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Business continuity and crisis management

business continuity and crisis management

Unexpected events, such as fire, flooding, or pandemics, can affect businesses negatively.  Such events can lead to business operation failures, or the worst-case scenario – losing potential customers and even bankruptcy.  Planning for business continuity and implementing robust crisis management can help businesses overcome any unforeseen catastrophic incidents.

Here you will learn how business continuity forms the foundation crisis management. You will further understand how planning and preparing for any crisis allows businesses to implement strategies to reduce and minimize impact to their organizations.

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What is a crisis?

Crisis management, what is business continuity, business impact analysis, minimizing the potential impact of crises.

Any disruptive event which affects a business’s facilities, IT systems, data, personnel etc. which leads to a stoppage in production, can be defined as a crisis. A crisis of a catastrophic nature can impact business production, resulting in an impact on business reputation,  customer goodwill, profitability, production schedules, revenues, etc.

Crises could be major or minor in nature, and either internal or external. The severity of the crisis may result in your business exposed to adverse publicity. For any small or medium business which relies on customer goodwill and maintains good customer relationships, any adverse publicity could lead to a loss in sales and revenue.

Examples of potential business disasters which can be classified or lead to a crisis are:

  • Natural/environmental disasters – Unpreventable and entirely out of human control. for example, flooding or heavy rains and storms.
  • Technological disasters – IT system failures, corrupt software, faulty hardware, or malicious cyber-attacks are some of the examples.
  • Accidental disasters – Such as fire, gas leaks, or power cuts, etc.
  • Theft or vandalism – Computer equipment theft or vandalism can cause institutional damage possibly ruining any businesses’ finances.
  • Power cut – Power cuts will, in most cases, stop all operations of any business. Power cuts can impact IT, telecom systems, crucial machinery, or equipment.
  • Fuel shortages – lack of fuel will be troublesome for the staff. Their work may be delayed and leave adverse effects on processing orders.
  • Restricted access to premises -An incident such as a gas leak could restrict access, bringing business operations to a halt.
  • Loss or illness of key staff – Lack of a critical member of staff can harm the business operations immensely. Leave, sickness, or any other absence, could have a severe impact on business operations. Small and medium businesses tend to suffer from impact from this more severely.
  • An outbreak of disease or infection – Epidemics and pandemics are unpredictable. Global, regional or even local outbreaks could severely hamper business operations.
  • Terrorist attack – Either local or abroad. Acts of terror could impact your employees directly or impact your supply chain.
  • Crises affecting suppliers – you never know what is in store for you during crises. have a backup plan in case the crises affects the suppliers
  • Crises affecting customers – what would you do if the crises affect your customers and they’re unable to buy your products?
  • Crises affecting your business’ reputation – how’d you solve any misunderstanding, rumours, or allegations about your products during the crises

You can read more about the different types of crisis here .

Business continuity and crisis management

Even if you don’t face all of the scenarios mentioned above, you should still have backup plans ready according to situations.

Crises often come without warning, rarely giving enough time to businesses to react or take decisions accordingly.  Therefore, businesses must implement business continuity and crisis management systems, processes and procedures to ensure any crisis can be handled professionally and competently.

Crisis management is the process of managing and dealing with crises. The process deals with all sorts of threats before, during, or after the crisis. It focuses on reducing the damage and prompt recovery.

Read more about how to reduce the potential impact of crises .

For any organization, business continuity and crisis management go hand-in-hand.  Your crisis management plan should be a component of your broader business continuity plan (BCP). Key elements to include in your Crisis Management Plan are:

  • Risk analysis
  • Activation protocol – how is the crisis management plan activated
  • Organizational structure/chain of command – does your organizational structure change in the event of a crisis?
  • Command centre plan
  • Crisis response action plans
  • External communications plan
  • Resourcing and responsibilities
  • Review schedule

Business continuity and crisis management - crisis management plan

Crisis Management Planning

Business continuity and crisis management are closely related, with crisis management planning forming a part of the broader business continuity plan.

The Crisis Management Plan will typically detail the communication and decision-making elements of your business continuity plan. Once well documented, the Crisis Management Plan detail, enable and facilitate communication between all stakeholders.

It will further detail steps which are required for impact assessment, as well as interaction with media regarding the crisis, and any action to be taken to contain the crisis.

