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  • Writer's pictureSara Millis

Business Continuity Policy: What is it, and when do you need it?

Whether you are new to business or bringing your business online, you need to plan for what you'll do when disaster strikes. A business continuity policy is a must-have document to guide you through those moments.

In this blog post, we'll explain your business continuity policy so you can set it up effectively.

Team meeting around a table,  with their laptops and coffee

What is a business continuity policy, and what is its primary purpose?

A business continuity policy is a guideline for the procedures and tasks that ensure your critical business functions continue during a disruption. Disruptions can include hacks, rogue employees, or data loss.

The policy typically includes strategies for disaster recovery, risk management, and contingency planning.

When do you need it in place? From day one. But if you read this and are several weeks or years into your business, start one today.

What's the difference between a business continuity policy and a plan?

A business continuity policy and plan are critical components of a company's disaster recovery efforts.

The policy typically guides the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders, the company's overall objectives, and the framework for assessing and managing various risks. It may also specify the types of incidents that could trigger the activation of the plan and the conditions under which it should be initiated.

A business continuity plan outlines the specific steps to be followed during an emergency. It includes instructions for emergency response, business continuity, disaster recovery, and a communication plan for keeping stakeholders informed and up-to-date. 

The plan also outlines the resources required to support the company's recovery efforts, such as personnel, equipment, and facilities, and specifies the timeline for recovery.

We advise creating your policy and then documenting your plan within that policy. By doing this, you and your employees will have access to correct information as and when needed.

The four pillars of business continuity you need to consider

To create an effective business continuity policy, there are four main pillars that you need to consider. These pillars are:

1. Risk assessment

Your risk assessment should identify potential risks and threats to your business operations and data. By conducting a thorough risk assessment, you can determine which areas of your business are most vulnerable and create a plan to mitigate those risks.

2. Business impact analysis

By undergoing an impact analysis, you should be able to identify the potential impact of a disruption to your business operations (financial, operational, and reputational). Knowing this information, you can then plan to mitigate your risk.

3. Business continuity plan development

Your plan should include procedures for communication, data backup and recovery, and other critical business functions. It should also include who is responsible for what and when which is particularly important from a compliance perspective.

4. Testing and training

Regular testing and training can help you identify areas for improvement in your policy and plan, ensuring that your employees have the ethical tools and means to respond in an emergency.

The basic outline of your Business Continuity Policy

The essential components of your policy are as follows:

  • Policy statement - This section should clearly outline the policy's purpose, scope, and expected outcomes.

  • Roles and responsibilities - You should clearly define all personnel involved in the planning, implementing, and executing of the Business Continuity Policy.

  • Business impact analysis - A detailed analysis of the potential impact of disruptions on business operations and an assessment of the criticality of each business function should be conducted.

  • Risk assessment - This section should identify potential risks and threats to business operations and describe each risk's likelihood and potential impact.

  • Recovery strategies - This section should outline the strategy and procedures for recovering business operations during a disruption or disaster.

  • Plan development - This section should detail the steps in developing and implementing the Business Continuity Plan, including training and testing.

  • Plan maintenance - Describe how you will regularly maintain your plan and with which staff members.

Is there a business continuity policy template you can use?

Consider using a business continuity policy template as a starting point to create a policy that meets your business's unique needs. You can find them online fairly quickly.

A template can provide a framework for organising your thoughts and identifying the key elements that should be included in your policy, such as the plan's scope, roles and responsibilities, communication protocols, and recovery procedures. 

Remember that while a template can save time and money, it must be heavily adapted to your business situation and the systems and data you manage.

If you have found this helpful, please give the blog post a like and check out our other helpful IT guides.

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