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Free Business Continuity Plan Templates

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In this article, you’ll find the most useful free, downloadable business continuity plan (BCP) templates, in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and PDF formats. Customize the templates to fit the needs of your business, ensuring you maintain critical operations at all times.

Business Continuity Plan Template

Business Continuity Plan Template

Use this template to document and track your business operations in the event of a disruption or  a disaster to maintain critical processes. With space to record business function recovery priorities, recovery plans, and alternate site locations, this template allows you to plan efficiently for disruption and minimize downtime, so your business maintains optimal efficiency. This template is available for download in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and PDF formats.

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IT Service Continuity Plan Template

IT Service Continuity Plan template

This template is geared specifically to IT business operations and aims to maintain IT processes despite any possible harmful disruption. Use this template to document recovery objectives, teams, and strategies in order to accurately capture all facets of the continuity plan needed for an IT team. This template is available in both Word and PDF formats.

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Business Continuity Framework Template

Business Continuity Framework Template

This template outlines the structure involved in creating a business continuity plan. It provides an easy, comprehensive way to detail the steps that will comprise your unique BCP. Use this template to plan each phase of a typical BCP, including the business impact analysis, recovery strategies, and plan development. This template can serve as an overall framework for your larger BCP plan.

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Business Continuity Program Template

Business Continuity Program template

Similar to the business continuity plan template, this template documents the steps involved in maintaining normal business operations during an unplanned disruption or disaster. Using this template, you can plan out the critical elements needed to continue business as usual, including recovery priorities, backup and restoration plans, and alternate site locations. This template is available for download in both Microsoft Word and PDF formats.

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Business Continuity Procedure Template

Business Continuity Procedure Template

Much like the business continuity framework template, this template helps users create a thorough, streamlined BCP by detailing the procedure involved in creating and maintaining a plan, as well as implementing one. Use this template to document everything from a business impact analysis to plan development, plan testing, and exercises. Download this template in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or PDF to get started.

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What Is the Purpose of a Business Continuity Plan?

Individuals create a business continuity plan to coordinate the business recovery of their respective areas or departments in the event of a short or long-term disruption. A BCP contains all of the information necessary to recover business functions, should a facilities disaster occur.

A BCP not only targets business operations, but also ensures the safety of an office building’s employees and visitors, and mitigates (if not altogether eliminates) the damage that disruptions or disasters can cause.

It is important to practice and document preparations prior to a disaster so that you are prepared when a threat does emerge. It’s also essential to document the plan efficiently in order to guarantee a speedy business recovery and the continuity of all critical business functions. Each department in a business should have its own BCP, and all plans should be current and active. Any changes to the plan should be fully communicated to the rest of the department, team, or business.

In addition to the aforementioned pros of a BCP, this type of plan also provides the following benefits to companies who regularly update their documentation:

  • Allows companies to officially declare a disaster and alert senior management

  • Assists in the development of an official public statement regarding a disaster and its effects on a business

  • Monitors a business’s progress and presents the recovery status

  • Provides ongoing support and guidance to teams with pre-planned operations

  • Reviews critical processing, schedules, and backlogs to keep everyone up to date on status

  • Ensures businesses have both the resources and the information to deal with an unforeseen emergency

  • Minimizes the risk that an emergency might pose to employees, clients, and vendors, etc.

  • Provides a response for both man-made and environmental disasters

  • Improves overall business communication and response plans

  • Summarizes both the operational and the financial impacts resulting from the loss of critical business functions

  • Allows organizations to plan for a loss of function that has potentially larger, more severe consequences

  • Supplies compliance or insurance with the reasons for a plan

How Do You Write a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan offers a comprehensive, standardized overview of the processes, steps, teams, and resources involved in maintaining normal business operations during an unplanned, disruptive event. Writing a BCP may seem daunting, but it merely documents the vital resources, processes, and information that keep your business running normally.

Once a disaster occurs and management is notified, the company should make a preliminary assessment of the damage and then activate the BCP plan. The steps below detail how to begin writing the BCP, so you can activate it after a disaster occurs.

The first step in writing a business continuity plan is identifying its scope. Determine the BCP parameters necessary to keep your business running smoothly, and include the main objectives that help guide the plan. The scope can range from critical to essential to necessary or desirable.

The next step in writing a BCP is identifying the people that must be involved in each process and dividing different departments into teams that would help maintain the crucial business functions. First and foremost, your organization requires a business continuity coordinator who’s sufficiently knowledgeable regarding processes to delegate and maintain the BCP when you need it. Additionally, each department should have a team leader as well as a backup team leader. Following are the other parties involved in the process:

  • Incident Commander: This is the person responsible for all aspects of an emergency response.

  • Emergency Response Team: This refers to the group of people in charge of responding to an emergency or disruption.

  • Information Technology Recovery Team: This is the group responsible for recovering all important IT services.

