How to write a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)?

Are you ready for any surprises that might throw you off track? If you're responsible for information security in your organisation, having a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is key to making sure your operations keep running, even when things get tough.

In this article, we're going to dive into what a BCP is, why it matters, what goes into one, and how you can put together your own. Plus, we'll cover the best tips for nailing your BCP and point out the pitfalls you should steer clear of. Find out how to protect your organisation from unforeseen information security threats by implementing a solid BCP.

In this blog post, we'll cover:


What is a BCP?

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is a comprehensive strategy that outlines the steps and framework a business will follow to ensure continuity during and after a disruptive event.

It helps you anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from any unforeseen occurrences that could potentially disrupt operations. A well-designed BCP minimises downtime, safeguards resources, maintains customer trust and preserves brand reputation.

Essential components of a robust BCP include risk management, business impact analysis, crisis communication protocols, alternate operating procedures, and regular testing and updating.

Following best practices like involving key stakeholders, clearly defining roles and responsibilities, establishing clear communication channels, and conducting regular drills are vital for developing an efficient BCP.

Why is a BCP important?

A BCP provides a strategic approach to risk assessment, communication plans, stakeholder engagement, and organisational resilience in the face of disruptive events.

Through a well-thought-out BCP, you can better understand potential risks, develop robust response strategies, and ensure swift recovery after a crisis. 

For instance, doing an impact analysis is a key step in getting ready for what might come your way. It's about figuring out how different disruptions could mess with your main business activities, so you can be one step ahead. This doesn't just cut down on downtime; it also boosts your efficiency and how people see your brand because it shows you're on top of managing risks.

What are the components of a BCP?

The BCP is all about being ready for anything - figuring out what could go wrong, making sure everyone knows what to do when there's trouble, and having a clear game plan for getting back on track fast. This way, the business can bounce back quickly, minimizing downtime and money lost.

Here are some of the key BCP components in more detail.

1. Business impact analysis (BIA)

Business impact analysis (BIA) is a critical component of a BCP that involves identifying risks, assessing potential impacts, determining recovery time objectives, and recovery point objectives for key business functions.

By conducting a comprehensive impact analysis, businesses can prioritize their resources efficiently. Risk mitigation strategies can be developed to address vulnerabilities identified during the analysis. Various methodologies, such as quantitative and qualitative assessments, are employed to gauge the impact on financial, operational, and reputational aspects.

Determining recovery time objectives helps in establishing time frames for restoring critical functions, while recovery point objectives define acceptable data loss limits. Integrating these elements into a cohesive plan ensures readiness to respond effectively to disruptive events and minimise downtime.

2. Risk assessment

Risk assessment in a BCP involves identifying potential risks, assessing their likelihood and impact, developing risk management policies, and prioritising critical business functions based on risk scenarios. This process is crucial in ensuring continuity of operations and minimising disruptions in the event of unforeseen circumstances.

Risk management strategies such as risk avoidance, risk reduction, risk transfer, and risk acceptance play a vital role in preparing an organisation for potential threats. Implementing robust policies for risk mitigation helps in proactively addressing vulnerabilities and enhancing resilience.

By identifying various risk scenarios, businesses can tailor their response plans to specific threats, ensuring that essential functions are safeguarded and can quickly recover in the face of adversity.

3. Recovery strategies

Recovery strategies in a BCP focus on developing actionable plans to address business impacts, recovery strategies for critical functions, conducting recovery testing, and allocating resources effectively for restoration.

These strategies are crucial as they help businesses prioritize recovery efforts based on the impact analysis conducted. By aligning the recovery strategies with the findings of the business impact analysis, organizations can ensure that the most critical functions are restored in a timely manner.

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Recovery testing methodologies play a key role in validating the effectiveness of these strategies, allowing companies to identify gaps and refine their plans. Proper resource allocation is essential for effective restoration, ensuring that the necessary personnel, technology, and facilities are available when needed.

4. Communication plan

A communication plan in a BCP outlines protocols for crisis communication, emergency notifications, stakeholder engagement, and crisis management to ensure effective communication during disruptive events.

