Process Street

Business Continuity Plan Testing Checklist

Identify critical business functions and processes, establish objective for the continuity plan, identify critical resources needed to support business functions, approval: identification of critical resources.

  • Identify critical resources needed to support business functions Will be submitted

Develop recovery strategies for all identified critical business functions

Create business continuity plan document outlining the plan, establish testing schedule for the continuity plan, approval: testing schedule.

  • Establish testing schedule for the continuity plan Will be submitted

Identify and train the team responsible for the implementation of the business continuity plan

Conduct initial business continuity plan test, evaluate the results of the initial test, document findings and incorporate into the business continuity plan, approval: documented findings.

  • Evaluate the results of the initial test Will be submitted
  • Document findings and incorporate into the business continuity plan Will be submitted

Train employees on roles during a disaster or disruption

Conduct a full-scale test of the business continuity plan, evaluate and document results of full-scale test, approval: evaluation of full-scale test.

  • Conduct a full-scale test of the business continuity plan Will be submitted
  • Evaluate and document results of full-scale test Will be submitted

Enact changes based on the results of the full-scale test

Schedule regular reviews and updates of the business continuity plan, submit final business continuity plan for final approval, approval: final business continuity plan.

  • Submit final Business Continuity Plan for final approval Will be submitted

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ISO 22301 Business Continuity Simplified: Fortify Your Business Against Disruption

By Andy Marker | June 22, 2020 (updated September 15, 2022)

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In this article, you’ll find expert tips and implementation guides, and you'll learn how ISO 22301 can buffer your business against disasters. 

Included on this page, you’ll find an International Standards Organization (ISO) 22301 audit checklist template , a simplified ISO 22301 cheat-sheet , and an ISO 22301 self-assessment checklist , as well as examples of ISO 22301 in action and an ISO 22301 quick-start guide .

What Is ISO 22301?

ISO 22301 is a global standard for business continuity planning requirements to help organizations protect themselves against disruptions. The most current version is 22301:2019, Security and resilience - Business continuity management systems - Requirements.

The requirements in ISO 22301 address disruptive incidents that can be natural or human-made, widespread or local, intentional or unintentional, such as a snowstorm, a broken water main, an epidemic, a data breach, or a phishing attack. Large or small, for- and nonprofit organizations alike can use ISO 22301.

The Business Manager’s Quick-Start Guide to ISO 22301

The ISO 22301 standard can provide benefits for your business continuity planning, even if your organization chooses not to pursue certification, or the review process that confirms your business continuity system meets all ISO 22301 requirements. 

"Certification is nice, but not required,” says Mart Rovers of InterProm. “First, seek compliance. That way, you know that your business continuity management practices are in better shape." You can start to create a solid business continuity plan with just a few simple steps, which you can also download as this ISO 22301 Quick-Start Guide .

  • Check If You Already Have Continuity Plans: Find out if your organization already has business continuity plans. Search through your document management system and ask management or long-time employees. Organizations sometimes create and quickly forget about resources, or store responses locally in an informal system.  As Andrew Nichols of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center suggests, if your organization already implements other ISO standards, such as ISO 9001 or ISO 27000, you can leverage some of the common requirement elements for your 22301 plan.
  • Identify Missing Components: Conduct a gap analysis of existing policies and processes to see what business continuity resources you need. According to Mart Rovers, one way to conduct a self-assessment is to copy into a spreadsheet each phrase of the ISO 22301 standard that contains the word "shall." Then, determine gaps between your company and the standard. "Use the standard as your guide to establishing a coherent set of practices to address business continuity management for your organization," says Rovers. You can also use Smartsheet's ISO 22301 Self-Assessment Checklist and ISO 22301 Simplified Cheatsheet for your gap analysis.
  • Keep It Simple: Having binders full of perfectly formatted procedures won’t help in an emergency. Create easy-to-follow guidelines and checklists and, more importantly, build "muscle memory" in your employees through training and drills. That way, in a panic, people understand what to do without having to be told.
  • Make Your Plan a Living Document: Ticking off items on an audit checklist doesn't mean you’re prepared. Frequently read, revise, and practice your plan to keep it relevant and to train new staff.

Alex Fullick

  • Communicate Your Plan to Staff and Other Stakeholders: Even the most well-written plan is useless if the people who can benefit from it don't know about it. Inform everyone covered by the plan that it exists, including your supply chain and other outside stakeholders.

ISO 22301 Requirements

The ISO 22301 standard offers a framework for planning, testing, and monitoring a business continuity management system (BCMS). The ISO 22301 document contains 10 sections, which introduce the standard and definitions, as well as actionable requirements of the standard. 

As with other ISO requirement documents, ISO 22301 describes only what organizations must do to reach minimum proficiency — it does not prescribe how to achieve these standards. Each organization must consider its distinct conditions and obligations to find the best way to follow the requirements.

Here is an overview of the clauses in ISO 22301 that impact an organization most: 

  • Clause 4, Context: Your organization must understand what it is, what it does, and what outputs and processes it must sustain. You must also determine who has a stake in the continuity of your operations — in other words, the interested parties. For example, customers have a stake in your organization continuing to function.
  • Clause 5, Leadership: Few organizational initiatives thrive without the sustained support and championship of top management. Management must commit to a business continuity plan and make available any resources — human, financial, or otherwise — to ensure its success. 
  • Clause 6, Planning: To plan for sustainability, you must understand what disruptions could potentially occur and how these incidents affect the business — in other words, potential risks and their impact. Set measurable business continuity objectives to guarantee the minimum viable products or services, as well as compliance with any legal or regulatory requirements. 
  • Clause 7, Support: No program can advance without resources and support. Decide what personnel, roles, and teams you need for threat response and how you can best enhance their effectiveness. Create internal and external communication procedures for reference, and communicate the continuity plan to all necessary parties before and during a crisis. Establish a document management system for key continuity documents, such as procedures.
  • Clause 8, Operation: Conduct your risk assessment and business impact analysis , and plan your disruption recovery approach. Implement the recovery plan with detailed procedures, and test it regularly to verify that it works. Make sure people can find the procedures (and other documents) they need, and revise your plan as necessary.
  • Clause 9, Evaluation: Establish a process to regularly measure and assess your continuity policies and procedures and their execution. Review and revise your plan and documents to ensure they are effective and relevant
  • Clause 10, Improvement: Seek continual improvement in all functional and operational areas, including through periodic management reviews. Improvements in day-to-day activities help bolster the organization in times of disruption. When processes veer from the standard or fail to conform with ISO and quality management standards, implement corrective action.

Key Definitions Related to ISO 22301

Some of the following key terms and concepts originate with ISO, some with ISO 22301, and some with business continuity and risk management:

  • Context: The purpose and character of the organization and the environment in which it operates. This includes internal and external influences that shape the business continuity management system.
  • Disruptive Incident: A disruptive incident is an event that stops or slows the everyday work of an organization. Examples of disruptive incidents include earthquakes, internet stoppages, broken fans in a data center, or food poisoning in a cafeteria. 
  • Interested Parties: Interested parties are stakeholders in the successful operation and outcomes of your business continuity plan. They can include customers, employees, suppliers, or regulatory officials.
  • Leadership: In ISO 22301, leadership refers to top management or the person or people who run the organization and champion the business continuity effort. 
  • Maximum Acceptable Outage (MAO): The length of time an activity or process can be unavailable or ineffective before the health and survival of the organization are threatened. 
  • Minimum Business Continuity Objective (MBCO) : The lowest level of products or services that is acceptable for a business to offer during a disruption.
  • Recovery Timeframe Objectives (RTO): This refers to the prioritization of key activities and the timing that makes those activities operational.

Benefits of ISO 22301 and Business Continuity Management System

If teams are already overwhelmed with their workload, they may not like to think about disasters. Furthermore, organizations might think that ISO standards include difficult jargon and that pursuing a continuity plan adds unnecessary work. However, management systems practitioners suggest that continuity preparations produce substantial gains.