Business continuity and crisis management

Factors to be considered for a Crisis Management Plan

Every crisis management plan needs to be tailored to a business’ or organization’s specific needs.  Fortunately, there is some commonality, and presented here are some of the common guidelines for formulating a crisis management plan:

  • Command Center – A Crisis Management/Emergency Operations Command Center should be established to function as the focal point for crisis management.
  • Contact list – An updated contact list for internal and external stakeholders to ensure communications are distributed to the correct audience.
  • Crisis Management Team – Comprising of senior managers with the expertise and experience to manage a crisis. The team should include employees with any specialized knowledge or skills which will be useful in combating the crisis.
  • Evaluation and corrections – Once the crisis has concluded, identified members of the Crisis Management Team should evaluate the response, and where appropriate, take corrective action to overcome any deficiencies.
  • Organizational responsibilities of the team – Every member of the Crisis management team should be assigned a specific task by defining their functions, duties and responsibilities during the crisis.
  • Logistics – Detail any logistical support required for notification, mobilization and resourcing the crisis centers.
  • Public relations – A clear external communications strategy to minimize ‘bad press’. A specific team member or sub-team should be assigned for this.
  • Sub-teams – Functioning under the overall direction of the main team. The sub-team(s) will comprise of employees with specialist and varying expertise which may be required subject to the type and severity of the crisis.

Business continuity and crisis management - response

Business continuity focuses on ensuring an organization can continue to operate in the event of a disruption and set a path to return to normal business operations once the disruption or crisis has subsided.

Business continuity planning (BCP) typically consists of four stages, namely Risk Assessment and Business Impact Analysis (BIA), Developing of recovery strategies, Implementation of recovery strategies, and Testing, acceptance and ongoing maintenance of business continuity practices and procedures.

Business continuity and crisis management

The pandemic is a perfect example of a global event which required businesses to invoke their business continuity and crisis management protocols.

In many cases, businesses activated their business continuity plans.  As lockdowns became mandatory and prolonged, crisis management strategies were instigated to ensure organizations could continue to operate.

Any business continuity plan must implement clear risk management strategies, setting set clear metrics for measuring success.

A business continuity plan must have an alternative to maintain customer service in case of a disaster or catastrophic event. These alternatives can include data backup, emergency office locations, and emergency IT administrative rights.

Business continuity and crisis management - BCP overview

See also:  Business continuity vs disaster recovery: Understanding the difference

One of the first measures in growing a business continuity plan is the Business impact analysis – typically known as BIA. This process allows you to understand specific functions that are crucial to your successful business. Also, you become clear of what effects a disruption will have on them

What is Business Impact Analysis (BIA)?

Business impact analysis (BIA) gives you an idea of how your business will hold up during a crisis. You’ll be able to pre-calculate the recovery time objectives for the services you offer. Also, you’ll be able to figure out the number of resources you need to keep your business running unhampered.

Using this information, you’ll be able to build the base of your disaster recovery and create your business continuity plan .

Business continuity and crisis management

How to conduct a business impact analysis

Follow the steps below to perform a business impact analysis flawlessly :

  • detect all sorts of business procedures and functions
  • prioritize the crucial functions or procedures
  • consider and analyze the possible business losses
  • choose recovery solutions accordingly
  • consider all the existing independencies such as with IT systems
  • measure the potential impacts of all the operational chaos on people, procedures, and technologies
  • measure all the legal and financial consequences
  • create a list of the requirements for the recovery time

The output you’ll get from doing these is the business impact analysis report. You’ll find this report :

  • assuming the worst possible scenarios
  • considering the potential loss of your business during a crisis
  • identifying the volume of the financial and operational consequences from the crisis

Business continuity and crisis management

Here are some of the impacts that a potential business crisis or loss functions can have :

  • the sales or income you lost
  • overtime, outsourcing, or any other higher costs or expenses
  • regulatory fines or contractual penalties
  • losing customers and major customer disappointment
  • dropping business reputation

Business continuity and crisis management

What is the difference between business impact analysis and risk assessment?

BIA and risk assessment both are business continuity tools. However, there is a difference between them.

You won’t find BIA directly focusing on the odds of an event. Instead, it paints all the possible worst-case scenarios. Risk assessment analysis helps you with measuring the overall potential risks and threats to your business and the effects they might have.

BIA helps the risk assessment to quantify and prioritize all the risks found.