It is imperative to establish a clear chain of command and communication flow, detailing who will lead the communication efforts, what platforms will be used for broadcasting updates, and how often updates will be shared.

Crisis communication strategies must take into account different scenarios, such as natural disasters, cyber-attacks, or operational crises. Effective emergency notification protocols should include multiple channels like text messages, emails, and social media alerts to reach stakeholders promptly.

Engaging key stakeholders throughout the crisis ensures transparency and builds trust, while crisis management procedures should provide step-by-step instructions for responding to various types of emergencies and mitigating potential risks.

5. Training and testing

The training and testing in a BCP strategy focuses on conducting awareness training, recovery exercises, supplier assessments, and emergency drills to ensure preparedness and validate the effectiveness of the plan.

Awareness training plays a crucial role in equipping employees with the knowledge and skills to identify potential risks and respond appropriately in a crisis. Regular recovery exercises help organisations test their procedures, evaluate response times, and fine-tune their BCP strategies.

Supplier assessments are essential for understanding the dependencies on critical suppliers and ensuring they also have robust continuity plans. Emergency drills simulate real-life situations, allowing teams to practise their roles under pressure and coordinate with critical suppliers for a seamless continuity response.

How to create a BCP?

To start the process, the first step is to identify critical business functions that are essential for the organisation's operations. This includes pinpointing key processes, systems, and resources that are crucial for business continuity. Next, conducting a thorough risk assessment is imperative to understand potential threats and vulnerabilities that could disrupt these critical functions.

Once risks are identified, it's important to develop effective recovery strategies that outline how to mitigate and respond to these risks in a timely manner. Then, establishing a robust communication plan, including communication channels, key contacts, and procedures, is crucial for ensuring seamless coordination during a crisis.

Finally, implementing training and testing protocols is essential to prepare employees and stakeholders for various scenarios and evaluate the effectiveness of the BCP.

Here's the step-by-step process in more detail.

1. Identify critical business functions

Identifying critical business functions involves mapping dependencies, assessing IT systems, establishing a recovery team, and prioritising essential functions for continuity planning.

By having a clear understanding of which functions are crucial for the ongoing operations of the organisation, businesses can effectively allocate resources and implement strategies to ensure that these key activities remain resilient during disruptive events.

Mapping dependencies helps in recognising how different parts of the organisation interact and rely on each other, enabling a more comprehensive approach to business continuity. IT systems assessment is vital as technology plays a significant role in modern business operations, and ensuring their functionality during crises is paramount.

Forming a dedicated recovery team allows for a focused response to incidents, with assigned roles and responsibilities outlined in advance.

Prioritising essential business functions ensures that critical processes are restored promptly, reducing the overall impact of disruptions on the organisation.

2. Assess risks and potential disasters

Assessing risks and potential disasters in a BCP involves conducting thorough risk assessments, implementing risk mitigation strategies, analysing impact scenarios, and preparing for various risk scenarios.

Understanding the process of risk assessment in BCP is crucial for organisations to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in their operations. By evaluating potential risks, businesses can develop proactive measures to address these vulnerabilities and minimise the impact of disasters. Risk mitigation practices such as implementing redundant systems, creating contingency plans, and regularly testing disaster recovery procedures are essential components of a robust BCP.

Watch our on-demand webinar: Incident response strategies: Navigating today's threat landscape

Impact analysis is also a key aspect, helping organisations assess the consequences of different risk scenarios and prioritise response strategies accordingly.

3. Develop recovery strategies

Developing recovery strategies in a BCP entails creating response procedures, conducting recovery testing, outlining the recovery phase objectives, and ensuring effective restoration processes.

Response procedures play a crucial role in guiding individuals on how to handle different scenarios in a structured manner. These procedures are carefully designed to mitigate risks and ensure a swift and organised response to unforeseen events.

Recovery testing methodologies are employed to assess the readiness of the organisation's recovery strategies and identify any gaps that need to be addressed. The recovery phase objectives serve as specific goals that the organisation aims to achieve during the restoration process to resume business operations as efficiently as possible.

Efficient restoration processes are essential to minimise downtime and mitigate potential losses during disruptions.