Andy Nichols

“I think it's a truism that many organizations can benefit from the principles and some of the practices of resiliency and contingency planning,” says Andrew Nichols, Quality Program Manager at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center .

As an example of the benefits that risk analysis and preparation can yield, Nichols relates his experience of visiting a small northeastern town during a widespread winter power outage. The whole town was closed, with the exception of one restaurant that had a generator. 

“They had a line of people out the door every mealtime because nowhere else was capable,” Nichols remembers. “Somebody had the foresight to think about the loss of power. And that organization cleaned up financially because they were able to provide what the customers needed.” 

Consider these specific benefits to using ISO 22301 business continuity planning:

  • Protect against and recover from disruptive incidents.
  • Identify and control current and future threats.
  • Improve your risk management planning efforts.
  • Prevent large-scale damage.
  • Become proactive in preventing problems and recovering from incidents, rather than reactive to damage and disruption.
  • Reduce downtime and increase recovery time.
  • Keep important activities running during disruption.
  • Deliver quality products consistently. 
  • Provide dependable service. 
  • Prove you’re a reputable supplier.
  • Prove your resilience to all stakeholders.

Experts also assert that ISO 22301 can be a simple and effective continuity tool. “All these ISO standards, they’re like hidden gems because of how fast they can get you up to speed without having to reinvent the wheel,” says Mart Rovers, President of IT consulting firm InterProm . 

Mart Rovers

“I cannot emphasize enough how within reach this standard is. Anytime people hear the word ‘ISO,’ they think, ‘Oh, that's for large organizations. Oh, that's way too formal. It's too much. It's overkill.’ I understand where this is coming from because the word ‘standard’ itself is scary for many organizations. However, the size of organization really doesn't matter. The things you should be doing in ISO 22301, you can do at a smaller scale,” says Rovers. 

Some also hesitate at the thought of certification. Both Nichols and Rovers stress that certification is not necessary for every enterprise. Although certification may be a condition of doing business for some companies, those who don’t need certification can still gain advantages from following ISO 22301. 

In weighing the pros and cons of ISO certification, Rovers suggests buying a copy of ISO 22301 , and then copying and pasting each sentence that contains the word “shall” into a spreadsheet (these sentences represent the requirements you must follow). From the spreadsheet, consider whether full ISO adoption and certification are too complicated for your organization. Regardless of your decision, you can always use the spreadsheet to conduct a self-audit.

ISO 22301 in Action

The following image provides a small sample of the possible outcomes to business continuity management.

How a Management System Helps Business Continuity

For those familiar with other ISO standards, the management system component of ISO 22301 might be a new concept. Rovers describes management systems as follows: 

“The best way to explain a management system is to imagine opening up an old watch. It has these spinning wheels, these gears. In the case of an ISO standard, you're looking at a number of requirements to put that watch together with all these spinning wheels. That watch is a coherent system. You take out one of those gears, and then the watch fails. 

“A management system for continuity follows the same idea — every requirement that the standard asks for represents one of those gears. And every requirement serves a distinct purpose (otherwise, it would not be a requirement). If you don't meet a particular requirement, the watch, so to speak, may not function as it could or should. These ISO requirements are not just there to keep you busy.”

ISO 22301 and PDCA

Each segment of the PDCA (plan-do-check-act) cycle for continuous improvement corresponds to at least one ISO 22301 clause. Organizations can use ISO 22301 to test continuity procedures, review outcomes, and implement updates or fix problems in a continuous cycle that leads to an increasingly resilient business continuity system.

PDCA for ISO 22301

ISO 22301 and Maturity Models

A maturity model measures an organization’s ability to pursue continuous improvement in key areas. ISO 22301 does not have a maturity model.

As Rovers explains, “It was never the intent of ISO 22301 to be a maturity model. You either meet all the requirements of the standard, or you don’t. You could say that by not meeting the requirements of the standard, you’re not mature. Or better said, your business continuity management practices are not mature.”

BCM Lifecycle ISO 22301

The business continuity management (BCM) lifecycle represents industry best practices and some of the core requirements of ISO 22301. These practices offer a solid foundation for resilience, while offering flexibility to adapt to changes in the organization. 

Guided by leadership, these are the key activities for the lifecycle:

  • Conduct a business impact analysis and risk assessment.
  • Establish a business continuity strategy.
  • Establish and implement business continuity procedures.
  • Exercise and test the procedures regularly before a disruption occurs.

BCM Lifecycle ISO 22301

ISO 22301 Audit Checklist Template (Excel)

ISO 22301 Audit Checklist Template

Use this detailed checklist to determine if your business continuity plan aligns with ISO 22301 standards. You can use the template whether you’re applying for certification or simply pursuing a continuity management plan. 

Download ISO 22301 Audit Checklist Template

Excel  | Smartsheet

ISO 22301 Self-Assessment Checklist

ISO 22301 Self-Assessment Checklist Template

This self-assessment checklist is divided into sections that correspond to clauses in ISO 22301. Use it to confirm whether your business continuity system meets the requirements for leadership, planning, support, operation, performance evaluation, and continual improvement.

Download ISO 22301 Self-Assessment Checklist Template

Excel | Word |  PDF

ISO 22301 Implementation Guide

ISO 22301 Implementation Guide Template

This guide states the essential information from ISO 22301 in plain English. For best results, read it with the full standard, which is currently available for free online to support the COVID-19 response. 

Download ISO 22301 Implementation Guide Template

Excel | Word | PDF

ISO 22301 Simplified Cheat-Sheet

ISO 22301 Simplified Cheatsheet Template

Use this simplified cheat-sheet to understand the basic elements of creating a business continuity plan. The template walks you through the process of determining critical aspects of your organization, writing the recovery plan, and exercising the plan to ensure proficiency. 

Download ISO 22301 Simplified Cheat-Sheet Template

ISO 22301 Business Continuity Policy Template

ISO 22301 Business Continuity Policy Template

A business continuity policy describes the processes and procedures an organization needs in order to function well daily, including in times of disruption and crisis. This policy template includes space for BCMS objectives, a leadership description, a policy outline, and any certification details.

Download ISO 22301 Business Continuity Policy Template

ISO 22301 Business Continuity Template

ISO 22301 Business Continuity Plan Template

Use this template to create a business continuity plan. Describe the results of your risk analysis and business impact analysis, detail your disaster recovery and continuity procedures, and list key contacts and important assets. 

Download ISO 22301 Business Continuity Template

Word |  PDF

ISO 22301 Business Continuity Sample

The Community Nonprofit Center of New York made available this business continuity template to support the response to coronavirus. Find space to detail responses to minimal and critical emergencies, a risk matrix template, and lists for information about insurance, critical assets, and responses to disruptive events.

For other most useful free, downloadable business continuity plan (BCP) templates please read our  "Free Business Continuity Plan Templates"  article.

Disaster Recovery Plan Templates

After you perform a risk analysis and business impact analysis, consider writing a disaster recovery plan. Disaster recovery plan templates , available in different formats, provide an easy-to-use structure for documenting continuity plans. Download templates specialized for IT, payroll, small businesses, and more.

To learn about the difference between recovery plans and continuity plans, visit our "Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: Their Differences and How They Work Together" article.

ISO 22301 Versus ISO 27301

ISO 27301 provides requirements that organizations use to ensure their information and communications technology (ICT) continuity, security, and readiness to survive a disruption. The standard is often staged with ISO 22301 because both are based on similar management system approaches.

The full name of this standard is ISO 27301 - Information Technology - Security Techniques . Originally published in 2011, it is soon to be revised.

“Both [ISO 27301 and ISO 22301] ask for top management involvement and commitment, both ask that you have the right resources, that you have documentation management, that you do performance evaluations, and that you make improvements,” explains Rovers. 

They differ in the focus of the risk assessment: ISO 27001 addresses security, whereas ISO 22301 addresses business continuity. “Each area has different risks, but the approach to the risk management assessment and mitigation follows the same steps. There's enormous overlap.”

