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Total Guide to Business Continuity Plans - Samples, Examples and Templates

Updated on June 7, 2012

While every company hopes that their operations will run smoothly, there is always the danger that problems will arise. This can run to serious natural and man-made disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, fires and terrorist events. Fortunately these are rare occurrences, although they cannot be completely ruled out and prudent planning for any company can involve the preparation of business continuity plans.

These are used to identify the potential risks and disasters that a company may face, as well as setting out ways in which they can be dealt with to ensure that operations can continue and quickly return to normal. Those involved in preparing this type of plan can find a variety of useful resources that can help in the task. The video below is extremely useful in showing you why you need a business continuity plan and gives you a solid overview of the plan itself.

Why do I need a business continuity plan

Business Continuity Planning is important

Don't let your business become another statistic.
Don't let your business become another statistic. | Source

National U.S. Standards

There are a couple of national US standards that cover business continuity planning and these can be useful resources for the management of a company to have available in understanding the basic requirements. NFPA 1600 is the Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs. This is produced by the National Fire Protection Association and the document was prepared to establish a set of common criteria that can be used by organizations for disaster management and continuity planning.

Companies involved in the financial sector can also look to the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) Business Continuity Planning handbook for requirements specifically aimed at this type of business. The standards are essentially for information and gaining some knowledge of these can be a useful starting point for those tasked with producing continuity plans for their business organization.

Where to Find a Sample Business Continuity Plan

Continuity plans have been used by organizations for many years now and there are a variety of places where samples and examples can be found. Some of the better options include the following.

Tech Target: The Tech Target website provides basic guidance on the preparation of a business continuity plan for small to medium sized companies. This includes details of the elements that should be included to create a successful continuity plan and how the information should be organized. The website also has a sample business continuity plan available for free and this can easily be downloaded and used by company management as a basic template for preparing their plan. For smaller companies, the Tech Target website can be a useful resource for continuity planning.

Disaster Recovery: This website is an excellent resource for business continuity planning and for those looking to gain an initial insight into producing a plan it can be worth having a look through. It includes sections on the basics of continuity planning, the steps that need to be taken in the process of preparing a plan and the benefits it can provide. Those using the website can also sign up to get an example of a business continuity plan. Overall the site can be an excellent resource for getting someone up to speed on the requirements for producing a plan.

Ready.gov: Another website that has a business continuity plan example available is the Ready.gov website. This website was established by FEMA and provides information and a plan example that will help a business produce a continuity plan following the guidelines set out in NFPA 1600. It takes the user through a number of steps including Program Management, Planning, Implementation, Testing and Improvement. The outcome of this should be a comprehensive plan that suits the needs of a company with regard to disaster planning and business continuity.

Business Continuity Plan Software

There are options available for those that want to use business continuity software to produce their plan. This can help speed up the process and examples include Express BCP. Their software includes a few different business continuity plan template options including Threat and Risk Assessment, Pandemic Business Continuity Plan and Business Impact Analysis. This provides a few options to create a plan that is best suited for an organization.

Other options available on the market include Evergreen, which offers online and software options for business continuity planning, and The BCP Generator, which incorporates a guide and template to help produce a continuity plan. While there is typically a cost involved in buying business continuity planning software, this can be weighed against the potential savings that will be made in the quicker time involved in preparing a plan.

Once produced most plans created by software are relatively easy to update also, which can be an added advantage to choosing this method of producing a plan.

Free training available in many states, e.g. Missouri

Business Continuity Training

For those interested in business continuity training to help in understanding the requirements for a plan, there are a few options available. This includes The Institute for Business Continuity Training, which offers online training courses, as well as a limited number of 3-day in-person teaching sessions during each year. These are aimed at teaching best principles and practices associated with business continuity planning.

It is typically aimed more at those in larger companies who may have to produce a number of continuity plans across their organization. One of the major advantages of attending the in-person courses is that participants receive a free CD-ROM that has a huge supply of data, including business continuity plan example documents, continuity plan templates and presentations about continuity planning. Those that participate in the online course receive a detailed business continuity plan and presentation notes, which are designed for use by a business organization as a template for producing a continuity plan.

Companies need to have plans in place to ensure they can survive and prosper following a disaster. Although the risk of disaster is generally minimal, it cannot be ignored completely and planning for the eventuality is a sensible course of action.

This is done through business continuity plans and every company should considering preparing these. There are a variety of resources that can help with this and those shown above are a few of the options that can help business organizations of all sizes prepare a continuity plan in an effective and efficient manner.

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