4. Create a communication plan

Creating a communication plan in a BCP involves developing protocols for emergency response, crisis communication, incident management, and establishing channels for effective communication during disruptions.

  1. Emergency response procedures are vital components of this plan, outlining clear steps to take when faced with unexpected events. These procedures include guidelines on immediate actions to ensure the safety of individuals and assets.
  2. Crisis communication strategies focus on maintaining transparency and conveying timely information to stakeholders.
  3. Incident management protocols help in coordinating resources and managing the situation effectively. Clear communication channels play a crucial role in ensuring that information flows seamlessly within the organisation during critical incidents, enabling quick decision-making and response.

5. Train employees and test the plan

Training employees and testing the plan in a BCP strategy involves conducting awareness training, organisations can create a culture of preparedness and instil a sense of responsibility towards business continuity. Recovery exercises help teams understand their roles and responsibilities during unforeseen disruptions, allowing for smooth recovery processes.

Tabletop exercises simulate different disaster scenarios, enabling employees to practise decision-making and response strategies in a controlled environment. Emergency drills serve as practical tests of the plan, helping identify gaps, strengths, and areas for improvement in real-time response scenarios.

Engaging staff in these exercises not only enhances their skills but also ensures that the BCP is comprehensive and effective.

What are the best practices for writing a BCP?

Adhering to best practices when writing a BCP is essential for success, including involving key stakeholders, simplifying plan details, and maintaining regular reviews and updates.

  1. Engaging stakeholders in the development of the plan helps ensure that it considers diverse perspectives and expertise.
  2. By keeping the plan design simple and easy to understand, all team members can quickly grasp their responsibilities in case of a disruption.

Continuous review and updates allow for adjustments based on new risks or changes within the organisation, keeping the BCP relevant and effective in real-world scenarios. This iterative approach fosters a culture of preparedness and resilience among all involved parties, from top management to frontline staff.

1. Involve key stakeholders

Involving key stakeholders in the BCP process is crucial for garnering support from leadership, enhancing organisational resilience, and aligning risk management strategies with business objectives.

Engaging key stakeholders ensures that the BCP is not only developed with a comprehensive understanding of the organisation's operations but also fosters a sense of ownership among those who will be directly impacted. With leadership support, stakeholders feel empowered to contribute their expertise, insights, and perspectives, leading to a more robust and holistic approach to BCP.

Involving stakeholders helps in identifying potential vulnerabilities, enhancing preparedness, and fostering a culture of proactive risk management. By aligning risk management practices with broader business goals, organisations can create a more coherent and effective BCP strategy that integrates seamlessly with overall operations.

2. Keep it simple and easy to understand

Simplicity and clarity in a BCP are essential for ensuring easy understanding, compliance with policies, and seamless execution during crisis situations.

A well-designed BCP that is simple and clear not only helps organisations adhere to industry standards but also fosters effective communication among stakeholders. By focusing on straightforward policies, companies can streamline their crisis response efforts, reducing confusion and potential errors.

Promoting a culture of straightforward communication within the organisation can enhance transparency, accountability, and overall resilience during unexpected events. Embracing simplicity in BCP can lead to quicker decision-making, smoother coordination, and increased confidence in navigating challenging situations.

3. Continuously review and update the plan

Regularly reviewing and updating a BCP is critical for maintaining its relevance, ensuring operational resilience, and aligning recovery strategies with evolving business impact scenarios.

By staying proactive in the upkeep of the BCP, organisations enhance their ability to swiftly adapt to changing circumstances and mitigate potential risks effectively. These maintenance practices involve revisiting risk assessments, updating contact information for key personnel, conducting regular drills to test response procedures, and incorporating lessons learned from past incidents.

Incorporating resilience planning into the mix adds another layer of protection by focusing on continuous improvement and adaptability. Aligning recovery strategies with dynamic business impact analysis ensures that the plan remains in sync with current operational priorities and potential threats, fostering a robust and responsive business continuity framework.


What are the common mistakes to avoid when writing a BCP?

Avoiding common mistakes in writing  BCP is crucial, such as neglecting risk scenarios, overlooking incident reporting protocols, and failing to maintain updated emergency contact information. Considering various risk scenarios is essential to ensure that the business continuity plan addresses a wide range of potential threats, from natural disasters to cyber-attacks.