IT security continuity has significant relevance in the remote work environment. For example, while using your work laptop at home or signed into the work network, what happens when someone innocently plugs in a thumb drive that infects your laptop and corrupts the network? Both ISO 22301 and ISO 27001 work together to prevent such incidents and mitigate problems that occur.

For additional resources, visit " Free ISO 27001 Checklists and Templates ."

General Requirements Across Management System Standards

Some ISO requirements are commonly stated across the management system standards, which include ISO 22301; ISO 9001 , Quality Management; ISO 20000, IT Service Management; and ISO 27001, Information Security. Examples of common requirements include establishing objectives for the business continuity management system as appropriate to the organization, obtaining management’s commitment to supporting the system, implementing a documentation management system, conducting internal audits, and pursuing continual improvement. This functional overlap enables organizations to undertake combined audits for these standards.

Historical Foundations of ISO 22301

The concept of business continuity was borne out of the IT boom of the 1980s and 1990s. Public and private organizations realized the need to ensure continuity of service and key supplies and to mitigate the effects of disruptive events. The first formal standard reflecting these concerns was the United Kingdom’s British Standard (also known as BS) 25999, which introduced the management system concept to the business continuity discipline. 

In 2012, the global standards body ISO released ISO 22301:2012 as the first international standard for business continuity. Based on the contributions and comments of continuity professionals from assorted industries in over 60 countries, ISO 22301 superseded BS 25999. 

ISO’s consensus-based standards, such as 22301, cover practices and industries ranging from quality management, IT service, and food safety to environmental safety and information security. ISO standards aim to increase the quality and safety of many products and services, including most common household items, appliances, and cars. Although large enterprises and manufacturers usually follow ISO requirements and guidelines, organizations of all sizes and types can benefit from ISO principles. 

For ISO 22301, the standard provides a consistent BCMS framework and a universal language among organizations for communicating about continuity and aligning processes.

When they get certified in ISO 22301 and other ISO standards, organizations can demonstrate to management, legislators, regulators, customers, and other stakeholders that they follow good practices. For ISO certification, organizations need third-party verification that they comply with all requirements of a standard. 

“Certification shows you have some level of competence,” explains Rovers. “It shows you take the standard seriously. For organizations buying your goods or services, it can be a compelling reason to choose you.”

Guidance Documents for ISO 22301

For in-depth discussions of aspects of the 22301 standard, ISO offers a series of guidance documents. To those considering pursuing ISO 22301 certification, these documents provide additional insight:

  • ISO 22313 - Security and resilience — Business continuity management systems — Guidance on the use of ISO 22301
  • ISO 22316 - Security and resilience — Organizational resilience — Principles and attributes
  • ISO 22317 - Societal security — Business continuity management systems — Guidelines for business impact analysis (BIA)
  • ISO 22318 - Societal security — Business continuity management systems — Guidelines for supply chain continuity
  • ISO 22330 - Security and resilience — Business continuity management systems — Guidelines for people aspects of business continuity
  • ISO 22331 - Security and resilience — Business continuity management systems — Guidelines for business continuity strategy

What Is the Latest Version of ISO 22301?

The requirement document ISO 22301:2019, Security and resilience - Business continuity management systems - Requirements , was released on October 31, 2019. The update from the original 2012 version reflects changes in management system approaches and clarifies specifications around clause 8.

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Testing, testing: how to test your business continuity plan

business continuity plan testing checklist

Related Articles

Disruptions are by their nature unexpected. but your organisation’s response to hitting pause on normal business operations doesn’t have to be equally as unexpected..

A comprehensive business continuity plan maps out every stage of your business’ response to relevant risks that could affect business-as-usual. This could be a powercut, a cyber-attack or a supply failure. Whatever the disruption, the right continuity plan can ensure that your business minimises downtime and recovers as quickly as possible, reducing the risk of lost revenue or reputation.

However, even the most detailed plan can become ineffective if it is not regularly tested. Businesses rarely stand still, and this means your plan may have to adapt to new circumstances. Lack of knowledge, communication and practice can also compromise your business’ response, which could extend your recovery.

So, how should you test your business continuity plan, and how often should it be put in practice?

How often should a business continuity plan be tested?

There is no hard and fast rule that governs how often your business should test its plan.

It really depends on the complexity of your business and the number, scale and likelihood of the risks it faces. These should be identified as part of a Business Impact Assessment (BIA), which will inform your business’ response.

If your business has high risks for revenue loss, a damaged reputation or the possibility of lengthy downtime, then testing should be carried out more regularly and more areas of the plan should be tested.

The regularity of the testing is also dependent on the type of test being performed.

How can a business continuity plan be tested?

There are three main ways of testing your business continuity plan: checklist or walkthrough exercises, desktop scenarios or simulations.

Checklist or walkthrough exercises

A checklist or walkthrough exercise is one of the easiest forms of test. It consists of a desktop exercise in which senior managers determine if the plan remains current by checking off or ‘walking through’ each step.

When going through the plan they should also ask key questions, such as does the business have the right supplies to cope? Are copies of the plan known by key personnel? Do key personnel know what their roles are?

To make this test as valuable as possible, an emphasis must be placed on any weak areas. The mission is not to find fault or assign blame, but to promote improvement, which will make your plan more effective if the worst should happen.

Desktop scenarios

A desktop scenario test is a little more specific than the checklist. Using a scenario relevant to the business, this test can help you to establish all the processes of your business’ response to a specific disruption. For example, you can check the processes of your plan in the event of sudden data loss.


Simulations are full re-enactments of business continuity procedures and could involve most, if not all, of your workforce. They also tend to take place on site in the relevant business areas.

In this test, each employee involved will need to physically demonstrate the steps needed in order to react to the disruption and recover from it. This could involve driving to a back-up location, making phone calls, completing communication templates or visiting server rooms. These kinds of tests are good for establishing staff safety, asset management, leadership response, relocation protocols and any loss recovery procedures.

Due to the large scale of a full simulation, these kinds of tests may be limited to annual occurrences. They may also need to be moved to quieter business days or even non-operational days so that disruption to normal work is minimised.

Organising a test

Before beginning a test, you will need to set out a clear objective as well as define exactly what is being tested. For example, you may want to check your continuity plans in the event of a power outage.

For a desktop exercise, you need to ensure that key personnel or top management are available to participate. A venue also needs to be arranged, but this doesn’t necessarily have to be in a key location unless you are planning a simulation.

Before the test, circulate the testing plan along with the objective to everyone involved. This team should also familiarise themselves with the current business continuity plan.

Assign some people within the team to record the test’s performance and any shortcomings that are identified. After the test, feedback should also be sought. These findings then need to be formally recorded and used to update the business continuity plan. Once finalised, the revised plan should be shared among the workforce.

Remember that testing a business continuity plan is not about passing or failing – it is about improving processes to give your business the best possible chance of dealing with disruption. Regular testing asserts the effectiveness of your processes, trains your staff in what to do for faster, more confident responses and highlights areas that need strengthening.

Solution for disruption

Business continuity plans give your business a blueprint for disruption survival, but only if they are fit for purpose.

An internationally recognised mark of best practice, ISO 22301 will enable you to implement, maintain and improve a business continuity management system, which will support your business before, during and after disruption.

To find out more, visit our dedicated webpage for  ISO 22301 .

You can also get in touch on  0333 259 0445  or by emailing  [email protected] .

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Claire Price

Content Marketing Executive

Claire worked for Citation ISO Certification between 2020 and 2022 writing creative and informative content on ISO certification and consultation to help businesses reach their potential.

Picutre taken of the authore of the article, Claire Price

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NEW EBOOK!   Accelerate Change Management with a Digital Adoption CoE

business continuity plan testing checklist

  • September 30, 2020
  • Digital Transformation
  • Reading Time: 6 minutes

6-Point Business Continuity Plan Checklist

Table of contents.

