuity plan?

Your business continuity plan should be reviewed and updated annually or whenever you make major changes to your production processes.

Related Articles:

Disaster recovery plan, recruiting strategies, life-sustaining businesses, what is full life cycle recruiting, what is strategic staffing.

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Home Business Business Continuity Plan

Business Continuity Plan Template

Use a business continuity plan to outline how your business will continue to operate in a range of disaster scenarios.

Business Continuity Plan Template

Updated December 18, 2023 Written by Sara Hostelley | Reviewed by Brooke Davis

A business continuity plan outlines the instructions and procedures a business should follow after a natural disaster or disruptive event so it can resume its operations. Events like floods and fires can interrupt your business practices, so it’s essential to have a plan in place to handle these situations and effectively get back to work.

What Is a Business Continuity Plan?

When to use a business continuity plan, benefits of a business continuity plan, elements of a business continuity plan, different types of business continuity plans, activities to complete before writing a business continuity plan, how to write a business continuity plan, business continuity plan sample.

A business continuity plan is a document establishing your organization’s strategies for dealing with a disaster. These procedures help you resume business quickly and reduce downtime and lost revenue.

It covers essential processes like protecting assets, handling human resources issues, and dealing with business partners.

Business Continuity Planning vs. Disaster Recovery Planning

An effective business continuity plan helps a company continue its overall operations after a catastrophe, while a disaster recovery plan focuses on reviving a business’s IT-related functions.

Creating a business continuity plan before you need it can help you prepare for the unexpected. It helps you be proactive so you don’t have to devise a plan amidst a disaster.

Once your continuity plan is in place, you may need to implement it during disasters like:

  • Cyberattacks
  • Natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, and floods
  • Major IT or internet disruptions
  • Pandemics or health crises
  • Supply chain disruptions
  • Man-made disasters or times of social unrest

While a business plan guides your company’s everyday operations, a business continuity plan helps you resume company activities after severe disturbances.

Explore the benefits of a business continuity plan for your company:

Better Decision-Making

A BCP offers a structured framework for employees to make decisions during high-stress situations. Clear protocols and communication methods help your business continuity management team make rational decisions, which can promote confidence and encourage action among employees.

A More Efficient Return to Normal Business Operations

A BCP could make the difference between continued operations and further turmoil in an emergency. Returning to business operations quickly can prevent customers from seeking out competing businesses.

A business continuity plan template makes planning for contingencies in various scenarios easy and addresses the most critical roles and responsibilities necessary for keeping your company running.

Above all, a BCP limits confusion during critical situations and orients employees to the primary focus.

Increased Employee Safety

BCPs prioritize employees’ safety and well-being during emergencies. These plans include guidelines for remote work so employees don’t have to be near the disaster site. They also contain protocols for communicating with one another and evacuating plans in case a disaster happens during work hours.

A Reduction in Lost Time and Revenue

Unmitigated disruptions can financially weaken an organization quickly. Business continuity plans account for all factors necessary for continued operations. The more effort you put into planning, the more time and money you can save.

So, ensure a reliable backup plan for essential systems and enable remote access to customer, product, and company data to keep the revenue stream flowing.

Ability to Quickly Implement IT Fixes

Natural and manufactured disasters typically involve system disruptions. To remain functional, build redundancy into your critical systems. This proactivity will allow you to implement essential fixes to hardware and software assets.

Increased Organizational Resilience

A BCP prepares a company to encounter any challenges it may face. It lets the company’s employees adapt strategies as necessary and work towards continuous improvements, allowing the company to experience long-term success no matter the obstacles it encounters.

Explore some essential elements in a business continuity plan:

  • Business Impact Analysis: Determine how a disaster would impact your business’s operations.
  • Risk Assessment: Identify the risks that may disrupt your business’s processes.
  • Business Continuity Strategy: Detail the steps you’ll take to keep your company running if an interruption occurs. Tailor this strategy to your business’s needs.
  • Recovery Team: Include members from across key departments in your recovery team.
  • Training: Define training procedures to ensure all members have sufficient knowledge relating to emergency protocols.
  • Business Continuity Exercises: Create simulations to practice how your business continuity team would react in an emergency.
  • Communication: Establish methods for distributing information internally and externally.
  • Backup Locations and Physical Assets: List backup locations for conducting business operations if the primary location isn’t usable. Summarize the equipment you’ll need to continue operations.
  • Periodic Review and Recommendations: Include policies for reviewing and updating your plan. Accept recommendations from employees to improve the plan’s efficiency.
  • Technology: Describe the processes for retaining access to technology systems. Detail the importance of having emergency power and data backup procedures in place.

While a business continuity plan can cover various recovery strategies for specific events, it prioritizes one event. Explore some of the types of business continuity plans:

  • Scope: Emphasize the restoration of normal business activities.
  • Objective: To prepare for an unforeseen emergency.
  • Scope: Focus on the recovery of IT data, systems, and infrastructure.
  • Objective: To reduce downtime and data loss by quickly restoring IT services if they go down.
  • Scope: Address communication methods and strategies after a crisis.
  • Objective: To provide clear and timely communication to internal and external stakeholders, ensuring the accurate sharing of information.
  • Scope: Involve the supply chain’s continuity, including procurement, manufacturing, and distribution.
  • Objective: To limit supply chain disruptions and maintain the availability of services and goods.
  • Scope: Address the continuity of physical facilities, including warehouses, manufacturing plants, and offices.
  • Objective: To ensure the availability of operational facilities or other locations during critical events.
  • Scope: Focus on employees’ well-being and safety.
  • Objective: To maintain workforce availability and set up guidelines for remote work if possible.
  • Scope: Involve continuity plans for key third-party parties, including partners, suppliers, and vendors.
  • Objective: To account for the company’s dependencies on external parties and minimize associated disruptions.
  • Scope: Address regulatory requirements relating to business continuity.
  • Objective: To ensure compliance with industry standards and legal regulations.

Explore some activities to complete before writing a business continuity plan so you can create a more effective document:

1. Decide on a Writing Team

Decide on a team to write the plan. Find employees knowledgeable about various business processes so they can assign tasks accordingly.

Ask for employees’ input to create control and command teams. Appoint several people to be in charge during a crisis so they can have one another’s support. Establish a clear chain of command to minimize arguments and promote efficiency.

Nominate a team leader and a backup team leader for each department within your company. Consider recruiting third-party representatives to assist with coordinating specific activities during disasters.

2. Conduct Critical Function Analysis

Analyze your company’s critical business functions. Determine which functions it can and can’t exist without. This way, you can more easily determine what to prioritize in an emergency.

Determine how losing these functions across different departments might impact external and internal operations.

3. Analyze Potential Risks

Analyze potential risks depending on the nature of your business. Specific threats might be more imminent than others, so you can create visual representations, such as risk maps, to show the relationship between the impact and likelihood of your proposed risks.

From here, you can pinpoint high-priority risks that will require immediate attention.

4. Determine the Plan’s Scope

Determine whether the plan applies to specific departments, one location, or your entire company. Figure out what resources and critical functions you must maintain to successfully implement the plan.

5. Brainstorm Recovery Procedures

Use your risk assessment and critical function analysis to brainstorm how your team should react to a business disruption. Think about the timing for what must occur before, during, and after the business continuity planning process.

Step 1 – Write Your Company’s Information

Write your company’s information, including its name, address, and phone number. Include the name of the person writing the plan and the date you last revised it.

Company Information business continuity template

Step 2 – Define the Document’s Purpose

Define the document’s purpose, restating that the document is to establish procedures for the execution and recovery of business activities for your specific company. Check off the specific events you want to plan for.