Implementing robust incident reporting mechanisms helps in detecting and responding to crises swiftly, preventing them from escalating. Ensuring the accuracy of emergency contact details is vital for effective crisis response, as delays in reaching key personnel can hinder quick decision-making during emergencies.

Not considering all possible risks

Failing to consider all possible risks in a BCP can lead to gaps in recovery strategies, inadequate incident response plans, and insufficient preparedness for diverse risk scenarios.

This oversight may result in critical vulnerabilities that could cripple the organisation's ability to bounce back from an unexpected disaster. Without a comprehensive understanding of potential risks, businesses may struggle to allocate resources effectively during a crisis, leading to delays in recovery efforts.

Inadequate incident response plans can exacerbate the impact of an incident, prolonging the downtime and increasing financial losses. Insufficient preparedness for various risk scenarios also leaves organisations exposed to heightened operational disruptions and reputational damage.

Not testing the plan regularly

Neglecting regular testing of a BCP can result in unvalidated recovery strategies, inadequate evaluation of response protocols, and ineffective recovery exercises during actual disruptions.

This oversight can have severe consequences during a crisis, as untested plans may fail to deliver the expected outcomes. It is crucial for organisations to actively engage in recovery testing to identify gaps, fine-tune their strategies, and ensure that their response protocols align with current threats and vulnerabilities.

Through thorough evaluation of plan effectiveness, companies can increase their readiness to handle any unforeseen events effectively. Regular recovery exercises not only validate the preparedness of a business but also highlight areas that may require improvement for better resilience.

Not communicating the plan to employees

Failure to communicate the BCP to employees may lead to confusion during emergencies, lack of awareness training, and ineffective coordination among emergency response teams. This lack of communication can result in delays in responding to crises, heightened levels of risk, and potentially severe consequences for both the organisation and its employees.

By ensuring that all employees are well-informed about the BCP through comprehensive awareness training, companies can empower their staff to respond effectively in emergency situations. Establishing clear communication channels within the organisation facilitates the seamless flow of information during crises and enhances the overall efficiency of emergency response efforts.

Effective coordination among emergency response teams is crucial for swift and decisive actions in mitigating risks and minimising the impact of disasters.

Need help setting up your BCP?

If you could use more help and guidance on how to go about information security in your BCP and prepare for various risk scenarios, we'd be happy to consult. Check out our infosec-as-a-service offering or reach out for a chat:


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a BCP?

A BCP, or Business Continuity Plan, is a documented strategy that outlines procedures and processes for an organization to continue operating during and after a disruption or crisis.

Why is it important to have a BCP?

Having a BCP in place can help minimise the negative impact of a disruption or crisis on your business, as it outlines steps to ensure essential functions can continue and operations can be restored as quickly as possible.

Where do I start when writing a BCP?

The first step is to conduct a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) to identify critical business functions and processes, as well as potential threats and vulnerabilities. This information will help guide the development of your BCP.

Who should be involved in creating a BCP?

It is important to involve key stakeholders and departments across your organisation, including management, IT, human resources, and operations, to ensure all critical functions and processes are accounted for in the plan.

How often should a BCP be reviewed and updated?

It is recommended to review and update your BCP at least once a year, or whenever there are significant changes in your business operations, infrastructure, or potential threats.

Are there any resources available to help me write a BCP?

Yes, there are many resources available online, including templates and guides from reputable organisations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Business Continuity Institute (BCI). Additionally, you may consider hiring a consultant or attending training courses to assist in developing a comprehensive BCP.

About the author

DataGuard Insights DataGuard Insights
DataGuard Insights

DataGuard Insights provides expert analysis and practical advice on security and compliance issues facing IT, marketing and legal professionals across a range of industries and organisations. It acts as a central hub for understanding the intricacies of the regulatory landscape, providing insights that help executives make informed decisions. By focusing on the latest trends and developments, DataGuard Insights equips professionals with the information they need to navigate the complexities of their field, ensuring they stay informed and ahead of the curve.

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