A Business Continuity plan ensures how assets and personnel will be protected and be able to normally function during times of crisis. It helps organizations to create a system to overcome the possible or potential threats & aids in planning recovery strategies.

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) falls under the organization’s risk management strategy. The risks include all aspects that can affect the company’s normal operations, including natural disaster. BCP covers all factors of a business’s endurance, affluence, and success.

What should a business continuity plan include?

A typical Business Continuity Plan (BCP) must include:

  • Policy, purpose, and all potential risks
  • Goals & objectives
  • Key roles & responsibilities
  • Data storage requirements
  • Communication & feedback channel
  • Business impact analysis reports
  • Risk mitigation procedures & plans
  • Business recovery & continuity strategies

The ultimate concern for companies during this pandemic is how to support remote employees or remote learning and ensure business continuity when it comes to day-to-day activities. To overcome these challenges, we need to have a Business Continuity Plan checklist.

The Business Continuity plan checklist is prepared based on a clear understanding of the impact of a crisis or a disaster situation. We have researched and prepared a 6-point effective BCP checklist, which we have summarized below.

The Effective 6-point Business Continuity Plan Checklist

  • Risk assessment
  • Business Impact Analysis (BIA)
  • Critical Business Functions & Dependencies
  • Recovery plan & phases
  • Backup & Restoration procedure
  • Test, Exercise & Educate

1. Risk Assessment

A risk assessment must always be a part of your Business Continuity plan checklist. It helps you to identify which potential hazards or threats impact your organization’s function and to evaluate these risk likelihoods.


These risks can differ based on industry type, organization size, economic conditions, location, and more. Risks can include 

  • Natural disasters
  • Cyberattacks
  • Operation downtime 
  • Power outages 
  • Data corruption 
  • System failures
  • Hardware faults

and other malicious threats to data security.

Most often risk assessment is conducted by Risk Management (RM) professionals within the organization.  

Thinks to be done to overcome Risk assessment for Business Continuity:

A. identify business risks.

List down all the factors that threaten your normal business operations. It includes both man-made and natural risks. Add these to your Business Continuity plan checklist.

b. Leverage ways to restore

Monitor risks and overcome them at the earlier stage. Spend more time on significant business operations, which must recover soon at the event of risks. Business Continuity Plan (BCP) checklist will help you to do the job.

2. Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

Business Impact Analysis (BIA) is the process of thoroughly analyzing the identified potential risks or threats. In other words, BIA helps you to gauge the impact of business risks or disruptions.


BIA and risk assessment go hand-in-hand. Once all the potential risks of your company are identified, find what will out their impact – Analyze how it will have an impact on business operations both financial & operational impact.

BIA can include:

  • Employee productivity
  • Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Lost sales & income
  • Increased expenses
  • Employee churn
  • Regulatory fines
  • Customer dissatisfaction

How to perform BIA?

First, you must ensure you have an effective leadership team to analyze the impact. You must conduct meetings with all department heads. Things that you must discuss in the meeting:

  • Type of analysis that needs to be done
  • Members going to involved
  • Organization’s key priorities
  • Resource dependencies 
  • Day-to-day department activities

Second, include all these points in your BCP checklist. It is the management’s responsibility to conduct frequent department-level meetings and get the status of the BIA report.

Ensure you stick to your Business Continuity plan checklist to avoid mistakes. It is the best way to provide effective risk-treatment and keeps you on track.

3. Critical Business Functions & Dependencies

Critical Business Functions (CBF) are business processes or activities that you must restore (no matter what) during the event of risks to ensure business continuity and to protect the company’s assets.


One of the most important purposes of a BCP is to keep the critical business functions going. For that, you must identify the process & resources that are vital to the organizations’ survival and understand how are they dependent on one another.

Critical functions & Dependencies include: 

  • Department dependencies
  • Flow of communication
  • Reason for Downtime 
  • Function priorities
  • Cashflow (settlement of financial obligations)
  • Company market share & reputation 

How to identify CBF & Dependencies for Business Continuity?

The process of identifying your CBFs will work closely with your analysis of risk assessment & BIA. You must prioritize your functions that are highly essential to run your business. From that, you will be able to identify CBFs, functions that are necessary to ensure business continuity during a disruption.

Once these functions are identified, put them on your Business Continuity Plan checklist. Each time when you conduct a meeting with your department heads make sure to stick to your checklist.

4. Recovery plan & phases

Recovery plans & activities are the most important for Business Continuity. The Recovery plan & phases must aim for Critical Business Functions. Plan of recovery & Phases of recovery must be included in your Business Continuity Plan checklist.


The recovery plan must proceed in the following sequence:

Disaster Declaration – When a crisis happens, the organization first needs to declare it & take the necessary decision to activate their recovery plan.

Plan Activation – Business Continuity Plan will be launched at this phase. It continues until your organization has set up & secured an alternative worksite, and your business operations are relocated.

Operations on alternative site – This phase is active until the primary facility is secured & restored by the business.

Shift back to the primary site – This phase continues until the business operations are moved back appropriately to the original site by the company.

5. Backup & Restoration procedure

Backup & Restoration are the important aspects of any Business Continuity Plan. These steps must outline data backup priorities & objectives, and the action plan that needs to be taken.


Companies have an enormous volume of physical documents that they need to maintain daily. There will be documents, contracts, records, files, and more which are equally important as the data saved on the hard drives.

You must try to convert all documents that can be digitized so that you can minimize the loss of physical documents.

Create your strategy or plan for backup & restoration, then add them to your Business Continuity Plan checklist. The plan in place should facilitate fast recovery so that your organization can recover tomorrow from any crisis that occurs today.

6. Test, Exercise & Educate

This is the last step in a comprehensive Business Continuity plan. Every significant business program must be tested & measured for its effectiveness.

This step primarily focuses on the policies on updating, testing & exercising your recovery plans. It helps you to identify gaps in your plans before an event of a crisis or a disaster.


At the time of crisis, communication within the company becomes vital. This step facilitates communication within the organizations to ensure employees, suppliers & partners know what to expect well before an event occurs.  

Testing must include running simulations to test the employee’s preparedness level at the time of risks. Testing should occur on a regular basis (at least once a year) and you can consider tabletop exercises, simulations, or even a surprise incident.

Having this in your Business Continuity Plan checklist is highly important.

A Digital Adoption Platform is the best way to ensure Business Continuity irrespective of your challenges. Many companies face a lot of challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, most of your employees work remotely. We know how hard to get the maximum outcome from your remote employees. 

Digital Adoption Platform like Apty is a cost-effective tool that you can consider to overcome challenges in training, onboarding, employee engagement, employee productivity, business continuity. 

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What Is a Business Continuity Plan? What to Expect From the Process

What Is a Business Continuity Plan? What to Expect From the Process

Your business shouldn’t shut down when an emergency hits. But with a thorough business continuity plan template, you can keep your people safe and stay operational through whatever crisis you’re hit with.


  • What Is a Business Continuity Plan?
  • What to Include in Your BCP

What to Expect from a Business Continuity Template

  • 5 Steps to Creating a BCP

Making sure you can protect your employees and operations is a complicated issue, especially the larger and more widespread your business is. Companies like Boeing, with locations in over 70 countries, know this firsthand. The only way to tackle complicated problems is with a plan.

“With such a broad geographic footprint, it really is challenging and difficult to prepare for every single type of outcome out there,” Keith Berthiaume told us on The Employee Safety Podcast . Keith is Enterprise Emergency Preparedness Program Manager at Boeing. “So having a plan that looks at what the impacts are and how we can prepare and respond to those, makes it a lot easier for us to have an enterprise-level response.”

During business-critical events , having a plan for business continuity is imperative to helping emergency response leaders and key stakeholders understand what to do, who to contact, how to respond, or the necessary steps to mitigate the impact. A business continuity plan also helps accelerate response times, bolstering employee safety and protecting the company’s infrastructure.