Purpose business continuity plan template

Step 3 – Outline the Applicability

Clarify the applicability of the document. State which operations the document applies to, including the operation’s name, description, and impact on the business.

Applicability business continuity plan template

Step 4 – Define the Recovery Strategies

Define the recovery strategies for all the events you’ve outlined. Explain the recovery procedure and resource requirements for each event, such as a natural disaster, fire, epidemic, pandemic, technical issue, cyberattack, supply chain disruption, business site disruption, labor strike, or civil unrest.

Recovery business continuity plan template

Step 5 – Name Your Recovery Team

Name your recovery team, including a team and an alternate team lead. These individuals will restore and maintain business continuity and ensure the document’s compliant execution. Include each member’s name, role, email, phone number, and responsibilities.

Recovery team business continuity plan template

Step 6 – Detail Processes for Vendor Communication

Designate a person who will be responsible for contacting vendors and partners. This way, external parties key to the business’s functions will know what’s going on and the plan for continued operation.

External Vendors business continuity plan template

Step 7 – Name an Internal Communicator

Name an internal communicator, providing their name, email, phone number, and roles within the organization. This person will provide all employees with business-wide updates as the appropriate teams implement the continuity plan.

Internal Communicator business continuity plan template

Step 8 – Describe Relocation Procedures

Describe relocation procedures, including backup offices and methods for obtaining equipment and assets for relevant business activities. Provide an estimated timeline for a transition back to normal operations.

Relocation business continuity plan template

Step 9 – Write Testing Procedures

Write testing procedures to occasionally examine the BCP’s effectiveness. This way, the company can make updates to improve the plan’s effectiveness.

Testing business continuity plan template

Step 10 – Outline Deactivation Procedures

Outline deactivation procedures so your team knows when your company has officially restored its normal operations.

Deactivation business continuity plan template

Step 11 – Provide Exceptions

Write exceptions so your team knows when the business continuity plan doesn’t apply. For example, the plan might not apply if business operations can restore themselves within a certain number of hours.

Exceptions business continuity plan template

Download a business continuity plan template below in PDF or Word format:

Business Continuity Plan Template

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Organize a business continuity team and compile a  business continuity plan  to manage a business disruption. Learn more about how to put together and test a business continuity plan with the videos below.

Business Continuity Plan Supporting Resources

  • Business Continuity Plan Situation Manual
  • Business Continuity Plan Test Exercise Planner Instructions
  • Business Continuity Plan Test Facilitator and Evaluator Handbook

Business Continuity Training Videos

The Business Continuity Planning Suite is no longer supported or available for download.

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Business Continuity Training Introduction

An overview of the concepts detailed within this training. Also, included is a humorous, short video that introduces viewers to the concept of business continuity planning and highlights the benefits of having a plan. Two men in an elevator experience a spectrum of disasters from a loss of power, to rain, fire, and a human threat. One man is prepared for each disaster and the other is not.

View on YouTube

Business Continuity Training Part 1: What is Business Continuity Planning?

An explanation of what business continuity planning means and what it entails to create a business continuity plan. This segment also incorporates an interview with a company that has successfully implemented a business continuity plan and includes a discussion about what business continuity planning means to them.

Business Continuity Training Part 2: Why is Business Continuity Planning Important?

An examination of the value a business continuity plan can bring to an organization. This segment also incorporates an interview with a company that has successfully implemented a business continuity plan and includes a discussion about how business continuity planning has been valuable to them.

Business Continuity Training Part 3: What's the Business Continuity Planning Process?

An overview of the business continuity planning process. This segment also incorporates an interview with a company about its process of successfully implementing a business continuity plan.

Business Continuity Training Part 3: Planning Process Step 1

The first of six steps addressed in this Business Continuity Training, which detail the process of building a business continuity plan. This step addresses how organizations should “prepare” to create a business continuity plan.

Business Continuity Training Part 3: Planning Process Step 2

The second of six steps addressed in this Business Continuity Training, which detail the process of building a business continuity plan. This step addresses how organizations should “define” their business continuity plan objectives.

Business Continuity Training Part 3: Planning Process Step 3

The third of six steps addressed in this Business Continuity Training, which detail the process of building a business continuity plan. This step addresses how organizations should “identify” and prioritize potential risks and impacts.

Business Continuity Training Part 3: Planning Process Step 4

The fourth of six steps addressed in this Business Continuity Training, which detail the process of building a business continuity plan. This step addresses how organizations should “develop” business continuity strategies.

Business Continuity Training Part 3: Planning Process Step 5

The fifth of six steps addressed in this Business Continuity Training, which detail the process of building a business continuity plan. This step addresses how organizations should define their “teams” and tasks.

Business Continuity Training Part 3: Planning Process Step 6

The sixth of six steps addressed in this Business Continuity Training, which detail the process of building a business continuity plan. This step addresses how organizations should “test” their business continuity plans. View on YouTube

Last Updated: 12/21/2023

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10 Free Continuity Plan Templates in Word & ClickUp

Praburam Srinivasan

Growth Marketing Manager

February 13, 2024

Does your business have a plan when disaster strikes? Whether it’s a natural disaster or a PR crisis, having a ready-made playbook on hand will help you come out stronger on the other side of any emergency. 💪

While few businesses can predict a big disaster like the pandemic, companies with a recovery procedure in place can be better positioned to act faster in the future. When you invest in a business continuity plan (BCP), you can keep your team safe, avoid business disruptions, and protect your brand image. 

A business continuity plan covers all the potential emergency situations that could impact your business. But it takes time to create a solid continuity plan—and you need to focus your energy on the meat of the plan, not on formatting. 

Fortunately, BCP templates make it a breeze to quickly create contingency plans that leave no stone unturned. 🔍

In this guide, we’ll explain what a continuity plan template is, explain the key components of a BCP template, and share our top 10 free business continuity plan templates.

What Is a Continuity Plan Template?

What are the key components of a business continuity plan template, 1. clickup business continuity plan template, 2. clickup contingency plan template, 3. clickup probability and impact matrix template, 4. clickup business impact analysis template, 5. clickup priority matrix whiteboard template, 6. clickup emergency plan template, 7. clickup workplace emergency action plan template, 8. word business continuity plan template by disaster recovery plan template, 9. word small firm business continuity plan template by finra.org, 10. word business continuity plan template by legaltemplates.

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A continuity plan template is a structured document that helps your business continue operating even during an emergency. 

At its core, a continuity plan template is all about preparedness. Whether you’re facing a natural disaster like a tornado or a human-made outage from a cyberattack, a BCP template gives you a roadmap to minimize business disruption and downtime. 

This isn’t just for big enterprises, either. Small businesses are more susceptible to disasters because they have fewer resources, so it’s extra important for small businesses to create a continuity plan.

The downside is that creating a BCP takes time and resources, which is why so many businesses don’t have one. Luckily, following a ready-made template can shave hours off the BCP creation process. It also helps you look at several facets of disaster preparedness so you’re less likely to overlook something important.