Read on to understand how you can evaluate business risks .

Business continuity and crisis management

All businesses come with some risk and uncertainty. But that doesn’t mean each one of them will be devastating. By taking proper measures, damages and losses can be reduced.

Follow the crisis-mitigating strategies below to prepare yourself and prevent small risks that can take a snowball effect later on and pose a danger.

  • Business premises – Having an adequate backup plan for the crises will help in the long run.  For example, planning for a flood can lower the risk and save your premises from potential damages.

Again, having proper electrical and gas safety measures can provide enough protection to your premises from an unexpected fire. Also, fire and burglar alarm installation will be helpful.

Have a contingency plan in case you’re unable to use your premises will help you determine the feasibility of using alternative premises at short notice.

  • IT and communications – To protect your IT systems, make sure you install anti-virus, keep data back up, and ensure the right maintenance agreements. Paying an IT company to back up your data offsite on a secure server is also a smart option.

You can print the information of your customers and keep the hard copy in case the IT system fails. Check out these proven methods for IT risk management .

  • Employees – Consider training more staff with similar skills to use in emergencies. This way you won’t have to depend on a particular set of people for getting something done.

You should also check if there are temporary cover available from recruitment agencies in case there’s some medical emergencies or sickness. Take proper health and safety measures to keep the staff off risk.

  • Transport – Keep a record of your staff’s transportation. If possible, establish a car-sharing scheme or facilitate the staff with the company’s transportation to work and home.

You can also encourage them to use public transport. Provide sufficient facilities for the IT support systems and allow them to work from home.

  • Equipment, machinery, materials, etc – While using key equipment pieces, make sure you have them covered with maintenance plans that guarantee a swift emergency response.

You may find it challenging to gather particular materials during a crisis. So, reserving some mission-critical supplies and materials would be a great choice.

Also, have a list ready for the alternative supplies if your provider can’t manage the goods or materials you’d need.

  • Insurance – Insurance is a significant part of the effective risk-management strategy. Check how you can insure your business and assets . Also, you will understand how to insure your business – people, life, and health.
  • Understanding business continuity and crisis management
  • Creating a business continuity plan
  • Technology Risk Assessments
  • Using cloud computing to achieve business continuity
  • How to perform a cybersecurity risk assessment

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Lucy has more than 23 years of experience in the technology industry. Specialising in the cloud and telecommunications sectors, Lucy has previously worked in senior management roles within HR & Operations for major national and international organisations such as BT, O2 and more recently, Vodafone. Lucy is currently the Deputy Online Editor at BusinessTechWeekly.com

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How does Crisis Management differ from Business Continuity Planning?

difference crisis management bcp

Crisis management and business continuity planning are two essential aspects of any organization's risk management strategy. While they share a common goal of minimizing potential disruptions to business operations, they approach this objective from different angles. In this blog post, we will explore the key differences between crisis management and business continuity planning, and why both are crucial for the long-term success and resilience of a business.

Understanding Crisis Management

Crisis management is the process of handling and mitigating unforeseen events or situations that pose a significant threat to an organization's reputation, operations, or stakeholders. Crises can arise due to a wide range of factors, such as natural disasters, accidents, employee misconduct, cyber-attacks, or product recalls. The primary objective of crisis management is to respond effectively to an ongoing crisis, minimize its negative impact, and restore normalcy as quickly as possible.

The Role of Crisis Management

Crisis management involves a proactive approach to address and manage potential crises. It typically includes the following key steps:

  • Risk Assessment: Identifying potential risks and vulnerabilities that could lead to a crisis.
  • Crisis Planning: Developing a detailed plan outlining the roles, responsibilities, and actions to be taken during a crisis.
  • Communication: Establishing effective communication strategies to inform stakeholders, employees, customers, and the public about the crisis and the actions being taken to resolve it.
  • Response and Recovery: Coordinating the necessary response efforts, such as activating an emergency response team, implementing contingency plans, and collaborating with external stakeholders to mitigate the crisis's impact.

Business Continuity Planning Defined

While crisis management focuses on responding to and recovering from a crisis, business continuity planning is centered around ensuring the continued operation of critical business functions during and after a crisis. Business continuity planning takes a proactive approach to identify potential threats and develop strategies to minimize the impact of those threats on business operations.

