Business Continuity Plan

Power through business disruptions and ascertain operational stability with a practical and effective business continuity plan

Published April 30th, 2021

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan is a practical guide developed by companies to enable continuous operations in the event of major business disruptions like natural disasters and global lockdowns. Business continuity planning usually involves analyzing the impact of disrupted business processes and determining recovery strategies with management. Business continuity plans should also be properly documented and tested through exercises for optimal effectiveness.

business continuity plan

Business Continuity Plan | View Sample PDF

This article features:

  1. Importance of business continuity planning
  2. Business continuity plan vs. disaster recovery plan
  3. How to develop a business continuity plan
  4. Business continuity plan example
  5. Business continuity planning tool
  6. Business continuity plan templates

Importance of Business Continuity Planning

With economies impaired by the COVID-19 pandemic, business continuity has increasingly become a top priority for organizations around the world. A business continuity plan (BCP) is important because it helps companies maintain essential functions amid or after emergency situations, protecting their reputation and minimizing financial losses. Moreover, it helps employers stay on top of disruptive incidents and empower workers to complete job tasks with confidence.

Business Continuity Plan vs. Disaster Recovery Plan

The main difference between a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan is that the former encompasses the latter—that is, business continuity planning includes disaster recovery planning. ISO 22301:2012 is the international standard for business continuity management (BCM) systems, and it outlines how specific plans for disaster recovery, incident preparedness, and emergency response may be needed rather than just one large plan for business continuity.

How to Develop a Business Continuity Plan

Creating a business continuity plan seems to be a daunting task at first, especially for managers of operations, information technology, and human resources as they are often designated with this duty. As recommended by the International Labour Organization (ILO), listed below are general steps in developing a business continuity plan for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs):

  • Step 1: Determine the risk profile through a self-assessment using the 4Ps framework—People, Processes, Profits, and Partnerships
  • Step 2: Identify key products, services, or functions
  • Step 3: Establish the business continuity plan objectives
  • Step 4: Evaluate the potential impact of disruptions to the business and its workers
  • Step 5: List actions to protect the business
  • Step 6: Organize contact lists
  • Step 7: Maintain, review, and continuously update the business continuity plan

Business Continuity Plan Example

When planning for business continuity, it helps to break down its elements into quickly-understood segments. Keeping the plan user-focused can also help ensure usability and promote transferability. The following is a brief ILO example of how a small business owner developed a business continuity plan to mitigate the impact of COVID-19:

COVID-19 Risk Assessment: high-risk profile

Key Products: different types of canned sardines

Objectives:

  • Maximize the physical and emotional safety of the owner and workers
  • Resume operations as quickly as possible following disruptions
  • Make sure that key products are resilient to disruptions associated with COVID-19
  • Safeguard supply chain
  • Ensure that the enterprise fulfils its contractual commitments with clients

Potential Impact of Disruptions:

  • Workers falling sick (owner’s/suppliers’/support services’)
  • Government restrictions on freedom of movement could affect the owner’s (and the suppliers’) ability to get to work
  • Government restrictions on accessing the port could affect the customers’ ability to get the products to market
  • Inability of government utilities to provide services (water and electricity were of chief concern)
  • Drop in demand for products

4Ps Framework Action Points:

  • People (lives of workers and family members)
    Limit the contact points to a single one in the business and set up a sanitation point to lessen the exposure there. Review the standard ways of working and adapt to physical distancing criteria. This would require new shift arrangements to be discussed with the workers. Moreover, prepare for increased absenteeism.
  • Profits (revenue generation)
    Work out daily operational costs (payroll, rent, supplies, etc.) and make simulations based on the financial needs if key disruptions occurred. Notice opportunities for increased sales as well. Discuss with main suppliers about the availability of alternative sources and put agreements in place to enable this.
  • Partnerships (enabling environment to carry out business activities)
    Strike an agreement with other SME owners to share safety measures and practices for each of their businesses. Agree to a common set of procedures to keep workers safe and share the cost of getting information on how to handle workplace issues like changes to working time, possible redundancies, and other HR issues.