  • Alternate Site/Location Operation Team: This refers to the group responsible for maintaining business operations at an alternate site.

  • Facilities Management Team: This is the group responsible for managing all of the main business facilities and determining the necessary responses to maintain them in light of a disaster or disruption.

  • Department Upper Management: These are the key stakeholders and upper management employees who govern the BCP decisions.

In addition to these specific mandatory positions, you should consider other people and resources when writing the plan, including employees, office space, equipment and machinery, production facilities, inventory, and third-party services or vendors.

After identifying both the scope and the people involved in the BCP, you should conduct a business impact analysis (BIA) in order to effectively forecast the potential impact that a disruption or disaster could have on a business. In addition to the BIA, you should also draft a risk assessment (RA) for the business to evaluate and prioritize larger risks and smaller risks.

The next step is to strategize how your business should respond to a disruption, based on your BIA and risk assessment. During this phase, you will determine many of the core details of the BCP, including the following:

  • Alternate Site Relocation: This includes the location that the business will move to after a disruption occurs, the transportation and resources required to move the business, and the processes you need to maintain at this facility.

  • Interim Procedures: These are the critical processes that must continue to take place, either in their original forms or in an alternate manner.

  • Restoration of Critical Data: This concerns the data you must immediately recover in order to maintain normal business functions.

  • Work Backlog: This includes the work that you must do immediately after business has stalled.

  • Communication Strategy: This determines the way in which team members, customers, other employees, and third-party entities will communicate during an emergency.

  • Recovery Strategy for IT Services: This includes the steps you take to restore the IT processes that are necessary to the business.

  • Recovery Time and Recovery Point Objectives: This refers to the maximum amount of time that a business can halt its processes and that data can be lost before there are severe effects on productivity.

  • Manual Workarounds: This details the ways in which a business can operate manually should all failsafe measures break down.

Another significant feature of your BCP are the critical appendices, located at the end of the plan, that outline specific information you may need to reference once you put the plan into place. These appendices may vary based on the particulars of your BCP, but some general plan appendices include the following:

    Employee contact list

  • Recovery priorities for critical business functions

  • Alternate site recovery resource requirements (could also include alternate site transportation and accommodation information)

  • Emergency operations center locations

  • Forms and supplies

  • Vendor or third-party list

  • Computer system reports

  • Critical software resources

  • Recovery task lists

  • Recommended office recovery list

  • Business policy or handbook

After you have identified and determined all of these components, you can write the BCP by leveraging these key aspects of the business. Put together the objectives, scope, people involved, BIA, risk assessment, and additional components in order to complete a successful and comprehensive recovery plan and strategy. You should test and adjust this plan as needed to factor in any business changes and to maintain currency.

The final step is to implement and test the BCP in full. Your company should conduct training activities throughout the business and across all teams to ensure that everyone is aware of the plan and knows how to respond to a disaster. This training can take the form of an orientation or education, walk-through drills, functional drills, or full-scale run-throughs. These exercises will ensure that the preparedness and response strategies you’ve developed in the BCP actually work when put to the test.

What Are the Important Components of a Business Continuity Plan?

A BCP, when written correctly, should be a comprehensive plan of action, unique to your business, that provides guidance on how to deal with a disruption, emergency, or disaster. To help you gain a better sense of the key components included in a BCP, here is an example table of contents that lists each section of the document:

  • Business name (usually appears on the title page and includes the date of BCP completion)

  • Purpose and scope

  • Policy information

  • Emergency management and response

  • Business impact analysis

  • Risk assessment

  • BCP (with step-by-step instructions)

  • Relevant appendices

Keep in mind that every business is different — therefore, no two BCPs look the same. Tailor your business continuity plan to your company, and make sure the document captures all the information necessary to maintain your business operations. Having everything you need to know in the event of an emergency is the most important part of a BCP.

 

Tips For Writing Your Business Continuity Plan

With its many moving parts and considerations, a business continuity plan can seem intimidating. But, if you follow these helpful tips, you can write, track, and maintain a strong BCP:

  • Take the process seriously.

  • Keep it as simple and targeted as possible.

  • Limit the content to actual, tangible disaster response actions.

  • Be flexible when it comes to who you involve, what resources you need, and how you achieve the most effective plan.

  • Make sure you are using the most up-to-date, correct information.

  • Keep in mind the minimum amount of information or resources you need to keep your business running in the event of a disaster.

  • Strongly leverage the data you accumulate in your BIA and RA to make the planning process simpler.

  • Be specific in your directions.

  • Get approval from management early on.

  • Circulate the document and make sure employees are both aware of it and have a chance to review it or ask questions.

  • Make the document available in hard copy for easy access.

  • Continually test, review, and maintain your plan to keep it up to date.

  • Keep the BCP current with business updates.

  • In order to guarantee that your company keeps running smoothly in the event of a disruption, disaster, or emergency, complete test runs that indicate the BCP covers all the significant aspects of your business.

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