The Role of Business Continuity Planning

Business continuity planning involves developing a roadmap for maintaining essential operations, services, and functions regardless of the disruptions caused by a crisis. The key steps in business continuity planning include:

  • Business Impact Analysis: Assessing the potential impact of various threats on critical business functions and prioritizing them accordingly.
  • Continuity Strategy Development: Defining and implementing strategies and measures to ensure the availability and rapid recovery of critical business functions.
  • Plan Development: Creating a detailed, customized plan that outlines the steps, procedures, and resources required to maintain business operations during and after a crisis.
  • Testing and Training: Regularly testing the plan's effectiveness and conducting training sessions to ensure employees are aware of their roles and responsibilities during a crisis.

Key Differences Between Crisis Management and Business Continuity Planning

While both crisis management and business continuity planning are integral to effective risk management, they differ in their focus and timing:

  • Timing: Crisis management is primarily concerned with responding to and recovering from a crisis as it unfolds, while business continuity planning focuses on preparing for and mitigating the impact of potential crises before they occur.
  • Scope: Crisis management typically deals with the immediate and short-term response to a crisis, while business continuity planning takes a more holistic view of an organization's long-term resilience and its ability to maintain essential operations under various disruptions.
  • Objectives: Crisis management aims to minimize the damage caused by a crisis while mitigating its impacts on reputation, stakeholders, and business operations. Business continuity planning, on the other hand, focuses on ensuring the uninterrupted continuation of critical business functions, meeting customer expectations, and safeguarding the overall sustainability of the organization.

Crisis management and business continuity planning are two distinct but interconnected disciplines that lay the foundation for effective risk management. While crisis management deals with responding to and recovering from crises, business continuity planning focuses on maintaining critical operations and building resilience. Both approaches are crucial for businesses of all sizes, as they help minimize disruptions, protect reputations, and ensure long-term success in an unpredictable world.

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Creating a Successful Crisis Management Plan

A crisis may come in many forms, such as a natural disaster, a global pandemic, loss of power and water supply, a cyberattack, an operational accident, violent threats or supply chain issues. In a manufacturing environment, a crisis is defined as an unexpected event or situation that can threaten an organization’s business, cause harm to the health and safety of employees and consumers, disrupt operations or damage a company’s brand or reputation. An organization’s reaction to and the consequences of a crisis can vary significantly for each company, depending on factors such as crisis preparedness, maturity, size and scale of operations and financial viability. The COVID-19 pandemic has made most organizations aware of vulnerabilities in anticipating, preparing for, responding to and managing crises. There has been a renewed awareness of the importance of a robust crisis management plan (CMP) and a focus on business continuity.

What to Do and Where to Start

Planning can help an organization contain and mitigate the negative effects of a crisis. The reaction of an organization to a crisis speaks to its culture and reflects its leadership. The way that business leaders prepare for and respond to disruptive events can determine how they recover and become resilient.

In a 2018 Deloitte survey of organizations from around the globe, 47% of those without a crisis management plan reported that their finances were negatively impacted by a recent crisis, compared to 31% of those that did have a plan. 1

Similarly, a 2019 PwC global crisis survey of various organizations from different industries across the globe found that organizations that emerged stronger from a crisis had implemented preparatory measures (such as having a CMP in place) in anticipation of a crisis. 2

NSF recognizes the importance of crisis management and how having a process affects business continuity. NSF’s GMP registration and certification programs include requirements for organizations to implement a CMP to address situations or emergencies arising from a crisis that may impact their ability to deliver a safe product. The purpose of a CMP is to prepare an organization to respond quickly to a crisis, minimize the harm and restore operations in an effective and efficient manner.

Business continuity and the implementation of a CMP is the responsibility of each employee, department, the crisis management plan team, executive management and the board of directors.

Steps in Developing and Maintaining a CMP

Steps in Developing and Maintaining a CMP

1. Assess Company Threats

A starting point is to identify the industry threats and those unique to your organization, location or region, market, products and processes. After identification, assess threats for likelihood and the expected severity of the impact. Next, identify warning signs for each crisis. These assessments will assist with prioritizing actions and allocating resources.

This NSF risk analysis matrix can help in your assessment.