Every business has a different definition of what constitutes an “emergency.” The good news is that you’ll still be able to follow the same emergency management formula with the right template. A solid business continuity plan should include these components at a minimum:

  • Table of contents : List all sections in the template—with jump links—for easy access
  • Introduction: Introduce the BCP’s purpose and scope. It’s also important to distinguish when you need to use this plan and when it’s time to contact emergency services instead
  • Risk assessment : This section should identify potential threats that could affect your business. It should include a business impact analysis to measure how damaging that particular risk would be to your company
  • Recovery strategies: Once you understand the potential risks, you can create a strategic plan for recovery. Check with your legal team to see if there are regulatory requirements for this step
  • Stakeholder roles and contact information : List all team members and their emergency contact phone numbers. Include relevant contacts in human resources (HR), information technology (IT), and the management team. The plan should also specify which stakeholders are in charge of each part of the plan
  • Communication plan : Specify how you’ll share information with staff members, senior management, business partners, and the public

10 Free Continuity Plan Templates

A business continuity plan keeps your business running even when the going gets tough. Creating a plan takes time, but with the right template, you can streamline formatting and get straight to the good stuff. Check out these 10 free continuity plan templates to speed up the continuity plan creation process. ⚡

ClickUp's Business Continuity Plan Templates

Equipment failures, pandemics, and natural disasters wreak havoc on any business. You need a flexible business plan that works even when the worst happens. That might mean you’re only performing critical business functions, but that’s better than nothing, right?

You can’t predict every potential disaster, but the ClickUp Business Continuity Plan Template is the next best thing to a magic crystal ball. 🔮

It includes several helpful sections for:

  • Risk assessment
  • Recovery strategies
  • Process testing and reviews

This template even includes pretty visualizations and colors to draw your attention to the right places. Create custom statuses, fields, and views to make the template your own. 

The ClickUp Business Continuity Plan Template also integrates with your ClickUp project management tools so you can generate tasks, track time, create dependencies, and more without leaving your BCP template. 🤩

Continuity Plan Templates: ClickUp Contingency Plan Template

A contingency plan is different from a continuity plan. This type of BCP template identifies potential risks, lists possible solutions, and gives your team a strategic plan to respond to the most likely disruptions. 

The ClickUp Contingency Plan Template gives your team an expert framework for:

  • Analyzing risks
  • Setting goals and desired outcomes
  • Finding resources and personnel for executing a contingency plan
  • Testing all alternative scenarios

The great thing about this template is that it provides a process for creating a unique contingency plan tailored to the risks you care about the most. It also identifies team members’ responsibilities and tasks for every scenario, making your next steps crystal clear. 

Continuity Plan Templates: ClickUp's Probability and Impact Matrix Template

We saw firsthand how easily a pandemic can cause massive business disruptions. But some disasters are more (and less) likely to have an impact on your business. 

For example, if you’re in the Midwest, hurricanes probably aren’t on your radar. However, if your supply chain relies on materials brought in from the coast, you’re probably going to care a lot about hurricanes. 🌀

The ClickUp Probability and Impact Matrix Template will help you sort through which risks are most likely to disrupt your business. It even ranks these risks in terms of potential damage to help you prioritize your time and resources. This way, you prep for the most damaging (and likely) emergencies first. 

This template is a must-have if your team struggles to make informed decisions or prioritize tasks. This business continuity plan template even includes a simple visualization you can share with other team members to make informed group decisions in less time. 🙌

Continuity Plan Templates: ClickUp's Business Impact Analysis Template

A business impact analysis (BIA) identifies potential risks to your company. Once you identify the risks, the BIA logs all of the action plans you can activate in case of an emergency.

For starters, log every potential emergency in an issue tracking template . From there, use the ClickUp Business Impact Analysis Template to quickly plug in criteria like financial impact, brand reputation, customer experience, and more. ✨

This continuity plan template helps teams get out of unproductive cycles of anxiety by focusing on plan activation. Instead of going with your gut in a crisis, this rubric-style template supports calm, objective decisions using quantified data.

ClickUp's Priority Matrix Whiteboard Template

Once you know the higher-priority emergencies that could affect your business, you might still need help prioritizing which ones to address first. Use the ClickUp Priority Matrix Whiteboard Template to get clarity on which disaster plans and tasks you should execute first. 

You can use this template during the planning phase of creating a continuity plan or even when a disaster strikes. The Priority Matrix gets your team on the same page, ranks the urgency of various tasks, and visualizes everything for your group in a pretty graph. 📊

ClickUp's Emergency Plan Template

Every business continuity plan template should contain an emergency plan of some kind. The ClickUp Emergency Plan Template is useful not only for your continuity plan, but also for emergency signage throughout your building. 

You’re free to customize the plan to your liking, but out of the box, the template includes:

  • Evacuation plans
  • Escape routes
  • Assembly points
  • Roles of key personnel
  • Step-by-step procedures for different emergencies

Some businesses make a single emergency plan while others will need to create multiples. For example, you can create an emergency plan for fires and a separate one for tornadoes. 🌪️

Keep in mind that local, state, or federal laws will apply to emergency signs. Check with your legal team to ensure you display these signs per those requirements. 

ClickUp's Workplace Emergency Action Plan Template

Some business continuity plan templates are designed for protecting business operations or the public, but it’s important to have a plan for protecting your employees too. The ClickUp Workplace Emergency Action Plan Template helps you do just that. 

This is a more in-depth emergency plan that helps you:

  • Communicate quickly and clearly with employees during all types of emergencies
  • Define who is in charge of what in an emergency—before the emergency actually happens
  • Store all emergency plans in one secure place

An emergency plan is great because it equips your employees with the skills and knowledge required to rise above an emergency. Some insurance carriers require businesses to have a documented emergency plan, so this can also help you secure coverage. 🌻

ClickUp is an all-in-one workplace solution, so storing your emergency action plan in the same platform as your tasks and chats makes it more accessible for the entire team.

Continuity Plan Templates: Word Business Continuity Plan Template

Are you a Microsoft company? Then you’ll love the Word Business Continuity Plan Template by Disaster Recovery Plan Template. It’s a publicly available version of MIT’s Business Continuity Plan, so you can trust that it covers all your bases. 

This free continuity plan template includes sections for:

  • Introduction
  • Design of the plan
  • Organization of disaster response and recovery
  • Business continuity plan
  • Team management procedures
  • Recovery procedures, including a notification list

Downloads are available for Word and Adobe PDF, but the template’s text is available on the website if you don’t want to download it.

Word Small Firm Business Continuity Plan Template by FINRA.org

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) regulates the investment industry. Investments are all about risk management, so it’s no surprise that FINRA released a free Small Firm Business Continuity Plan Template .

A continuity plan is required if you’re a small brokerage firm or if you’re otherwise required to follow FINRA guidelines. Instead of wondering whether you’re compliant, follow FINRA’s continuity plan template for more peace of mind. 🧘

It includes sections for:

  • Emergency contact personnel
  • Office locations and alternate sites
  • Firm policies
  • Financial and operational assessments
  • Mission critical systems
  • Regulatory reporting
  • Updates and annual reviews

You should still tailor the template to your unique needs, but the template will help you save a lot of time.

Word Business Continuity Plan Template by LegalTemplates

LegalTemplate’s Word Business Continuity Plan Template is no-frills, but it includes all the information you need to create your own business continuity plan.

We like that the site actually takes you through a structured process to create an incident response plan (IRP), emergency response plan (ERP), supply chain continuity plan, and other types of continuity plans that you might need.

LegalTemplates also throws in a few helpful tips for tracking your continuity plan goals over time . They say you need to review the checklist twice a year, practice implementing everything once a year, and do a formal revamp of your continuity plan every other year.

Improve Business Processes With ClickUp

Business continuity management is a must-have for businesses of all sizes. Whether it’s a natural disaster or other emergency, you need a plan long before the worst happens. 

Rely on this list of free continuity plan templates to create a disaster recovery plan that helps you get back to normal business operations more quickly. 👔

Templates are helpful, but wouldn’t it be better if you could store your templates alongside your Tasks, Projects, Docs, Whiteboards, and more?