A well-developed business continuity plan serves as an emergency checklist for all emergency scenarios that might occur. In this post, we discuss what makes for a useful business continuity plan and how you can create your own business continuity plan checklist that fits your organization’s unique needs.

What Is Business Continuity?

Business continuity is your organization’s ability to maintain important business functions during emergencies or disruptions. The processes and procedures put in place through business continuity help to prevent, mitigate, and recover from threats to your operations. This way, you can maintain some level of function even when faced with potentially harmful events.

Often, larger businesses have entire business continuity management (BCM) teams or individuals whose responsibility is to develop processes and procedures. But smaller organizations tend to rely on HR to establish and communicate these protocols. No matter what your industry or size, every organization needs a business continuity plan (BCP) to document how they will protect their people and operations.

What is a business continuity plan (BCP)?

A business continuity plan outlines business processes that will take place before, during, and after an emergency to minimize interruptions and keep things as close as possible to “business as usual.” Business continuity management means spinning a lot of plates at once, and your business continuity plan will help you stay organized and prepared. A robust plan prepares you for all significant events that could endanger your people or interrupt business operations.

Emergencies often lead to interruptions in normal business operations, and these disruptions—large and small—can create long-term issues for human resources, information technology, and other business stakeholders when organizations’ emergency response plans—or those of their providers—are inadequate. They can take people and technologies offline for hours, even days or weeks, during and after an emergency.

“Regardless of the incident type, there are four ways we as a company could be impacted: the loss of our most important resource—which is our people—our buildings, our supply chain, or our IT applications. Most incidents have the potential to impact more than one of these areas, so it’s the protection of these four groups that forms the basis for how we perform business continuity.”

—Keith Berthiaume, Boeing

The nature and impact of interruptions will vary depending on your industry, business locations, number of employees, and exposure to various types of threats. Some of the most common interruptions may include

  • Supply chains
  • Distribution channels
  • Technology operations like power or internet outages, cyberattacks, or data center failures
  • Critical machinery or equipment operations
  • Employee travel and accessibility to work locations
  • Employee accessibility to work-related systems, applications, and data
  • Customer accessibility to storefronts, websites, call centers, or customer-facing applications

A business continuity plan is an important component of risk management and emergency response . While the first objective during any crisis is to safeguard employees, the second is to safeguard the business. Planning for an unplanned emergency is critical if you’re going to stay up and running.

What to Include in Your Business Continuity Plan

Your business continuity plan should include all the information necessary to coordinate an effective response to any emergency or crisis event . Typically, a BCP will include each of the following:

  • A comprehensive risk assessment
  • A business impact analysis for each risk type
  • A process for monitoring and detecting relevant threats
  • Documented recovery time objectives
  • Communication strategy and procedures

Stage 1: Risk assessment

#1 Risk assessment

According to Bob Arnold, president of Disaster Recovery Journal, the key to developing a sound business continuity plan is understanding an organization’s potential risks. “Threats come at us more frequently and more violently today,” Bob told us . You may not be able to predict which risks will impact your locations and assets, but you can conduct a business threat assessment to ensure you will be prepared for threats when they inevitably arise.

  • People impact: What are the situations that would impact your employees’ ability to work? Which job functions are most critical to your organization’s business continuity?
  • Partner impact: Which partners and service providers are you most reliant on?
  • Facility impact: What are the scenarios that could cause one or more of your worksites to become unavailable?
  • Technology impact: Which systems or tools are used to deliver goods and services to customers? What systems are used to communicate and coordinate internally?
  • Brand/reputation impact: What is the impact on your brand should your business no longer operate normally?

Specific threats will vary from organization to organization based on their geographical location and surroundings. However, most companies can perform a business continuity risk assessment for common scenarios such as

  • Severe weather
  • Workplace and structural fires
  • Power and IT outages
  • Pandemics and other health crises
  • Physical threats from individuals
  • Cybersecurity threats from inside and outside of the organization
  • Natural disasters

By taking stock of historical events and most likely-to-occur scenarios, organizations can begin to develop an ongoing list of potential threats. This list will evolve as the company grows its employee base, the number and locations of additional sites, the locations where employees may travel for business, and its fleet/equipment/technology assets. Keeping this list fresh and adjusting the plan accordingly is a must.

Stage 2: Business impact analysis

#2. Business impact analysis

Once you complete the threat assessment, conduct a business impact analysis (BIA) to determine how each of these threats could influence the business. The goal of a BIA is to predict consequences of various types of disruptions and their impact on personnel and critical business functions. You can then use this information to develop effective recovery strategies to mitigate risks and improve outcomes.

Any business disruption can have a detrimental operational and financial impact. These may include lost and/or delayed sales and income, delays in manufacturing or development, an inability to deliver goods or meet contractual agreements, increased expenses, customer dissatisfaction, and even regulatory fines.

Of course, the impact will depend greatly on the duration and timing of the disruption. A two-hour power outage will have less impact than a two-day work stoppage resulting from a hurricane. A fire in a remote and partially empty warehouse will be less of an interruption than a fire in an active manufacturing facility. By analyzing different possible scenarios, an organization can be better prepared to handle the emergency and bring operations back online more rapidly. Reevaluate this analysis regularly as new threats arise.

Stage 3: Threat monitoring & detection

#3. Threat monitoring and detection

Once you’ve identified potential threats, you need a way to effectively monitor and assess critical events near your people and assets so you can react immediately. Monitoring events before they strike is critical to protecting your people and brand. It allows you to recognize and to predict critical situations before they happen—giving you the benefit of alerting and organizing your audience in advance.

Companies like Whataburger use threat intelligence solutions to keep an eye on threats for their thousands of locations, a feat that would be next to impossible for their small team. Automatic threat monitoring allows business continuity teams to focus on response and mitigation while trusting that they will be notified immediately about any detected threats.

Learn more about how Whataburger protects its people and business during critical events with AlertMedia.


#4. Recovery time objective

Once your risks have been identified and you’ve established a process for both identification and monitoring, it’s time to set goals. Your recovery plan outlines how to get your business back to normal as quickly as possible, and a recovery timeline is a part of that plan.

Establishing a recovery time objective (RTO)—the maximum acceptable time until the business is up and running following a crisis event—is a critical component of any BCP to ensure your response plans sufficiently protect the organization against long-term damages, including data loss, financial penalties, and more. This information will also have a direct impact on crisis management, risk mitigation, and communication strategy and how you prioritize response efforts.

You can also include your assigned recovery team in your plan to clarify the responsibility and ownership of the RTO. This team will be made up of personnel responsible for coordinating, communicating, and managing employees and stakeholders during an emergency or business interruption.

Stage 5: Communication strategy

#5. Communication strategy

A business continuity program should have at its foundation a solid emergency communication strategy . In times of crises and critical events, communication is a lifeline. Being able to relay information and instructions to employees and other business partners will help your people stay calm and guide them to the appropriate behavior. While some employees will only need to keep themselves safe, others may be designated as part of a skeleton crew who will be responsible for operating and/or maintaining the business and its vital functions.

Your emergency management and business continuity teams should designate specific individuals accountable for emergency communication, as well as at least one level of backup per function, and train them accordingly. These employees will become the most important contacts during and after an emergency and will require multiple channels for communication.

Additionally, the types of communication channels are equally as critical as the communications themselves. Using an emergency communication system will help ensure notifications and alerts are sent across multiple channels simultaneously so that every employee receives the message intended for them. Remember: During an emergency, IT infrastructure may be compromised, or computer systems may be inaccessible, so you should plan on using all available channels to communicate with critical personnel. Your system should also enable two-way communication so you can confirm whether messages were received while allowing employees to confirm their safety and contribute valuable information to help reduce downtime.

