Business Continuity Plan Components

The BCP should lay out how the equipment or its functions will be replaced (for instance, you may switch to a Web hosting or e-mail hosting service until you're able to replace your servers and get them operational again).The BCP should address the step-by-step process of recovering and reinstating the business operations to a pre-disaster state, including assessing the damage, estimating recovery costs, working with insurance companies, monitoring the progress of the recovery process, and transitioning the management of the business operations from the recovery team back to the regular managers.Your plan should include up-to-date contact information on people and entities that may need to be contacted when a disaster occurred.

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If you have backup generators in place, ensure that key personnel know how to switch to generator power and know the fuel requirements for the generators (must they be fueled or do they run off the natural gas line? Consider cost factors to determine when and for how long the generators should be run.

Providing full electrical power to a building with a generator can cost much more than using the power grid, so the BCP should discuss in what situations it's better to close down operations and send everyone home rather than run on generator power, and it should define who has the authority to make that decision.

Information should be included for both internal personnel (CEO, CIO, legal advisor, etc.) and external personnel and services (police, fire, ambulance, security services, utility companies, building maintenance, etc.).

It will take teamwork to manage the crisis itself and to put things back together once the immediate crisis is over.

You should store copies of important data on removable media that's kept at a different physical location or back it up over the Internet to a remote server, or both.

Business Continuity Plan Components

Just as important, key personnel should know where it's stored and have the keys, passwords, etc., to be able to restore it to get users back to a productive state as soon as possible.

If you run your own e-mail servers, do key employees have alternative e-mail addresses that they check regularly (home accounts or accounts with Web-based e-mail services, etc.) and are these addresses known to other key personnel in case they're needed for emergency contact?

The BCP should also spell out a plan for setting up operations at an alternative location if the building is destroyed or rendered unusable by a disaster.

If your company's phones and/or Internet connection are down, how will you keep in touch with customers, employees who are off-site, contact emergency services, etc.?

Your BCP should note which employees have cell phones and their numbers, as well as whether and where you have other methods of communicating during a widespread disaster, such as ham radios.

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