What is a Business Continuity Plan Template?
Every business, big or small have or should have a business continuity plan in place. This is something that no business should miss because without it, the company is risking the survival of the whole business in the event of a disaster. The inability to keep the computers running because of natural disasters like earthquakes or typhoon is not a good excuse, especially if a client is paying you a lot of money to maintain their servers and database and if you are an Internet services company that require a 24/7 visibility. But for some newly established firms, creating this plan is difficult, especially if no one in the company is already experienced to make one. This is where a business continuity plan template becomes useful.
A business continuity plan template is a model which you can refer to and even edit to fit your company’s plan or goals. How can you keep the business running in case something happens? What are you going to do so no information is compromised in case a disaster happens in the building? How long will you be able to put the systems back after an earthquake? These are some questions that need to be answered in a business continuity plan. Basically this template details your back up and disaster recovery plan in any situation. It also summarizes who will be responsible or what team will take care of what area in case something unimaginable happens. For companies, having a proper plan in place spells the difference between success and failure, thus, it is imperative to make an effective plan with the help of a useful business continuity plan template.
Guide in Creating Business Continuity Planning Templates
A business continuity planning template, just like any module, has crucial parts. Although there are some parts that should be specifically for your company only, there are basic parts that must be in every plan. There are templates that can be found and downloaded from the Internet, you can even buy software that has different templates. However, it is crucial that you know the things to look for in a template or software when choosing one. Here are some of the things that you need to find in a template, if one of them is missing, then you can just add it to your plan, again, depending on what your company needs.
The company logo or name, distribution list and references are the first things that must be found in a plan. This will explain who will be accountable in executing the plan, who will be in charge of updating it as well as building policy and legislation guidelines such as an earthquake evacuation plan.
Inventory or initial information should be asked in the template. How many staff members can work for this plan, the number of computers you have, the information you have on your database, all other devices and the number of sites should be accounted for to ensure that everything will have a back up and to make sure that everything and everybody will be mobilized in case any difficult situation happens.
Emergency response management should also be found in a business continuity template. This tells when the plan will be activated and what situations should you consider as an emergency.
Another thing that a template should have are flow diagrams. It is easier to understand diagrams and graphs, than a document with pure text. This will also help in mapping out the steps that every team should take. Relocating steps, recovering operations and other instructions should have corresponding diagrams to follow for easier recall.
A glossary or list of terms should also be there as everyone must be on the same page and must understand each other in order for the plan to be communicated well.
These parts should be found in business continuity plan templates. You may add some though if you wish and if you deem it necessary. However having this template is not an assurance that it will work. There are still more things to do to ensure that this plan or template is going help you in case a disaster strikes.
Ensuring the Effectiveness of Your Business Continuity Planning Template
But what consists a highly effective business continuity planning template, you may ask. The first thing to check to ensure its effectiveness is its completeness. Make sure that all the fields are there, ask yourself whether all the questions or needs of your company are going to be met by the template. It is not necessary that you follow the template to the T. Feel free to add something as it really depends on what you think is required and what will work best to your firm.
The assumptions in the template should lean more on the danger side, meaning you should be assuming that the worst can happen, hence, preparing you for the worst. Example, since all telephone calls should be diverted to another site when something happens, you should already put in the plan that you need to make arrangements with the telephone company as soon as possible. Underestimating the enormity of a potential scenario and assuming that the plan can be executed easily during the day the problem arises may compromise your company.
Another thing that the template or plan should have is a detailed information of who will do what. Making an assumption that people already know the plan is a dangerous thing. Information should be disseminated in the whole company. Everyone should have an idea on what is their participation in making the plan happen. In line with this, to make sure that everybody understands how to execute the plan, testing must be done. According to an article by Acutest CEO Barry Varley, testing should be done in ‘high likelihood’ and ‘high impact’ environment. Again, test in the most difficult environment and do not take it lightly.
Lastly, make sure that your company revise and improve the plan regularly. Creating it with a template does not mean that it is a one off deal. You must adjust it according to your firm’s current situation. Example if you think that in a given time, higher security is needed, then make an adjustment according to that need. Not adapting the plan according to your company’s situation can break the purpose of the template.