ClickUp combines all your work into one platform to save time and eliminate the hassles of switching platforms. See the ClickUp difference for yourself: Create your free ClickUp Workspace now.

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Create your business continuity plan (with free template)

business continuity plan email sample

Our experts

Written and reviewed by:.

As a small business owner you may have been alarmed by the events and uncertainty of the past few years. Since COVID first hit, a barrage of tough trading conditions has seen countless businesses forced into administration or even company liquidation .

With a background of Brexit, pandemics, lockdowns, the Great Resignation, an in-and-out-and-in-again recession, and other current stressors – you will need a clear plan in place to keep operations running smoothly in these uncertain times – one that focuses on the continuity, survival and durability of your small business. That’s where a Business Continuity Plan can be essential.

You may have heard about Business Continuity Plans (BCPs), but don’t know exactly what they are or how to go about creating one. Whilst many small businesses have insurances in place, far less know they need a BCP or some kind of framework to deal with unexpected or unpredictable events.

We’ll guide you through the process here, explaining the key considerations and elements. By the end of this article you’ll know how to write a thorough and workable BCP, using the free template provided to get started .

In this article, we will cover:

What is a business continuity plan, why is a business continuity plan important.

  • How to Create A Business Continuity Plan

Next Steps: Testing and Reviewing Your Plan

Our below guide will give you detailed advice on how to write a quality BCP.

But first, you need to know what to include – and that’s where a high quality template can help.

We recommend using the free clickup.com BCP template to ensure nothing gets missed. Every step involved in the business continuity plan – coordinating your emergency response, forming your strategy to get back up and running and communicating with your customers – is already mapped out for you, ready to be filled in with your details.

We recommend creating an account with Clickup to use this free template – doing so means you may be able to keep your business protected financially and otherwise in the event of an emergency. You can see the template below, or click to try it for yourself by signing up to Clickup.

business continuity plan email sample

Business continuity is the ability of an organisation to continue production and delivery to an acceptable standard following a disruptive incident. A Business Continuity Plan details the steps and strategies to how you intend to do that.

Your Business Continuity Plan can take many different forms – a paper document that you could store away in a filing cabinet, or a digital document that you store on your computer (or multiple if you want to be really safe).

Ultimately it is the emergency strategy you use if you want to get your business on track in terms of regaining customers (and to avoid losing them to competitors) from supply chain issues, for example, to fixing physical damage to products or property, recovering from any losses of particularly significant people, and keeping the business from fully having to close down due to significant negative events.

You would normally use it as soon as you possibly can after said negative events to mitigate as much damage (whether physical or representational) as you can. This would also inspire confidence about you to your team and show the leadership needed to deal with stressful situations when it’s most needed.

The state of the world leaves much to be desired right now. We are seeing such unprecedented upheavals in almost every sector of everyday life – from the cost of living, to post-pandemic effects, to rising electricity prices and other forms of inflation – that Collins Dictionary chose “Permacrisis” as their 2022 word of the year.

“Permacrisis” perfectly encapsulates the ‘survival mode’ most small business owners are in right now . But having a Business Continuity Plan ensures that your company and its assets are protected and are able to function quickly in the event of a disaster – so that the business survives with as little damage as possible (financial or otherwise).

Your business continuity plan should detail such important aspects such as:

  • Coordinating an emergency response
  • Dealing with damaged infrastructure
  • Timescales for getting systems back up and running
  • Strategies for reassuring customers

How to Create a Business Continuity Plan

We know you already have a lot on your plate right now, and creating a new plan may seem like a lot of work with multiple considerations and factors – but not to worry. A solid plan is worth it, as it can be an essential asset for years to come, and we’re here to walk you through making one.

(We’re also assuming you already have your business plan in place, but if not, we also have a guide that will give you detailed advice on how to write a quality business plan here.)

Step 1: What are your potential risks and impact?

  • Consider all the potential risks to your company. There are external risks (for example power cuts, natural disasters, cyber attacks and other things that are out of your control for the most part), and internal risks (for example sudden cash-flow issues, tough sales months or losing key staff).
  • What parts of the business could they affect? The issues could affect anything from your premises, people, stock and equipment, operations and processes, to technology.
  • What could the impact be? You could for example experience a loss of sales and income, increased expenses, decreased customer satisfaction and loyalty, delayed service delivery, poor product quality, or regulatory fines.

Let’s put it together: If you owned a hair salon and a competitor opened up next door .(potential risk), it would affect the volume of potential customers (part of business affected) and there may be a loss of sales (business impact).

Step 2: What are your critical business functions?

  • A critical business function is a process that must be restored in the event of a disruption to protect the business and keep meeting expectations (up to the standards of shareholders, for example). A good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system would help with this process, and you can find some of the best CRM for small businesses here .
  • A few different business functions that exist are paperwork, employees, and production for example .
  • Using paperwork that was at risk of a fire as an example, a way to mitigate this potential risk would be to have multiple backups , in different locations and the responsibility of different people in the business.

Step 3: Who holds the key roles and responsibilities?

It’s important to consider the key roles and responsibilities in your business because that way, the right information can get to the right people in a streamlined way and issues can be resolved by the right people quickly.

These may include:

  • Internal staff (sales leaders, accountants, client managers etc)
  • External key players (contractors and service providers, suppliers and distributors, IT consultants, utility companies etc)
  • It’s important to have a list of key people (with their documented roles), and other important contacts, as well as clear instructions that clarify their responsibilities in an emergency situation.

Let’s put it together: If there was a security breach in a tech company, the customer service department (internal staff) would need to be alerted who could send out a reassuring email to customers. Next, a call would need to be made to an IT consultant to fix the issue (external key players). At the same time, a senior manager for example (key people) could also send out a message to shareholders to clear up and clarify any incorrect information showing on systems.

Step 4: What is your communication plan?

  • Who needs to be contacted: in the event of a disruption or emergency? Some examples may include employees, customers, clients, or suppliers.
  • How will you communicate with them: Depending on the severity of the situation and also taking into consideration the tone of your company brand and the mediums your customer base use most, you could use social media, press releases, or an email newsletter for example.
  • What will the tone be? The tone can be serious, reassuring, optimistic or anything else you feel most accurately serves the situation, and that would be on brand for your company.
  • Test your plan. It is extremely important to make sure your plan works BEFORE it’s put into action. There would be nothing worse than to feel you have a good plan but when something serious actually happens, it all falls apart because it wasn’t properly tested or viable in actual practice.
  • The various components of testing may involve training staff, practice drills where you can receive feedback on areas of improvement, and allowing yourself time to make adjustments where necessary. Project management software would be useful in organising all of this with the many different people involved – we have an article on some of the best free project management software here.

When Should You Review Your Plan?

A Business Continuity Plan should be a living, breathing entity just as your company is. As life’s natural changes occur, and shifts in your business infrastructure inevitably occur over different periods of time, you will need to ensure that your plan is regularly updated so it’s the best it can be.

Key factors that should trigger a review include:

  • Changes to staff: New staff will need to be informed about the practices of your plans, and sometimes the plan may need to be adjusted to accommodate new staff, if they have specific needs for example.
  • Changes to premises: Your plan should include emergency procedures for every physical premise you have, so if there is a change there make sure your plan reflects that to ensure it’s as optimal as possible.
  • Changes to processes: If there are changes to your processes, your plan should reflect these changes so that everyone can stay updated and there is as little confusion as possible in the event of anything unexpected.

How Often Should You Review Your Plan?