These channels may include

  • Text message
  • Mobile app push notification
  • Social media posts
  • Slack/Team message
  • Intranet site alert
  • Desktop alert

In today’s mobile culture, this multi-modal approach is the only way to ensure the affected employees receive the messages quickly, in real-time, and on the devices they are most likely to have with them. It would be completely ineffective, for instance, to send an emergency email to every employee when a portion of employees are field workers with no access to email. According to Michelle Schutte , Managing Director of Business Continuity and Incident Management at Charles Schwab, you also need to have a method of communication that is based on urgency. “You need something that really captures someone’s attention and makes them click it to go away,” said Schutte. Urgent communications shouldn’t be sent via regular, day-to-day methods such as email.

You can use our business continuity plan template to streamline your planning. Here are some of the helpful elements you can line up to ensure a fast and effective response.

Roles and responsibilities — Establish a chain of command so everyone knows who to turn to when a critical decision needs to be made. Be sure to include departments beyond the crisis team members, including internal communications, IT, and any executives who may need to communicate important information to employees and other stakeholders. Don’t forget to outline secondary contacts as well in case primary stakeholders become unavailable.

Emergency contact information — Make sure to have phone numbers readily available for staff as well as local police and fire departments, utility companies, and any other external organizations that may be able to help in the event of a threat. An emergency communication system capable of integrating with your HRIS can also help ensure this information is regularly updated and reflects employees’ current information.

Backup plan — Nearly all businesses today use computers to complete daily tasks, so a loss of those systems could mean devastation. For that reason, perform regular backups of all your computer systems and make copies of critical information either to a remote location or server. Once you back it up, make sure you also record details of how to access it. Other considerations for contingency planning include

  • Backup power: Consider keeping backup generators on hand in the event of a power outage so you can get your electrical systems or computers back up and running quickly.
  • Alternate operations site: Set up a second physical location where business operations can still be conducted if you lose access to your headquarters. This alternate site should include all the same tools and systems needed to continue work as planned, as well as equipment to recover the primary site.
  • Essential equipment and services: Essentials include access to email, web servers, data backup sites, and any other tools your day-to-day operations require. Consider the applications and vendors you depend on, and make sure you’ll still be able to use them should an incident occur.

5 Steps to Creating a Business Continuity Plan

JetBlue Airways’ 22,000 employees serve millions of customers across 26 countries. The company’s business continuity plans include dozens of possible threat scenarios, ranging from severe weather to fleets getting grounded to acts of terrorism.

Not every organization will face the same threats as JetBlue, but Penny Neferis, Director of Business Continuity and Disaster Response at the airline, takes an approach to business continuity that offers a good example for how every organization should handle a crisis.

Here are the steps she laid out for building your business continuity plan. You can follow these steps on your own or make it a little easier on yourself by using a business continuity plan template and looking through examples to base your plan off of.

Step #1: Create your team

The first step to developing a business continuity plan involves determining who will be responsible for updating and executing the plan. Business continuity and disaster recovery warrants its own team; however, the team should consider which other departments will be vital to recovery.

According to Penny, “Our small-but-mighty disaster response team [can] only work so long, and we had to learn to count on other groups to step in and help. Our teams are robust, but we felt ownership to take all emergency responses on our shoulders in the past.”

Assign one person the sole responsibility for taking charge, but assign additional recovery tasks to a variety of people across each unit of the business to guarantee no department gets left behind. True resilience management integrates various teams’ experience and awareness to ensure each strategy is as strong as it can be.

Step #2: Conduct your business impact analysis

According to, a business impact analysis “predicts the consequences of disruption of a business function and process, and gathers information needed to develop recovery strategies.” While similar to the threat analysis mentioned above, a BIA views threats from a cost perspective and outlines the total time it would take to recover an organization’s most important functions—including dependencies, such as people and communities. Emergencies often extend beyond the borders of an organization.

“When a crisis does happen, we look at it from three different lenses,” said Penny. “What impact does this have on our staff and crew members? What impact does this have on our customers, and what impact does this have on our community?”

Step #3: Map out your plan

Now that you have your team and you understand each threat’s impact to your business, you need to actually map out a strategy for how to keep your business running—easily the most important component of a business continuity plan. Make a list of the most critical functions to your organization as well as the disruptions that could hinder them, and develop practical recovery strategies for each scenario. Consider various “what ifs” to instill confidence among your team that they’ll be able to respond no matter the situation.

Step #4: Train and educate

You’ve completed your plan, and now you need to train your staff on it. Conduct tabletop exercises and emergency drills so everyone knows the role they will play should a disaster occur. The more “real” the event feels, the better prepared employees will be. Include key personnel and first responders, and use these training sessions to identify missing aspects or weaknesses in your plan. Keep reading for some additional tips on practice and implantation of your business continuity plan.

Step #5: Analyze and update as new threats are identified

The threat landscape evolves constantly, with new risks to business operations occurring every year. Before 2020, few organizations probably expected they would be dealing with an ongoing global pandemic, but they quickly learned to adapt. Business continuity requires both immediate and ongoing attention, and plans should be frequently analyzed and updated based on recent events and predictions.

For instance, we know severe weather and the effects of climate change will continue to be an ongoing threat to businesses across the globe, but we are seeing significant changes in how weather threats crop up. Our 2023 Threat Outlook Report breaks down changes in where weather events occur and longer seasons that may require shifts in your business continuity plan around weather threats.

Maintaining a Living Document

Your business continuity plan and BCP checklist shouldn’t be a single line-item task that you mark off and never look at again. These documents work best if they are integrated consistently through your yearly safety planning, so you can keep them updated with any necessary changes, and so your team keeps the processes top of mind. Here are a few tips for keeping your BCP a central piece of your broader safety culture.

Practice makes perfect

No emergency plan is complete without practice. This philosophy holds true for the business continuity plan. Every person in the company should have a solid understanding of business processes and what they are to do in case of specific incidents (such as a cyberattack) or general emergencies (such as fires, severe weather, workplace injuries, etc.). The designated skeleton crew needs to be clear on their roles and responsibilities, and exactly what, when, and how the business continuity plans will be triggered.

There are three basic steps in implementing both a disaster recovery plan and BCP. Not all employees will be involved in both, but all should have at least a general understanding of what will happen when the emergency plan is activated and which critical business functions will be prioritized. All employees should also have a current contact list of all of those who will be in authority during an emergency.

Before a company initiates a drill, it is a good idea to gather key stakeholders and decision-makers together to carefully and methodically evaluate the emergency and business continuity plans. Review each step with a critical eye to ensure nothing was missed and every area of the business is represented.

Once the plans are considered complete, it’s time to educate employees. Depending on how dispersed your employees are, you may choose to conduct on-site training sessions, tabletop exercises , or develop an on-demand training curriculum that employees can watch on their own time. Because the goal is to obtain 100% participation, design a measurement tool that can provide a current list of employees who have and have not watched the webinar.

The next step is to practice what was learned. Scheduling regular full emergency evacuation drills is recommended. The more “real” the event appears, meaning key personnel and first responders participate, the better-prepared employees will be should an actual critical event occur.

Those responsible for triggering the emergency plan and those involved in the skeleton crew should walk through their respective roles during a critical event. Role-playing is a successful tool that first responders often use themselves to ensure no step is missed. This role-playing will also give the organization valuable insight into how the plan actually works in a “real-life” scenario. Often, a plan will look comprehensive on paper but when it is practiced, weaknesses appear.

If possible, ask partners, vendors, and anyone who may be impacted by your company’s potential business interruption to be a part of the drill. They may be able to identify gaps in planning and provide additional “what if” scenarios.

Assess the success

Practicing the plan is not the end of the process. In fact, it simply provides a lens into how well (or not) the plan performed. You can gather valuable intelligence from each practiced drill and from the people involved. From the business leaders and skeleton crew to the employees who were impacted, it is important to gather feedback from every angle.