Contact Lists:

  • Contact numbers of authorities and third parties (police, emergency services, firefighters, nearest hospitals, insurance company)
  • List of workers, their positions and contact details (mobile phone and email address) as well as worker’s emergency contact details
  • List of clients, suppliers, contractors and government agencies the owner worked with, including the contact person and details (mobile phone, email address, and street address)
  • Communication methods to connect with workers during the COVID-19 crisis (Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.)
  • Staff emergency call tree

Updates:

  • Review the business continuity plan every week to improve its effectiveness
  • Update risk assessments, strategies for business continuity, and other procedures
  • Ensure continual improvement of all the process included in the business continuity plan

Business Continuity Planning Tool

Even when disruptions can force businesses to shut down, yours doesn’t have to. Aim for operational stability by developing and implementing a business continuity plan with the help of a simple tool like iAuditor by SafetyCulture. iAuditor is a digital platform that empowers people to work safely and efficiently through mobile checklists, actions, and reporting.

Using iAuditor, here’s how different companies around the world reached business continuity amid COVID-19:

Coming Out Strong as the Pandemic Unfolded

Footasylum is a sports fashion retailer in the UK with 70 stores and over 2,700 employees nationwide. Because of the emerging novel coronavirus outbreak, they knew it was inevitable for retail stores to close without an idea when they could safely reopen.

They used iAuditor to safely reopen stores by conducting a preliminary COVID-19 store opening check which provided incredibly quick insight on the current state of the stores and created actions for what needed to be done to control health and safety risks.

Now that stores are open, the team uses iAuditor to monitor daily activity through a retail COVID-19 daily requirements check, giving the management confidence that they are doing everything that is reasonably practicable to ensure the safety of their staff and customers.

“We have come out of this as a really strong team, and pride is really high,” said Jane Buck, Head of Human Resources and Health and Safety.

Acting at Lightning Speed to Protect Hundreds of Staff and Thousands of Customers

Statewide Independent Wholesalers (SIW) is a grocery wholesaler that holds and delivers goods for most of the major supermarkets in Tasmania, Australia. When COVID-19 hit, they needed to make decisions quickly due to the risk which was significantly high.

The grocer giant stayed completely focused on meeting COVID-19 hygiene and distancing requirements, as they do around 75 checks every week. Health, Safety, and Environmental Manager Courtney Newman shared, “iAuditor is a really valuable tool to do that. It’s made a huge difference to our data collection, and our behavior observation space, too.”

They managed to minimize 6.5 hours of admin time which was useful when they needed that time to keep themselves informed on the latest news and guidance. Courtney continued, “I took the iAuditor program and used it the way I wanted to. This means if any of our teams are doing anything of risk, we work with them to make sure they adhere to the guidelines.”

Navigating the Pandemic and Beyond with Safety, Consistency, and Quality

Snooze Eatery is a popular chain of restaurants with 43 locations in the US. During one of the most uncertain periods for hospitality businesses, they used iAuditor to build up a culture of safety, consistency, and quality.

During reopening, the team created the brand new role, ‘Safety Dancers’, who are in charge of cleaning, sanitizing, and managing the capacity of the eatery. This meant that guests could trust the safety and cleanliness standards of the restaurant, and enjoy a cup of coffee in bliss.

iAuditor has allowed them to reassure their employees and guests during a time where trust in public spaces is low because of the potential health and safety risks. They also don’t just implement COVID-19 protocols with iAuditor—it’s a safeguard for food and service quality across all their locations.

“It’s a unique tool. The inspections and templates make you go through a checklist, but it also makes you give proof in the form of photos and notes, and to take care of things on the spot. It holds you to the utmost perfect standard in every way.”

—Katie Birner, Snooze Eatery Assistant General Manager

SafetyCulture Staff Writer

Shine Colcol

Shine has been professionally writing about virtually anything since her internship for a digital publisher of niche blogazines. She is passionate about building a culture of continuous improvement in the environmental, health, safety, and quality space through well-researched, engaging, and impactful content.

Shine has been professionally writing about virtually anything since her internship for a digital publisher of niche blogazines. She is passionate about building a culture of continuous improvement in the environmental, health, safety, and quality space through well-researched, engaging, and impactful content.