  • Timeframe: An annual review is good practice to review and update your business continuity plan, because usually in that amount of time a business, the environment of the business and the world would have naturally changed and evolved to some extent.
  • Who to update: You should inform anyone within your company that the changes will affect, such as staff and employees, who will need to know in order to adjust their behaviours and processes and move forward safely. (You can use your list of key people for this).
  • How / where to store your BCP: As mentioned above in the ‘critical business section’, it’s important that your BCP is stored in a few different locations, and accessible to the people who may need it.

Your business continuity plan should not just be something you create then never intend to action. You never know when an emergency event will come into play that could potentially break your business in some way or another, and you can use the free template provided by Clickup to rectify that.

Hopefully you’ll never need to use your plan, but in the worst case scenario, you can rest assured that you have yourself and your business covered.

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Business Continuity Simplified

By Andy Marker | December 17, 2018 (updated October 24, 2021)

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Unexpected work interruptions can cripple a business and cause millions of dollars in expenses and lost business. Learn about the importance of business continuity planning and management from experts. 

In this article, you’ll learn the definition of a business continuity plan and the primary goal of business continuity planning . Additionally, you’ll learn the steps involved in business continuity planning and about the business continuity lifecycle .

What Is Business Continuity Management?

In business continuity management (BCM) , a company identifies potential threats to its activities and the threat impact. The company then develops plans to respond to those threats and continue activities through any crisis.

What Is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan (BCP) describes how a business will continue to run during and after a crisis event. The BCP details guidelines, procedures, and work instructions to aid continuity.

To learn more about writing a plan, see our how-to guide to writing a business continuity plan .

What Is Business Continuity Planning?

Business continuity planning (BCP) refers to the work a company does to create a plan and system to deal with risks. Thorough planning seeks to prevent problems and ensure business processes continue during and after a crisis.

Business continuity planning ensures that the company deals with disruptions quickly, and minimizes the impact on operations. Business continuity planning is also called business resumption planning and continuous service delivery assurance (CSDA) .

What Is the Primary Goal of Business Continuity Planning?

The main goal of business continuity planning is to support key company activities during a crisis. Planning ensures a company can run with limited resources or restricted access to buildings. Continuity planning also aims to minimize revenue or reputation losses.   

A business continuity plan should outline several key things that an organization needs to do to prepare for potential disruptions to its activities, including the following:

  • Recognize potential threats to a company.
  • Assess potential impacts on the company’s daily activities.
  • Provide a way to reduce these potential problems, and establish a structure that allows key company functions to continue throughout and after the event.
  • Identify the resources the organization needs to continue operating, such as staffing, equipment, and alternative locations.

Business Continuity Planning Steps

A business continuity plan includes guidelines and procedures to guide a business through disruption. The efforts to create a plan are the same for large or small organizations. A simple plan is better than no plan. 

The basic steps for writing a business continuity plan are as follows:

  • Create a governance team.
  • Complete your business impact analysis (BIA) and risk assessment documents.
  • Document your plan. Remember to include detailed guidelines and procedures that cover key processes and facilities.
  • Test and update the plan regularly.

The Business Continuity Management Lifecycle

Business continuity management includes preparing for and handling unexpected events. BCM has a six-step lifecycle. This cycle repeats during both in regular business times and crises, as you take the right steps to keep activities always running.

The BCM lifecycle includes the following points:

  • Mitigate Risk: Proactively identify business continuity risks to your company, and plan how your company will respond.
  • Prepare: Train staff on your business continuity plan and ensure they understand what they need to do to help the business respond.
  • Respond: Ensure that your company and all employees respond appropriately to a crisis. Be prepared to adapt in the moment.
  • Resolve: Ensure that the company plans how to communicate effectively with staff and that it does so appropriately during the crisis.
  • Recover: Inform employees, customers, and other important people about the status of the crisis and your company’s response.
  • Resume: Communicate with employees and others after the crisis ends.

What Are Business Continuity Risks or Events?

Also called business continuity events, business continuity risks are the most common events that can disrupt a company’s regular operations — these can be natural and human-made crises. Defining these risks is a vital part of business continuity planning.

Such events might include the following:

  • Severe weather
  • Natural disasters (tornadoes, floods, blizzards, earthquakes, fire, etc.)
  • A physical security threat
  • A recall of a company’s product
  • Supply chain problems
  • Threats to staffing and employee safety
  • Accidents at an organization’s facilities
  • Destruction to a company’s facilities or property
  • Power disruptions
  • Server crashes
  • Failures in public and private services (communications, transportation, safety, etc.)
  • Environmental disasters, including hazardous materials spills
  • Network disruptions
  • Human error/human-made hazards
  • Stock market crashes
  • Cyber attacks and hacker activity

Any of these triggers can result in broader problems for a company, such as danger or injury to staff and others, equipment damages, brand injury, and loss of income and net worth. Business continuity management and planning address and mitigate these contingencies.

What Is a Business Continuity Strategy?

A business continuity strategy is more often called a business continuity plan. The strategy includes the processes and structure a company uses to manage an unexpected event.

Some people consider business continuity strategy to be a step in the planning process. In the strategy phase, business continuity planners describe the overall approach a company should take to prevent, manage, and recover from a crisis.

An Overview of Business Continuity Management and Planning

There are several goals, key elements, and benefits to business continuity management and planning. The primary goals of management and planning are as follows:

  • Build Company Resiliency: Doing so means that your company’s tools, buildings, and operations are resistant to — and not greatly affected by — most disruptions.
  • Create a Plan for Recovery (with Contingencies that Aid in That Recovery): If a major event does cause problems, you should have a plan for how to recover quickly. That plan will include contingencies. For example, you should plan for how key operations will resume if there is a widespread power outage.

Business continuity management and planning generally cover the following areas, with differences depending on the organization and industry:

  • Disaster Recovery: Disaster recovery involves recovering technology after a disruptive event. You can learn more about disaster recovery and download free templates in our comprehensive article .
  • Emergency Management: Emergency management focuses on avoiding and mitigating catastrophic risks to staff and communities.
  • Business Recovery: Considered part of business continuity, business recovery centers on short-term activities after a disruptive incident. The short-term is sometimes defined as less than 60 days.
  • Business Resumption: This describes the longterm phase of recovery (60 or more days after an even), wherein the company returns to near-normal conditions.
  • Crisis Management: Crisis management focuses on communicating with stakeholders during and after a crisis, and controlling damage during the event. To learn more, read our comprehensive guide to crisis management .
  • Incident Management: Incident management is an ITIL (previously known as Information Technology Infrastructure Library) framework for reducing or eliminating downtime after an incident.
  • Contingency Planning: This covers outlier risks that are unlikely to occur but which could have disastrous results.

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“A well managed business continuity management program will help protect people, assets, and business processes,” says Scott Owens, founder and managing director of BluTinuity , a business continuity firm based in New Berlin, Wisconsin. “It may not be able to prevent all incidents. But it can reduce the likelihood of incidents, decrease response time, and lower the cost and impact of an incident.”

Key Elements of Business Continuity Management

All business continuity management programs should include a number of key elements, which serve to ensure that your plan is positioned for success and that you regularly update and improve it.   

These important elements include the following:

  • Governance: This is the structure and team your business sets up to create and monitor the program.
  • Business Alignment: This section details how your company’s current business continuity management and planning processes compare to expert approaches and industry standards.
  • Continuity Strategy and Recovery Strategies: Include a detailed plan that assesses risks to your organization and how you can recover, should those risks become reality.
  • Plan Documentation: Provide details on the plan that everyone in your company can access. To get started, see our roundup of free business continuity plan templates .
  • Tactical Implementation: This section includes details on the specific ways your company plans to recover from certain types of incidents.
  • Training: In this section, detail how you will train your staff to understand the business continuity plan and their role in it.
  • Testing: Include real-world simulations of a crisis event, and test how your company and its employees respond and the effectiveness of your business continuity plans.
  • Maintenance: Make changes to the plan where necessary to increase its effectiveness.
  • Monitoring: This section details how you will continue to compare industry standards and expert advice to how your plan is working.