Questions to Ask

  • Did every employee in every location know what to do?
  • Was there any confusion, chaos, or panic during the drill?
  • Were the emergency communications delivered across multiple channels simultaneously?
  • What were the open rates for each mode of communication?
  • Did the message communicated provide the proper level of information with instructions on where to find additional information?
  • Were employees able to respond with two-way communication?
  • How long did it take to trigger the business continuity plan?
  • Was the designated skeleton crew able to keep operations going?

Of course, there could be any number of additional questions; These are just a guide, but be sure to include the opinions and experiences of employees. Their perception of how well the drill was orchestrated is as important as the actual results. The goal is not only to protect the employees but also to give them peace of mind that in virtually any situation, their company has their backs. Their perception is their reality and should be taken seriously.

Continual improvements

All the information you gathered in your questions can be used on its own or through an after-action report to make improvements to your plan and your process, so that the next drill, and the real response, are as effective and smooth as possible. By bringing people together at least annually to review the current plan, evaluate alternative available technologies, and assess potential new threats, your organization will be better prepared for any situation. Planning is never a one-time event. It is ongoing and always has room for improvement. Be sure you have business continuity management processes in place to keep it at the forefront of your annual planning.

At the end of the day, an effective business continuity plan must be fluid. But perhaps more importantly, it must also be consistent. Events will never happen exactly as you plan, but by remaining vigilant, you’ll steer clear of “deer in the headlights” syndrome and be prepared for any new challenges that may come your way.

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The Complete Business Continuity Checklist

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business continuity plan testing checklist

3 Ways to Test Your Business Continuity Plan

You’re a positive person. We think that’s spectacular. And though remaining positive is great in principle, sadly it isn’t always a smart risk management mindset. The companies that subscribe to Murphy’s Law are generally best equipped to mitigate risk and handle the unknowns – whether that’s economic downturns, natural disasters, data breaches or server failures.  Regardless of risk appetite, smart companies plan against interruptions to business with what’s known as a Business Continuity Plan or BCP. A Business Continuity Plan evaluates how your company will sustain operations, communicate to personnel and clients, and generally weather the storm in the event of a business interruption. If the Murphy Law mantra feels negative, then just stack the deck and consider it a smart wager instead, since it is FAR better to be ready for a disaster that may never come than be caught unprepared and risk your business collapsing.

We’ve discussed the value of Disaster Recovery Plans (DRPs) and Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) in previous articles, so today we turn this topic toward a vital and often overlooked component of risk mitigation and continuity assurance….Testing.

Even the best plans fall apart without proper implementation. Success in plan execution increases exponentially with testing. Consider testing your Business Continuity Plan annually at a minimum so that all employees and stakeholders are knowledgeable and primed for continuity measures in case of an emergency. Here’s our suggestions for three (3) things you can consistently do to ensure your Business Continuity Plan is tested and your organization is better prepared should disaster strike.

It’s not just for the compulsive personalities like project managers and analysts. Creating a checklist not only defines the successive order in which key operational and administrative procedures should be carried out, it also naturally comes in the form of a quick-reference guide (also known as a QRG). When confusion increases and communication deteriorates, a continuity plan checklist at either a high-level or multiple checklists across your more granular functional areas are an easy and comforting distillation of the business continuity plan that ensures two key components for successful plan implementation: 1) that steps are conducted in the right order, and 2) that no steps are missed.

Two sets of checklists should be made. The first set encompasses those key procedures, contacts, communications, and steps that should be done at the moment of business interruption and throughout any disaster in order to successfully execute on the Business Continuity Plan. The second set of checklists – your BCP Audit Lists – are the items and key information that should be tested and verified on the previous set. Using both in tandem during annual or periodic testing greatly increases the quality of your Business Continuity Plan testing and also the likelihood of successful plan implementation if a disaster occurs.

Common things to include on your BCP Audit List include your employee’s contact details. Much of business downtime and conversely a company’s speed in operations getting back up and running is contingent on internal communications. Having an outdated phone number is a painfully avoidable mistake that can carry considerable cost to your company. At testing time, validate all internal and external contact information to be sure details are current and accurate. If you maintain an offsite cache of emergency supplies, check to ensure that you have the appropriate types and volumes of supplies and backup equipment to last you until normal operations can be restored. Work with your analysts or external business consultation partners to help you determine which supplies, equipment and quantities are appropriate at varying levels and types of business interruption. In addition, be sure to review and secure copies of all required and supplemental documents for personnel, processes and operations (especially emergency forms, contact info, and the Business Continuity Plan itself).

One BCP Audit List item to include should be an evaluation of the overall plan for validity and appropriateness based on the current state of the company. Testing helps business continuity plans stay up to date and provides for more continual adaptation and updating, but your company’s key strategic leadership should periodically evaluate the current state of the company in light of new strategies, technologies, or capabilities and determine whether the existing Business Continuity Plan still covers all of the current needs, strategy and direction.  New strategies/technologies may now exist that are more practical and efficient than the ones currently in your plan from last year, and company direction and capabilities may reveal a need to overhaul the business continuity plan or at least amend it.


A walk-through or run-through promotes both procedural and muscle memory. Recall the fire drills and tornado drills of your elementary school days. Drills were conducted as a live activity rather than a verbal this-is-what-we-would-do review. The reason for this may be intuitive but studies show that active practice facilitates more efficient internalization of procedures, and (as instructional gurus will tell you) key process components have a much higher likelihood of cognitive transfer from working to long-term memory. What that boils down to is simply that your employees will care about it more and remember it longer.

Consider a structured walk-through with department heads to make sure that key points of command and delegation points to internal teams know precisely what to do in an emergency. Elect a team leader from each department and have each form their own testing team which should have extra duties and responsibilities (like making sure the building is clear) and will likely require extra rehearsal. After testing, department team leaders should discuss findings and then draft a unified report on plan efficacy and suggestions for improvement.

Walk-throughs are not just for the human parts of the plan. Kick off boot sequences, scripted and automated contingencies, data replication tasks, stand-by server switch-overs, cloud backup and data validation – whatever key technical components fall into your operations and continuity plan procedures. And then measure key continuity performance indicators (KCPIs) to report and leverage in your plan’s overall evaluation, such as quality or viability and speed to accessibility.

Simulation testing methods address the recovery and restoration aspects of the plan through seemingly real-life scenarios. Build your continuity simulation by creating scenarios that feel real and address key components of the Business Continuity Plan. Form testing teams and assign each a specific scenario that its members will enact using the facilities, equipment, and supplies available to them. If you can create cascading scenarios – ones that overlap and require inputs from or depend on processes to be completed by other testing teams – your simulation will be a better true-to-life representation of a business-interruption event or disaster.

Members of the company’s disaster response team should evaluate overall company response performance based on the simulation, determine how well teams were able to effectively carry out critical functions of the Business Continuity Plan, and identify key improvements and lessons learned to incorporate in the Business Continuity Plan and implementation procedures.

Don’t have a disaster response team? Assemble one as soon as possible.

Use the results from your checklists, walk-throughs and simulations to identify your Business Continuity Plan’s strengths and weaknesses, signal gaps between your plan and company’s current state of strategy and capability, determine how well your personnel can comply with the plan, and assess how ready you are for a disaster now that you’ve done the work of creating the BCP.

If testing your plan feels daunting, you aren’t alone. Many BCPs are constructed and then are shelved due to hesitation around the critical component of testing. The journey of a thousand tests begins with a single checklist, so start planning your Business Continuity Plan testing today. And as always, if you have questions about testing your Business Continuity Plan, need help with any of the techniques mentioned above, or need help constructing your Business Continuity Plan, let us help. Dynamic Quest offers business consultation services with a focus on disaster recovery , business continuity, plan testing, data analysis, and more. Just click the orange “Ask an Expert” button below to inquire about Dynamic Quest’s services or ask one of our experts a question.

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Business continuity plan maintenance: How to review, test and update your BCP

A professional updating their business continuity plan on a tablet.

We've written before about how all organizations need to have a robust business continuity plan . A comprehensive BCP gives your business assurance that it can continue operations, even in the event of an unexpected incident or full-blown crisis.

