Business Continuity Plan or BCP, concisely, is a systematic, proactive guideline defining how an organization shall operate, recover and restore itself safely with critical departments, its data, assets and functions from a possible disaster situation. In simple terms, Business Continuity Plan is a methodology that helps an organization to continue operating in a disaster like floods, earthquakes or even terrorist attacks.
BCP is an evolution of more reactive forms of recovery plans that were used in the industry. These forms of disaster recovery planning were set methods on how the business can be resumed after a disruption.
With BCP, however, the organizations are more enabled with continuous delivery of products and services with minimum impact on the stakeholders.
BCP can differ in nature from one organization to another; however, a comprehensive BCP project has the form of a standard life cycle comprising of analysis, design, implementation, testing/revision and maintenance phases. These result in a printed or online reference manual illustrating the activities that need to be done before and after a disaster situation.
The initial stage of a BCP project commences with an estimation and ranking of the values of the resources and assets that will be directly or indirectly subjected to a disaster. This is essential since it gives a clear direction as to what needs to be provided with a higher importance for recovering and restoration when the time is a constraint upon an imminent or impending disaster. Furthermore, in most scenarios, governance structures are set up defining roles and responsibilities.
Based on these, analyses are made on the impacts and threats to the organization that are emanated from the disaster. Subsequently in this stage, a document will be prepared detailing the critical and non-critical assets to recover and restore.
In the design stage of any BCP project, based on the previous analysis and estimations, a detailed disaster recover plan is created summing up the measures and arrangements for business continuity. This also includes the asset, data recovery and restoration locations including the transport means. However, a proper evaluation is done on the design when the system is implemented. Upon training of the employees on the actions and responsibilities in a disaster situation, their inputs are used to bring up an optimal plan, which will be tested subsequently using simulated scenarios. In this stage, approval or conflict resolution is carried out, as the plan is executed in a near real-life situation.
In addition to these stages, it is essential that a maintenance plan is carried out periodically, considering the organizational process changes and ideas of the employees. This eventually helps an organization to be better equipped and prepared when a disaster occurs. Failure to properly maintain or even initiate a BCP may lead to catastrophic and irrevocable damage to any organization.
Haag S., Cummins M. (2008). Enterprise Infrastructure, Metrics, and Business Continuity Planning. Management Information Systems for the Information Age (7th ed.), 327 – 329.