What is 'Business Continuity Planning (BCP)'

Business continuity planning (BCP) is the creation of a strategy through the recognition of threats and risks facing a company, with an eye to ensure that personnel and assets are protected and able to function in the event of a disaster. Business continuity planning involves defining potential risks, determining how those risks will affect operations, implementing safeguards and procedures designed to mitigate those risks, testing those procedures to ensure that they work, and periodically reviewing the process to make sure that it is up to date.

BREAKING DOWN 'Business Continuity Planning (BCP)'

Businesses can face a host of disasters that range from minor to catastrophic. Business continuity planning is typically meant to help a company continue operating in the case of many or major disasters, such as fires, but it may not be as effective if a large portion of the population is affected, such as in the case of a disease outbreak. Insurance does not cover all costs of such circumstances and cannot replace customers that defect to the competition because of them. One example of BCP would be a finance company based in a major city backing up its computer and client files offsite, so that if something would happen to the corporate office, satellite offices would still have access to important information.

Four Steps to Developing a Business Continuity Plan

  • Conduct a business impact analysis to identify time-sensitive or critical business functions and processes and the resources that support them.
  • Identify, document, and implement to recover critical business functions and processes.
  • Organize a business continuity team and compile a business continuity plan to manage a business disruption.
  • Conduct training for the business continuity team and testing and exercises to evaluate recovery strategies and the plan.

Business Continuity Impact Analysis

An important part of developing a BCP is a business continuity impact analysis. It identifies the effects resulting from disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.

To aid in running a business continuity analysis, FEMA provides the Operational & Financial Impacts worksheet can be used to compile the required information. The worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers that know a business well. Once all worksheets are completed, the worksheets can be tabulated to summarize:

  • The operational and financial impacts resulting from the loss of individual business functions and process
  • The point in time when loss of a function or process would result in the identified business impacts

Those functions or processes with the highest potential operational and financial impacts become priorities for restoration. The point in time when a function or process must be recovered, before unacceptable consequences could occur, is often referred to as the “Recovery Time Objective.”

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