NSF risk analysis matrix can help in your assessment

Examples of questions to ask during the assessment process:

  • What are the potential threats to your organization that could result in a crisis, thus impacting your ability to deliver a safe product?
  • How vulnerable is your organization to these threats?
  • What are the potential impacts of the crisis?
  • How will the crisis impact the operations at the site?
  • What mechanisms does your organization currently have to track and respond to these potential threats?

2. Develop a Crisis Management Plan

According to the 2019 PwC global study, three characteristics comprise successful crisis management: preparedness, a fact-based approach and effectiveness of stakeholder communications. The study also found that while it is a positive sign that most senior executives want to own and be involved in preparing for and responding to a crisis, an overlap of roles and responsibilities may occur. This can affect effective and efficient coordination, communication and decision-making during a crisis. 3

A CMP serves as a guidebook for an organization to navigate the different situations that can arise from a crisis and who is responsible for each item. An effective CMP has the following elements:

  • Define and assign responsibilities for gathering information and for initiating, coordinating and overseeing crises responses
  • Establish sources of credible and factual information
  • Find resources for expert and legal advice
  • Define lines of authority and accountability (hierarchy)
  • Establish escalation process for decisions
  • Define tools, routes and responsibilities for communications
  • Set a process for disseminating and sharing information between crisis management team and employees
  • Draft key messaging and talking points
  • Set a process for communication with authorities, regulatory agencies, stakeholders, media and the public
  • Define controls to ensure a response does not compromise product safety
  • Set measures to identify and isolate product affected by the crisis
  • Identify availability of resources and provisions for back-up sources for critical systems
  • Define and track key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Set measures to evaluate and determine disposition of affected product

3. Test the Crisis Management Plan

To quickly execute a CMP during a crisis, it is important to perform a periodic exercise or simulation to test the plan. Practices or drills of different crisis situations can reveal an organization’s strengths as well as gaps in the level of preparedness. After the challenge, the team should analyze what went well and what did not, and update the CMP accordingly. In testing the crisis management plan, the organization must include the impact to product safety as well as the safety of its employees.

Providing crisis management training and including all personnel in the test scenarios will make them aware of the CMP. This will empower personnel to be proactive when a crisis does arise, including knowing whom to inform.

4. Monitor Threats and Review the CMP

Disruption to an organization’s business can occur when it is least expected, so it is important that an organization looks ahead and assesses potential threats, whether internal or external. As the business environment changes, the CMP may need to be updated as well. The CMP must be reviewed on a periodic basis to ensure it will still be effective in the event of an actual crisis.

Business Continuity

In addition to having a CMP to respond quickly to a crisis, an organization must also have a plan in place to continue operations during an incident and recover from the crisis. Business continuity planning is an ongoing process to ensure that the necessary steps are taken to identify the impact of potential losses and maintain viable recovery strategies, recovery plans and continuity of services. 4 A business continuity plan (BCP) is the document that contains these strategies.

Interrelation of CMP with BCP

Interrelation of CMP with BCP

The process of developing a BCP is similar to developing a CMP. The BCP incorporates all hazards (human-caused events, technological issues and natural hazards) and a risk assessment to understand the business impact to people, infrastructure, operations, the environment, economic conditions, regulatory and contractual obligations, and reputation. The analysis identifies what is an unacceptable impact for loss of information, critical processes, function and applications, among other factors.

Senior management then establishes a prevention strategy based on the results of hazard identification and risk assessment, impact analysis, program constraints, operational experience and cost-benefit analysis. Prevention includes training, monitoring of the quality management system, testing the BCP at a determined frequency and performing exercises to ensure the program is working. Last but not least, mitigation strategies must be applied to ensure measures are taken to limit or control the consequences, extent or severity of an incident that cannot be prevented.

In structuring the BCP, consider factors such as the regulatory landscape, contractual obligations, financial resources and infrastructure. The commitment of senior management in applying resources to ensure recovery and continuity of operations will ensure a strong business continuity program.

Preparing a CMP and BCP takes resources, time and effort, but it is imperative that an organization is vigilant to possible new threats while continuing to monitor existing ones. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that a crisis can occur unexpectedly and from unanticipated sources. An organization can emerge better, stronger and more resilient from a crisis if it is able to anticipate and assess potential threats and has a plan in place to quickly respond and recover.