To learn about formal requirements for business continuity planning and management, see our comprehensive article on the ISO 22301 standard . 

The Costs of Business Continuity Management

The costs to do an appropriate job of business continuity management can be significant. However, some reports say that the cost of unforeseen downtime may be as much as $2.5 billion a year for Fortune 1000 companies.

Kurt Engemann, Ph.D., is Director of the Center for Business Continuity and Risk Management at Iona College in New York, Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Business Continuity and Risk Management and author of Business Continuity and Risk Management: Essentials of Organizational Resilience . In the book, he says that costs for business continuity preparation do not only include the groundwork to assess a company’s risks and plans to manage those risks. Rather, they also cover the needed backup facilities and equipment and company assets for emergency response. In addition, costs must cover resources for training employees and testing the plan.

Some experts have estimated that business continuity management and planning within only the crucial information technology aspects of companies can cost two to four percent of the information technology budget. But the costs are necessary, and worth it in the long run, according to business continuity experts.

“There is an initial outlay of a modest amount of money that will lessen the financial impact of a possible future crisis,” Engemann writes in his book. “Similar to an insurance policy, the financial benefit of BCM must be viewed from a long-term prospective.”

When an organization’s top executives complain about the costs, Owens says, “Ask them what it would cost their organization for an hour of downtime. Or eight hours. Or 24 hours. Chances are the cost — financial, operational, and to brand and reputation — of having key business functions unavailable for an extended period are significant. They will most likely find business continuity management to be worth the investment.” 

Benefits of Business Continuity Management

Like Engemann, Owens points out that there are significant benefits to the investment organizations make in business continuity management, including the following:

  • Mission Critical Processes: If you understand your key processes, you can plan to protect them and prioritize their recovery.
  • Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Laws or regulations require companies in some industries to implement a formal business continuity management system.
  • Satisfying Demands from Other Organizations: Some groups and companies may require that your company sets up BCM before they do business with you.
  • Insurance Payments: To get the maximum payments from an insurance policy after an event, a company must have suitable business continuity management policies in place.
  • Reputation Management: Your business’s brand will be greatly helped or hurt, depending on how an unforeseen event affects its operations.
  • Competitive Advantage: A strong business continuity plan can offer your company the advantage over peers who are not as well prepared.
  • Seamless Recovery: Cloud-based technologies make data backup, remote work, and business recovery affordable and accessible. Groups and businesses of all sizes can benefit from such tools. See our article on cloud computing for business continuity to learn more.
  • Time Savings: Planning prevents teams from scrambling at the last minute to cobble together a recovery effort. Strong planning helps you get back online — and back on track — faster.

Michael Herrera, CEO of MHA Consulting , a business continuity and disaster recovery firm, cites two other significant benefits: 

  • Keeping Customers and Avoiding Major Financial Losses: Getting operations back to normal quickly after an event means your company loses less money.

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“Your customers aren’t as patient as you think they are,” Herrera explains. “They expect you to have a business continuity system and they expect you to be up and running. Their patience does run out.”

  • Improving Day-to-Day Operations: Herrera says his firm’s clients often discover how business continuity planning gives them insights into the day-to-day operations of their company. “It really can help you with process improvement and getting a good understanding of what your business does every day.”

Additionally, strong business continuity planning will enable you to do the following:

  • Officially declare a disaster and alert senior management.
  • Assist in the development of an official public statement regarding a disaster and its effects on a business.
  • Monitor your business’s progress and present the recovery status.
  • Provide ongoing support and guidance to teams with pre-planned operations.
  • Review critical processing, schedules, and backlogs to keep everyone up to date on status.
  • Ensure businesses have both the resources and the information to deal with an unforeseen emergency.
  • Reduce the risk that an emergency might pose to employees, clients, and vendors, etc.
  • Provide a response for both man-made and environmental disasters.
  • Improve overall business communication and response plans.
  • Summarize both the operational and the financial impacts resulting from the loss of critical business functions.
  • Allow businesses to plan for a loss of function that has potentially larger, more severe consequences.

See our article on the importance and benefits of business continuity planning to read more expert examples of how business continuity can bolster your company. 

Key Business Continuity Management and Planning Considerations

Companies don’t have to face business continuity planning alone. There are a variety of tools and services that can help, including the following:

Consultant Services

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of consultants and companies that can provide help with developing your business continuity plan. Below are a few things to think about in choosing one:

  • How experienced are they? How long have they been around?
  • What’s their reputation as a company? What do their clients say about them?
  • Are they focused on a specific industry or area of business continuity, or do they have experience with a range of industries and a broad spectrum of business continuity?
  • How do they think about business continuity (as a somewhat separate practice or something that needs to be ingrained within your organization)?
  • How aligned is their advice with standards in your industry?

Business Continuity Software

There are also hundreds of pieces of business continuity software on the market. Here are some things to consider:

  • Are you looking for software that will automate the development of plan components, or software that offers more in-depth help during the planning phase?
  • What is the history of the software and the company behind it? How long has this particular software been on the market and what is the history and the reputation of the company behind it?
  • Is the software being continually updated and improved?

Below are some specifics to consider as you test drive the software:

  • Does it have an easy-to-use interface?
  • Does it cover all aspects and components of business continuity, including business impact analysis and risk assessment ?
  • Does it include sufficient storage for your company’s supporting documents?
  • Does it provide secure portable access via mobile or other technologies, if a crisis interrupts your information technology systems?
  • Does it provide strong data analytics?
  • Is it secure and private?

Primary Things Your Organization’s Business Continuity Management System Should Accomplish

While your business continuity management system will have various elements and details, there are some primary things it should do for your organization. They correspond to the key elements listed earlier in this article. 

For example, a BCM system should help do the following: 

  • Understand your company’s needs for business continuity and disaster preparedness. A BCM system should be able to assist company leaders in understanding the need for a business continuity management policy.
  • Understand which processes should be recovered and in what order.
  • Establish business continuity metrics to gauge success.
  • Plan for communicating with customers, staff, and other stakeholders.
  • Determine what tools, technology, and staffing are required to restore activities and support customers.
  • Establish remote-work support or relocation plans for staff and activities.
  • Implement ways to continually assess and manage continuity risks.
  • Monitor and review how its business continuity management system is working.
  • Continually improve the system.
  • Respond effectively in a real-world crisis, and allow the business’s critical operations to continue and all operations to resume quickly.

Although nobody wants to think about disasters or the effort needed to prepare to meet and mitigate crises, the alternative is the potential loss of reputation, income, or the entire business. In sum, planning translates to determining your key processes, equipment, and tools, and applying basic recovery strategies. 

The Importance of Senior Organizational Leaders Strongly Supporting Your Business Continuity Management and Planning

Your senior leaders must strongly support your company’s business continuity management plan for it to succeed. Such leadership is key as storms, floods, pandemics, and data breaches increase in force and frequency.

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“Make sure senior management is committed to the planning, development, execution, and implementation of a business continuity/disaster recovery program,” says Paul Kirvan , a business continuity consultant and a fellow of the Business Continuity Institute with 25 years of experience in business continuity work. “Otherwise, it simply won’t happen. Such programs work best if they have top-down support and funding, as opposed to being developed from the ground up.”

