Business continuity plan

Business continuity doesn't have to be difficult or take a lot of time. The steps below will help you prepare a plan for your business and give you confidence that you can cope in a crisis.
Get to grips with your business

What is the aim of your business and what are the key activities involved in achieving it?

What resources do the key activities need to be able to happen? Think about staff, premises, equipment, communication links, IT, suppliers, specific knowledge or training.

What deadlines do you work to?

Assess the risks

The aim of a business continuity plan is to cope with any disruption regardless of the cause. For example, you may have a team of people who are key to your business. They could all become unavailable due to a flu pandemic or their syndicate could win the lottery. You need to plan for their unavailability, whatever the reason.

What would the impact be if some or all of your key resources became unavailable?

Are there any situations which your business is particularly vulnerable to? Check the possible risks which may affect you.

What else could affect your business?

  • staff lottery win
  • fire
  • break-in
Develop a strategy

Decide how you would handle a crisis by identifying:

  • what actions will you take in a crisis
  • how the actions will be done
  • who will do those actions
  • where the actions will take place. For example, on-site or at an alternative location
  • what the priorities will be.
Write your plan

Using the information gathered in the steps above, write your plan. It should be simple and flexible so it can handle any sort of disruption.

This 10-point checklist can help make sure you have considered all the main points.

You could also use this Business Continuity Plan template to help you record all the information you have gathered.

Test and maintain your plan
You should test your plan to make sure that your assumptions work. Staff must become familiar with it and have an idea of what would happen in a real incident.

There are various ways to test your plan. You could walk through aspects of the plan at a tabletop exercise, or carry out a full simulation. It can be less disruptive to test small parts of your plan at at time. This also allows you to focus on gaining as many valuable lessons learned as possible.

When you have tested your plans, you will have identified areas where you can improve things. You should make changes to your plan to include these improvements and remains up to date.

Review your plan on a regular cycle. An out of date plan could be almost useless when you actually need to use it.