No one argues with the value of having a continuity plan. Considered a core discipline of business resiliency, the Continuity Plan (CP) deals with the actions organizations take before, during and after a crisis to insure minimal disruption and loss.

The studies are in, the facts are verified, and the arguments are compelling! In the event of a catastrophe, having a comprehensive CP reduces business losses by up to 90% and helps maintain stakeholder confidence in the organization. However, despite universal acceptance of the value of planning, surprisingly few organizations have an ongoing program that promotes business continuity through planning, testing, and other forms of continual improvement. While some organizations shy away from developing a plan because they are intimidated by what may seem to be a significant commitment of time and resources to such a project, others just are not sure of how to proceed.

Below is a sample outline of a business contingency plan. 

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Cover Memorandum from Management

Signature Page of Program Team

Table of Contents

Memorandum to the Reader

Program Mission Statement & Glossary

Section 1 – General Policies

Introduction

Command and Control Center(s)

Emergency Teams & Key Personnel

Team Responsibility

Coordination with Public Agencies

Risk Analysis Results

Disaster Scenarios Defined

Business Impact Assessment

Security and Disaster Prevention

Awareness and Training Activities

Response/Recovery/Restoration Goals

Alternative Sites & Infrastructure

Essential Services and Finance

Plan Documentation

Plan Distribution

Plan Testing

Plan Maintenance

Inventory of Critical Assets

IT & Telecom Recovery Considerations

Timetables, Strategies and Exhibits

Introduction and Expectation

Emergency Team(s) Activation and Role

Initial Response & Recovery Actions

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Emergency Declaration Guidelines Detailed Life Safety Plans

Detailed Employee Assistance Plans

Detailed Facility & Security Plans

Detailed IT & Telecom Plans

Crisis Communication Strategies

Management Update Strategy

Employee-oriented Communications

Customer-oriented Communication

Value Chain Communications

Alternative Sourcing & Services

Media Communications

Other Stakeholder Communications

“All Clear” Declaration

Damage Assessment

Disaster Assessment Guidelines

Vital Function Recovery Timeframes

RTO and RPO Guidelines

Priority Restoration Plans

Human Resource Policy Issues

Facility and Security Considerations

Legal and Regulatory Concerns

Financial Management Issues

Organizational Considerations

Supply Chain and Logistics

Resumption of Normal Operations

Future Plan Testing Schedule

Post Event Analysis

Supporting Appendices

Plans come in many sizes and formats and the plan’s organization reflects its purpose. Various industry and governmental groups have agreed on a common format, which has gained international acceptance. In the United States, this format finds expression in the publication NFPA 1600, while internationally; a nearly identical structure is promoted by British Standard 25999. These methodologies form the core of the business continuity training and credentialing offered by the three most widely recognized organizations in this field: the Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRII), the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) and the International Consortium for Operational Resiliency (ICOR).

Openly discussing your business continuity plan with employees, vendors, and clients promotes development of a culture of safety and resiliency in the community.

Regardless of how well designed your plan is, it has little value if it is untested and unused. The best way to insure its relevancy is through regularly scheduled exercise and reviews. While some may view quarterly or semi-annual testing as an unnecessary expense, when a disaster strikes, these experiences can mean the difference between life and death. Several professional associations provide information and conduct research on the topic of business continuity planning.

We recommend that interested parties should join one or more of these professional societies and to invest time in learning about this important area of Business Continuity Planning.

For more information on this subject, other business continuity topics or business continuity policies please write to:

Info@ContinuityCompliance.org

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