Business Continuity Plan Test Types

Testing verifies the effectiveness of your plan and provides training for participants. To ensure better communication, include suppliers, vendors, and other stakeholders in exercises. If appropriate, also consider including local emergency preparedness officials.  

There are four types of testing, and each requires increasing levels of planning, resources, and focus. You should try to run each type of drill regularly.

  • Plan Review: Plan reviews are often the first test applied to a new plan. In this test, top management and some key BCP personnel review the relevance and completeness of a plan. Such a review can verify risk and BIA results, and help you check for gaps and inconsistencies among continuity documents.
  • Tabletop or Structured Walkthrough: A tabletop test requires more preparation and time. It provides a role-playing exercise for recovery teams.
  • Simulation or Walkthrough Drill: In a walkthrough drill, your continuity team physically completes the type of tasks they'd find in a crisis. They may practice evacuating a building during a fire, restoring a backup, or switching to another communication frequency.
  • Functional or Live Scenario: Functional tests include a complete physical drill of continuity plans. Live tests may focus on one aspect of the plan or include the complete plan. They may include one part of the company or all team members.

Be sure to document what happened in the test so everyone involved in the exercise — and especially those who created the plan — can understand what did and didn’t go well, and can revise as necessary.

Business Continuity Management Policy Statement

A business continuity policy statement is a written document that outlines an organization’s business continuity management program. The policy statement should be communicated to all employees and should be signed and endorsed by the organization’s senior management.

See real-world examples of a business continuity policy statement .

Cultivating Awareness of Business Continuity Plans

The best business continuity system is useless if no one knows about it. Find ways to promote your plans in daily company activities, and discuss business continuity regularly in company and team meetings. Also, be sure to include the business continuity manager in cross-functional planning meetings so they can represent the business continuity perspective. Above all, exercise your plan, test your plan, and then test again.

What Is the Importance of a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan is vital to ensure that your company mitigates downtime during a crisis. Resuming activities quickly after an event also helps ensure your company’s financial health.

How to Write a Business Continuity Plan

It is crucial that your company set up a group of people to help create your business continuity plan. The group should include senior leadership, experts, and staff. A simple, practical plan is the best plan. At a minimum, include continuity team roles and duties, and team member contact information. You should also add guidelines and checklists for dealing with unforeseen events. 

Daily business functions rely on many resources — human, utilities, machines, and even paper, pens, and pencils. Business recovery after a disruptive event is no different. See our in-depth article on writing a business continuity plan for a complete list of resource types you may want to include in a plan.

You can ask certain questions as you form your strategy, and a business continuity plan usually includes common resources and elements. See our article on how to write a business continuity plan to learn more.

Business Continuity Plan Template

business continuity plan email sample

This template can help you document and track business operations in the event of a disruption/disaster to maintain critical processes. The plan includes space to record business function recovery priorities, recovery plans, and alternate site locations. Plan efficiently for disruption and minimize downtime, so your business maintains optimal efficiency.

Download Business Continuity Plan Template

Word | PowerPoint | PDF

You’ll find other most useful free, downloadable business continuity plan (BCP) templates, in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and PDF formats in this article . 

What Is a Business Impact Analysis and Why Is It an Important Part of a Business Continuity Plan?

A business impact analysis (BIA) is one of the most important parts of business continuity planning. The analysis considers how an unforeseen disruption could affect a company. BIA results also suggest how a business can recover from a crisis.

The business impact analysis will include details on the following:

  • Recovery time objectives that outline the organization’s goals relating to how quickly various services and processes will resume after an event
  • Financial impact of an incident
  • Impact on customers
  • Other possible impacts of an incident
  • How the organization will prioritize recovery steps
  • How the organization will prioritize critical services or products
  • Identification of potential revenue loss
  • Identification of additional expenses the organization will incur because of the event
  • Identification of insurance an organization has or needs to have
  • Identification of an organization’s dependencies on other agencies, companies, and providers

See our business impact analysis toolkit to find guidelines and templates to get started.

Risk Mitigation for Business Continuity

Risk assessment is one of the first steps in preparing your business continuity plan. 

Risk management includes identifying and ranking risks, and risk control includes identifying policies and procedures to avoid and contain risks. 

To learn more about risk management , read our comprehensive guide.

The Importance of Periodically Testing an Organization’s Business Continuity Plan

Even the best business continuity plans are useless if you do not continually test them in real-world mockups. Testing helps you continuously improve procedures, and also keeps plans synched with current business context.

Robert Sollars, a security trainer and consultant from Mesa, Arizona, says, “You must exercise your plan and train your employees in it. This can be costly and unwieldy at times, but it is an absolute must. I liken this to buying a Lamborghini and letting it sit in the garage, never starting it up, never driving it, never doing anything but admiring it. Your plan must be taken out and test driven at least two to three times per year. If you don’t test it, then when the real thing pops you will realize what the books, consultants, and experts have told you is useless for your organization. Testing it allows you to figure out the bugs and tweak the necessary items to make it more efficient and effective.”

Owens adds, “If you haven’t tested your plans, you aren’t ready for a disaster.”

You can do some testing through simpler table top exercises — for example, by talking through hypothetical incidents with your team. But Owens and other business continuity experts say organizations should also periodically do exercises that more closely mimic a real-world event.

“Organizations need to move … to progressively more complex scenarios, involving cross-functional teams and interdependent systems and processes,” he writes in a blog post about business continuity. “This is the only way that a company can get outside its comfort zone to truly understand if what they have designed will really work. My preference is to involve role-playing, actors, and include participation from vendors, business partners, and local law enforcement when appropriate. This will almost always result in lessons learned and opportunities to improve the plan, which is another great outcome.”

The most important result from testing your plan is an understanding of where theoretical solutions won’t work in real events. This understanding will then allow your organization to amend the plan to be more effective.

What Is a Business Continuity Plan Governance Committee?

Many companies set up a business continuity plan governance committee, which consists of staff members and senior leaders (their continuity efforts is vital). Governance tasks include writing the business continuity plan and supervising ongoing plan maintenance.  

The committee is often responsible for the following duties:

  • Approving the governance structure of the committee
  • Clarifying the roles of committee members and others working on the plan
  • Overseeing the creation of working groups to develop and implement the plan
  • Providing overall direction and communicate important information to employees
  • Approving the continuity plan and essential specifics within it
  • Setting priorities within the plan

The committee often includes the following members:

  • A senior leader from the business, often the sponsor
  • A business continuity manager and assistant manager
  • The company employee, or outside consultant, who will serve as overall coordinator of the business continuity plan
  • The company’s security officer
  • The company’s chief information officer, or information technology leader
  • Representatives from the company’s business department, to help with the business impact analysis
  • An administrative representative

How to Cultivate Resilience in Your Organization

A resilient organization has the tools and abilities to survive a disruptive event, and also regularly looks for new threats and adapts to changes in the organizational and industry landscape. Resilience experts recognize two types of resilience: reactive resilience uses a company’s existing processes to meet and overcome a crisis; proactive resilience anticipates disruptions and considers methods to prevent problems.  

Real World Example: Lessons Learned About Business Continuity from the Terrorist Attacks of Sept. 11, 2001

Organizational leaders and business continuity experts learned a lot from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Worst of all, the attacks killed thousands of people. But they also severely disrupted communications, financial transactions, and some commerce in New York City and throughout the world.

