Define Business Continuity Plan

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Michele Jensen started writing professionally for businesses in 1999.

Her writings include articles for e How, Answerbag and COD, marketing materials and project-related documentation.

The Business Continuity Institute defines the purpose of business continuity management as identifying “potential impacts that threaten an organization and provid[ing] a framework for building resilience with the capability for an effective response that safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation and value-creating activities.” Therefore, the main objectives of a business continuity plan are to identify critical operations and risks, provide a plan to maintain or restore critical operations during a crisis, and create a plan to communicate with key people during the crisis.

The Office of Information Systems at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine defines the goal of a business impact analysis as identifying “an organization’s system resources, critical processes, allowable outage times and potential impacts that may result from a disruption in operations.” Risk assessments “identify vulnerabilities and threats that may impact the business unit's ability to fulfill” its objectives.

By understanding the business and knowing potential risks, companies can reduce the probability that a disruption will occur, minimize the impact of a disruption, protect assets, and address weak points in operations.

The business continuity plan establishes both the Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO).The worksheets Operational and Financial Impacts and Business Continuity Resource Requirements should be distributed to business process managers along with instructions about the process and how the information will be used.After all managers have completed their worksheets, information should be reviewed. Meetings with individual managers should be held to clarify information and obtain missing information.The RPO considers how much of a company’s infrastructure, whether it be data, facilities, processes or other key components, needs to be restored before operations can resume normally.The RPO varies from Zero RPO, where no restoration is necessary, to Point of Failure RPO, where everything that occurred up to the failure must be restored.The RTO becomes the amount of time necessary to resume normal operations.By understanding the RPO and RTO of business units and processes, a plan to restore operations as quickly as possible can be developed.The worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers with sufficient knowledge of the business.Once all worksheets are completed, the worksheets can be tabulated to summarize: Those functions or processes with the highest potential operational and financial impacts become priorities for restoration.This information will be used to develop recovery strategies.If a facility is damaged, production machinery breaks down, a supplier fails to deliver or information technology is disrupted, business is impacted and the financial losses can begin to grow.

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