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What Is a Business Continuity Plan?

June 2, 2021

A business continuity plan is essential if you’re seeking ways to make your organization more resilient, competitive, and agile. This applies to higher ed institutions just as much as other organizations. But what exactly is a business continuity plan? And how does it differ from a business continuity program?

Check out our beginner’s guide to business continuity planning to get answers to all of your questions.

Business Continuity Plan Definition

Let’s start with the basics: What is a business continuity plan? 

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a recorded set of procedures, personnel, applications, and facilities that will help an organization resume the most critical functions and restore operations as quickly as possible in case of an emergency or disaster. It is an important part of risk management and helps to both mitigate risk and manage losses in the event of a cyberattack, flood, terrorist attack, fire, and more.

Every BCP should identify the vulnerabilities of each department within the organization, then outline ways to get critical functions back up and running after a disruption. The BCP should also list the roles and responsibilities of all key players, provide critical applications,  give information about data backups, identify critical facilities, outline a communication plan, and state a clear purpose.

Once a BCP is created, it should be tested and revised using table-top exercises, walk-throughs, and simulation testing. For more information on building a BCP for a higher ed organization, download our ebook, How To: Business Continuity Planning Basics for Higher Ed.

Who Should Have a Business Continuity Plan?

From colleges and universities to departments and business units, each organizational unit with critical functions should have a business continuity plan. At its core, a BPC will help minimize financial losses in the case of an emergency—but it also offers many more benefits.

A BCP protects students, faculty and staff, and community members, facilitates faster recovery from disruptions, and puts organizations ahead of the competition. It also helps build a brand’s reputation and gives greater peace of mind, no matter what an organization may face in the future.

What Is the Difference Between a Business Continuity Plan and a Business Continuity Program?

While a business continuity plan is vital to mitigating risk and minimizing losses in an emergency, it won’t be nearly as effective without a strong business continuity program.

As the name suggests, a program is an ongoing evaluation of business continuity within an organization, while a business continuity plan is the written document created by the administrators of the business continuity program.

A business continuity program should be overseen by business continuity coordinators, with the help of business continuity analysts or consultants. The coordinators are in charge of ongoing risk assessment, identifying core goals of the continuity program, conducting table-top exercises, and more.

Resource: Continuity Program Methodology for Higher Ed

How Do You Create a Business Continuity Plan?

An effective business continuity plan should be tailored to the needs of an organization. For example, a big university’s BCP will look different from the continuity plan of a small college. Still, every BCP should be created using a few key steps, including:

  1. Outline goals and objectives
  2. Create a BCP team
  3. Run a risk assessment
  4. Identify essential functions of the organization
  5. Create a plan for every essential function
  6. Review the plan
  7. Train staff members
  8. Continually evaluate and update the plan

Resource: A Thorough Guide to Continuity Planning in Higher Education

Business Continuity Plan Best Practices

It takes time and research to develop a thorough, successful business continuity plan. But following these best practices will help you get on the path to creating the right BCP for your organization:

  1. Keep a copy of your BPC off-site (and stored in the cloud)
  2. Test your plan regularly, looking for ways to improve the plan or make updates for current times
  3. Update your BPC to reflect changes in departments, product offerings, administrative structure, etc.
  4. Make sure you have several staff members well trained on the details of your BCP
  5. Always imagine the worst-case scenario
  6. Empower your team members to provide useful feedback on how to improve the BCP

Kuali Ready is designed to streamline the process and help empower departmental users. Designed with industry best practices throughout the questionnaire-style format, users of any continuity planning aptitude can thoroughly and efficiently create continuity plans.

Develop Your Business Continuity Plan Today

When you’re ready to take your business continuity program for higher ed to the next level, Kuali Ready can help. Our BCP software makes it easier than ever to develop a continuity plan that is customized to the needs of your higher education organization. Contact us today to learn how Kuali Ready can boost your resilience and give you greater peace of mind.

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