The following are among the lessons learned:

  • Business continuity plans must be tested frequently, and updated where needed.
  • The plans must assume a wide range of threats.
  • The plans must take into account how much companies, agencies, and other entities depend on each other.
  • Key people from any organization must be available and reachable when an incident happens.
  • The ability to communicate, especially through landline phones, cell phones, and the internet, is vital.
  • Sites that organizations use for backup of their digital information should be located at a distance from their primary information technology site.
  • Employee support and counseling may be important during and after a crisis.
  • An organization should store copies of its business continuity plan at a location apart from its primary location.
  • Security perimeters around the scene of an incident may be large, which may affect employees’ access to organization facilities for long periods.

Legislation Governing Some Business Continuity Management and Planning

The United Kingdom did approved the Civil Contingencies Act in 2004, which requires businesses to have business continuity plans in place.

Some industries do have regulatory bodies that may impose business continuity requirements within those industries. For instance, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is a private self-regulatory organization overseeing the U.S. financial securities industry. FINRA established FINRA Rule 4370. This rule requires securities firms to create and maintain written business continuity plans. Utility bodies, such as North American Electric Reliability Corporation ( NERC ) and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ( FERC ), also require continuity plans.

Guidelines, Standards, and Resources Providing Guidance on Business Continuity Management and Planning

Organizational leaders can use a number of standards set by industry and other groups to guide their business continuity planning and management programs. Below are some commonly used standards:

  • ISO 22301 : Developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), a standard-setting body, this group of standards sets out appropriate business continuity management practices. Learn more about how this standard can help businesses of all sizes in our guide to ISO 22301 . 
  • NFPA 1600 : Developed by the National Fire Protection Association, the standard is one of the most widely recognized in the U.S. on emergency preparedness and business continuity.
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology SP 800-34 : Sets contingency planning standards for federal information systems in the U.S.
  • SPC-2009 — Organizational Resilience : Security, Preparedness and Continuity Management Systems provides critical business and infrastructure security standards developed by the American Society for Industrial Security.
  • ISO 27000 : Standards for security in information technology systems, which include standards for business continuity in information technology. Learn more about ISO 27000 and find free checklists and templates . 
  • DRI International : Professional Practices for Business Continuity Management
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Continuity Guidance Circular: Continuity Guidance for Non-Federal Entities: An 86-page formal document, the circular presents FEMA’s perspective on how businesses can prepare for disasters.
  • Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety: Open for Business Continuity Toolkit: This site offers a video, FAQ, and downloadable continuity planning tools.

What Is the Business Continuity Institute?

The Business Continuity Institute (BCI), based in the United Kingdom, is a non-profit professional organization providing education, certification, and leadership on business continuity management. The Institute has more than 8,000 members in more than 100 countries.

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Minimizing Downtime With a Comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan Checklist

Minimizing Downtime With a Comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan Checklist

Preparing for recovery starts long before a disaster occurs. Use this checklist to help plan ahead to minimize disruptions and downtime from any business disaster.

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  • Checklist Infographic

13-Step Disaster Recovery Plan Checklist

When a disaster strikes—whether it’s a crippling ransomware event or a destructive natural disaster—a smooth recovery process is critical to getting back on your feet. But that recovery doesn’t simply unfold as soon as the storm recedes. Rapid operational recovery starts with planning long before the disaster even occurs.

Before Hurricane Michael hit Panama City in 2018, Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED, Inc., thought they were thoroughly prepared for the storm and recovery. “We have a really extensive hurricane preparedness plan across all of our coastal locations,” explains Gianetta Jones, Vice President & Chief People Officer. But the Category 5 storm caused severe damage to cell phone infrastructure that the Coca-Cola team was not ready for. Gianetta told us on The Employee Safety Podcast , “We had to pivot and purchased several very expensive satellite phones for our operators that were local to be able to communicate with us at the corporate office.”

Flexibility is necessary in disaster recovery, as disasters hardly follow a predictable plan. But the right preparation can make it possible to adapt and maximize your time and resources through recovery. A comprehensive disaster recovery plan is not just a “good-to-have” safety net; it serves as a roadmap for resuming operations efficiently and effectively, minimizing the impact on your business and clients. And a great way to get started on your disaster recovery planning process (or to review and reassess your standing plan) is with a disaster recovery plan checklist.

Whether you’re facing natural calamities, cyberattacks, or technological failures, this checklist will guide you through establishing robust protocols to protect your assets, data, and your operational continuity.

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1. Assess the risks and impacts

Conduct a thorough risk assessment to identify potential disasters and emergencies and look for vulnerabilities. Then, perform a detailed business impact analysis to understand the potential impact of disasters on your business operations. These assessments will help you determine what disasters you must prepare for and what recovery might be necessary.

2. Coordinate with departments and identify stakeholders

Engage all internal departments to gather input and ensure comprehensive coverage. In particular, you’ll want to work with teams involved in emergency preparedness, IT, business continuity, security, and any other function that may be impacted by the event. Additionally, determine any stakeholders, internal and external, crucial to the recovery processes.

3. Review past emergencies

Analyze any previous incidents your organization has been through to learn from past emergencies and refine your current planning efforts. You can also look at organizations similar in size and industry to understand how they have experienced disasters.

4. Assemble the leadership team

The disaster recovery team members will be dedicated to managing the disaster recovery process, though not necessarily executing the entire disaster recovery plan themselves. They will serve as important leaders and decision-makers throughout the process.

5. Document systems and processes

Thoroughly record all critical business systems and processes. This might include software applications, physical items in your facility, digital systems, on-site and off-site resources, or processes vital to your operations. If it is something that a disaster might impact, it should be considered in this step.

Once you have your list, do the following for each item:

For example, when building an IT disaster recovery plan, you’ll want to document all your IT systems, identify the most critical pieces of IT infrastructure, and arrange for data backups, secondary data centers, and other data protection for any critical data that may be impacted.

6. Analyze your recovery needs

Perform a detailed recovery analysis for each type of disaster that could impact the business. Include the following steps in this analysis:

7. Set up your recovery plan templates

If you are using a disaster recovery plan template, you’ll want to make copies of the template pages to fill out. You want a tailored recovery plan for each type of disaster, so multiple versions of the template are a must.

8. Assign personnel

Identify and document all personnel who will be involved in each recovery and response plan. Write down their roles and responsibilities within the recovery efforts and contact information.

9. Establish the activation criteria

Set clear criteria for when to activate the disaster recovery plan. Clarify the turning point between disaster response procedures and disaster recovery, so you don’t hesitate in the event of a disaster.

10. Write the recovery plan

The previous disaster recovery checklist stages prepare you to document your plan. Detail the specific steps and strategies to recover from each disaster you may face.

11. List resources and related documents

Document all the resources required for the recovery plan and their locations. Include links or references to any related plans and supportive documentation. This might include your business continuity plan , risk assessments from earlier in the process, or documentation for a specific recovery strategy.

12. Develop a communication plan

Communication is critical to recovery, so ensure your plan includes a clear process for reaching your employees, stakeholders, and external resources. Design a comprehensive emergency communication plan detailing:

13. Evaluate your response

Don’t make the mistake of building out your disaster recovery plan and assuming it can stay the same year after year. Not only are the disaster scenarios you face likely to change, but your organization will also grow and change; what worked for recovery at one point won’t necessarily work weeks, months, or years later. Regularly test, evaluate, and update the disaster recovery plan to ensure it still meets your business needs over time.

Planning for Resilience Through Operational Failback

With the right plan in place, recovery doesn’t have to feel like a disaster in and of itself. Develop a comprehensive disaster recovery plan with this checklist to keep your whole team on the same page and align their efforts.

Unlike an IT system failback, to recover your business operations, you often need to build them back up one by one. Following all 13 steps, you can ensure you don’t miss a critical system in your DR plan, and you minimize the effort it takes to quickly and confidently return to normal operations.

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