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A business continuity plan is a form of contingency planning where you consider how your business could best recover from severe or critical incidents. A good plan should identify your key business activities (like selling products or services), the biggest risks to those activities, and how to respond and recover if any of those risks manifest in the future. This article will explain:

  • what a business continuity plan is;
  • what details it should include; and 
  • whether your business needs to have one. 

What Is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan is a key part of contingency planning. The plan should help you understand the most important parts of your business, including business activities and people. Likewise, the plan can help identify risks to those parts of the business. These risks should encompass likely possibilities and less likely emergencies that may endanger your business’ operations altogether. 

Additionally, the larger and more sophisticated your business, the more moving parts it will have. Accordingly, it will be more important to have a plan of action for situations that threaten your business operations. It is helpful to think through these steps in advance. Further, having a plan will avoid stressful brainstorming in the immediate aftermath of a serious incident or emergency.

What Should a Business Continuity Plan Include?

There is a range of strategies that a business continuity plan should include. Likewise, these details will differ depending on your specific business and industry. They will also differ depending on your geographical location in some cases. For instance, if your business is located in an earthquake-prone place, it may be extremely relevant to assess if earthquakes could disrupt your supply lines.

When thinking about your plan, consider answering the following questions:

  • What are your business’ key operations and activities? Detail what your business’ products and services are and anything essential to their delivery, like important materials.
  • What are the biggest threats to those activities? Think about what the likely risks are and what less likely emergencies might look like.
  • Who are the key individuals and employees in your business responsible for those activities? Consider whether some staff are irreplaceable or heavily relied on, and what would happen if those key people are unavailable.
  • What are your business’ key connections? If there are essential clients or suppliers, think about how to respond if they leave your business.
  • What would your business do if it needed to relocate, whether temporarily or permanently? 
  • Who can take charge of the business if you are suddenly absent or unavailable?
  • What insurance do you have for emergency events? Is this insurance sufficient to get your business back on track? 

Does Your Business Need a Business Continuity Plan?

It is certainly best practice to have a business continuity plan. However, you are not legally required to have one, and there may be other documents or policies that your business should look to have in place first. Although, as your business grows into a larger and more complicated organisation, perhaps with increasingly complex supply chains and commercial contracts, it will become essential to have a plan in place. 

Note that a business continuity plan is different from emergency procedures. Emergency procedures should set out how your business and staff should respond ‘in the moment’ in the event of an emergency and how to protect themselves and stay safe. A business continuity plan, by contrast, is more focused on what happens after the emergency. It will detail a strategy to getting your business back up and running in a reasonable timeframe. However, just like emergency procedures, you should test your business continuity plan from time to time with your employees. Testing ensures your employees understand what to do if the plan needs to be put into action.

Key Takeaways

Your business may not immediately need a business continuity plan if it is at an early stage of growth. However, all businesses are at least somewhat vulnerable to critical risks or emergency situations. Having a plan is the best way to identify these risks and situations, and clarify how your business would respond and get itself back on track if the worst occurs. If you would like more information about what to include in a business continuity plan or if you have any questions, contact LegalVision’s corporate lawyers on 0800 005 570 or complete the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan looks at the serious risks to the business’ operations and activities and how to respond to situations where those activities are jeopardised somehow.

Is a Business Continuity Plan just about responding to natural disasters?

No, natural disasters are just one of the key risks to your business that may require a plan to be put into action.

Is it legally required to have a Business Continuity Plan?

No, it is not legally required to have a business continuity plan, though it is considered best practice to do so.

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