Putting in place a plan is the first stage in this process, but far from the only on Business continuity plan review checklist. Business continuity plan maintenance, review and testing form equally vital steps in your business continuity strategy.

Is Business Continuity Plan Maintenance Important?

Those who were best-prepared have shown themselves to be most resilient when it comes to facing the challenges of Covid-19 . The pandemic has provided an all-too-live example of the need for a plan B. If ever there was a time to be confident in your business continuity strategy, it's now. However, it's a mistake to think that creating a BCP is a one-time exercise; that once you've put your plan in place, you can sit back and breathe a sigh of relief. There's no room for complacency in business continuity ' the threats you face are ever-changing, and the potential remedial actions need to evolve in tandem. Your business continuity plan might follow best practice guidelines. You might be certified to ISO23301 standards and have put in place the ideal team to manage your disaster planning and BCP strategy. But none of this compensates for a BCP that has grown stale, failing to move with the times when it comes to identifying the latest threats and using the newest approaches to tackle them. That's why reviewing, testing and updating your BCP is as vital as the process of creating a plan in the first place.

Questions You Should Ask When Scheduling BCP Reviews and Drills

Your BCP   plan needs to be a   living document . Creating a BCP isn't a one-off; once you have put your plan in place, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • How often should a business continuity plan be reviewed?
  • How often should a business continuity plan be tested?
  • How often should a business continuity plan be updated?

Here we look at each of these questions and identify the best strategies for testing, updating and reviewing your plan.

The Importance of the Business Continuity Plan Review

Why is it important for the business continuity plan reports to be submitted and reviewed regularly? There are several reasons:

  • The nature and severity of the threats you face may change
  • Your business operations may have evolved, leading to, for instance, a larger number of entities or subsidiaries to consider in your planning or new operating geographies . You may have taken your company public , which brings with it a range of new regulatory obligations
  • Your personnel may have changed, so the people responsible for continuity planning may re no longer be current

Your business continuity plan should be reviewed when any of these situations apply. How often you should review your plan is another question organizations often ask; recommends that you '''Bring key personnel together at least annually to review the plan and discuss any areas that must be modified.''' Feedback from employees is essential in the review. Intentionally seek input from those involved in creating the plan and those involved in its execution. What can they tell you about changes to staff, operations or other factors that impact the plan? This is particularly important if you have numerous locations or remote operations where changes might not be immediately apparent to people sitting in a headquarters building. Ensuring your plan is based on comprehensive, accurate information about all your entities and subsidiaries ' a '''single source of truth' for your entire organization ' is vital. Putting in place a checklist is often a good strategy for any business review, and your BCP is no exception. Consider creating a business continuity plan review checklist to ensure you capture all the elements you need to consider. And of course, if you've been unfortunate enough to face a business continuity issue that forced the enactment of your plan, you can use the real-life experience you gained to finesse it. What worked well; what should be changed?

Business Continuity Plan Testing Considerations and Best Practices

Testing is an equally essential stage in ongoing BCP management. What should testing your business continuity plan look like? And during what stage of the business continuity lifecycle do we need to test the business continuity plan? Of course, the real test is an incident itself. But doing business continuity drills will give you the reassurance that your plan is robust enough to face a real incident ' and enables you to determine this in a less pressured way than waiting for a real crisis. 

Business Continuity Plan Testing Types

When it comes to types of business continuity plan testing, there are three main routes: a table-top exercise, a structured walk-through or full disaster simulation testing.

First: Table-top or role-playing exercises allow everyone involved in the plan to go through it and identify any missing steps, inconsistencies or errors. Second: A walk-through is a more in-depth test of your approach, with everyone involved examining their own responsibilities to spot any weak points. Third: A full simulation of a possible disaster goes a step further, creating a scenario that mirrors an actual disaster to determine whether your plan enables you to maintain operations. It should include your internal team, alongside any vendors or relevant external partners like security or maintenance companies. However you test your plan, it should be rigorous - CIO suggests that '''you try to break it' to ensure that it's fit for purpose. And whatever route ' or combination of approaches ' you choose, you should carry out business continuity plan testing at least once a year.

How To Keep Your Business Continuity Plan Current

Of course, however comprehensive your reviews and testing, they're of no benefit if you don't act on the findings. Updating your BCP is the final stage in the business continuity plan maintenance lifecycle, taking on board the results of your walk-through or simulation and finessing your plan to adopt any improvements noted during your reviews and tests. How often should a business continuity plan be updated? Every time you identify any shortcomings ' whether this is due to your testing/reviewing regime or whenever any errors or omissions come to light. What elements should you consider in an update? While all aspects of your plan are worth checking to ensure they remain current, some areas deserve singling out for special attention:

  • Your contact list: To ensure you have up-to-date details of everyone you need to contact in the event of an incident.
  • Your business entities and subsidiaries data : This forms the basis for your plan. Do you have an up-to-date picture of your organizational structure? Do you have accurate information on all your legal entities and critical functions?
  • Challenge assumptions: Play devil's advocate to challenge your beliefs about incidents that could occur.
  • Your technologies and systems: Including entity data management software , CRM systems and other IT systems central to supporting your operations.

Maintain Confidence in Your BCP

It's clear, then, that putting in place a BCP is only the first step. Reviewing, testing and updating your plan are all equally important stages. In other words, business continuity plan maintenance is crucial. Underpinning all of this is the need for reliable data on your organizational structure, people, systems and dependencies. Diligent's software suite can help you create the single source of truth you need to manage all your business entities effectively. Find out more by getting in touch with us for a no-obligation demo.

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  • Business Continuity Plan Checklist

A Business Continuity Plan Checklist is an important tool for business owners and managers to use to assess their organization’s readiness for an emergency. The checklist helps identify potential risks, plan for contingencies, and develop strategies for responding to crises. The checklist is broken down into sections that cover various aspects of continuity planning, such as creating an emergency response plan, developing a backup plan for data and operations, and creating a communication plan for informing employees and customers about the situation. It also includes tasks for preparing for and responding to the effects of a disaster, such as securing the premises and providing necessary supplies. Ultimately, the checklist is a valuable resource that can help companies create a comprehensive and effective business continuity plan.

  • Not Applicable(N/A)
  • Analyze Your Business Continuity Needs: Identify the organization’s critical systems and processes, and assess their potential risks.
  • Create a Business Continuity Plan: Develop a plan to ensure the continuity of your organization’s operations, no matter the situation.
  • Establish a Recovery Team: Designate personnel responsible for executing the business continuity plan and managing any disruptions.
  • Create a Communication Plan: Develop a strategy for communicating with internal stakeholders, customers, vendors, partners, and other key stakeholders during a disruption.
  • Train Your Employees: Educate staff on their roles in the business continuity plan and how to respond to different emergency situations.
  • Implement Security Measures: Implement security measures to help protect information and assets from unauthorized access and destruction.
  • Review Your Business Continuity Plan: Regularly review your plan to make sure it is up to date and effective.
  • Test Your Business Continuity Plan: Test the plan to ensure it works and to identify any areas that need improvement.

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  • Software Life Cycle

You may be also interested in

  • Risk Assessment Checklist
  • Disaster Recovery Plan Checklist
  • Security Policy Checklist
  • Data Backup Plan Checklist
  • Change Management Plan Checklist
  • Vendor Management Plan Checklist

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a business continuity plan, a business continuity plan is a document that outlines how an organization will continue to operate during a disruption or disaster. it includes strategies, processes, and procedures for recovering and maintaining operations in the event of an incident., what should be included in a business continuity plan, a business continuity plan should include the following elements: a risk assessment, a strategy for handling the disruption or disaster, a plan for restoring operations, a communication plan, a training and testing program, and a plan for evaluating the plan., how often should a business continuity plan be updated, a business continuity plan should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis, at least annually. it should also be updated whenever there are significant changes to the organization, such as new technology, new processes, or new personnel..


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