1 Deloitte. Stronger, fitter, better: Crisis Management for the resilient enterprise. June 2018. (https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/topics/risk-management/crisis-management-plan-resilient-enterprise.html)

2 PwC 2019 Global Crisis Survey (https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/services/forensics/global-crisis-survey.html)

3 PwC 2019 Global Crisis Survey

3 NFPA1600 Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs 2010 Edition

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Crisis management and business continuity planning

Unplanned events can have a devastating effect on small businesses. Crises such as fire, damage to stock, illness of key staff or IT system failure could all make it difficult or even impossible to carry out your normal day-to-day activities.

At worst, this could see you losing important customers - and even going out of business altogether.

But with good planning you can take steps to minimise the potential impact of a disaster - and ideally prevent it happening in the first place.

This guide will help you to identify potential risks, make preparations for emergencies and test how your business is likely to cope in a disaster.

Why you need to plan for possible crises

Crises that could affect your business, assess the possible impact of risks on your business, minimise the potential impact of crises, plan how you'll deal with an emergency, test your business continuity plan.

It's essential to plan thoroughly to protect yourself from the impact of potential crises - from fire, flood or theft to IT system failure, restricted access to premises or illness of key staff.

This planning is very important for small businesses since they often lack the resources to cope easily in a crisis.

Failure to plan could be disastrous. At best you risk losing customers while you're getting your business back on its feet. At worst your business may never recover and may ultimately cease trading .

As part of the planning process you should:

  • identify potential crises that might affect you
  • determine how you intend to minimise the risks of these disasters occurring
  • set out how you'll react if a disaster occurs in a business continuity plan
  • test the plan regularly

For example, if you're reliant on computer information, you should put a back-up system in place so you have a copy of key data in the event of a system failure.

Benefits of a business continuity plan

A carefully thought-out business continuity plan will make coping in a crisis easier and enable you to minimise disruption to the business and its customers.

It will also prove to customers, insurers and investors that your business is robust enough to cope with anything that might be thrown at you - possibly giving you the edge over your competitors.

Depending on your business' specific circumstances, there are many possible events that might constitute a crisis:

  • Natural disasters - for example, flooding caused by burst water pipes or heavy rain, or wind damage following storms.
  • Theft or vandalism - theft of computer equipment, for instance, could prove devastating. Similarly, vandalism of machinery or vehicles could not only be costly but also pose health and safety risks.
  • Fire - few other situations have such potential to physically destroy a business.
  • Power cut - loss of power could have serious consequences. What would you do if you couldn't use IT or telecoms systems or operate other key machinery or equipment?
  • IT system failure - computer viruses, attacks by hackers or system failures could affect employees' ability to work effectively.
  • Restricted access to premises - how would your business function if you couldn't access your workplace - for example, due to a gas leak?
  • Loss or illness of key staff - if any of your staff is central to the running of your business, consider how you would cope if they were to leave or be incapacitated by illness.
  • Outbreak of disease or infection - depending on your type of business an outbreak of an infectious disease among your staff, in your premises or among livestock could present serious health and safety risks.
  • Terrorist attack - consider the risks to your employees and your business operations if there is a terrorist strike, either where your business is based or in locations to which you and your employees travel. Also consider whether an attack may have a longer-term effect on your particular market or sector.
  • Crises affecting suppliers - how would you source alternative supplies?
  • Crises affecting customers - will insurance or customer guarantees offset a client's inability to take your goods or services?
  • Crises affecting your business' reputation - how would you cope, for example, in the event of a product recall?

Though some of these scenarios may seem unlikely, it's prudent to give them consideration.

You need to analyse the probability and consequences of crises that could affect your business. This involves:

  • assessing the likelihood of a particular crisis occurring - and its possible frequency
  • determining its possible impact on your operations

This kind of analysis should help you to identify which business functions are essential to day-to-day business operations. You're likely to conclude that certain roles within the business - while necessary in normal circumstances - aren't absolutely critical in a disaster scenario.

Likelihood of risks occurring

It can help to grade the probability of a particular crisis occurring, perhaps on a numerical scale or as high, medium or low.

This will help you to decide your business' attitude towards each risk. You may decide to do nothing about a low-probability crisis - although remember that it could still be highly damaging to your business if it occurred, e.g. a terrorist attack.

Potential impact of a crisis

To determine the possible impact of a crisis on your business, it can be helpful to think of some of the worst possible scenarios and how they might prove debilitating for the business.

For instance, how could you access data on your customers and suppliers if computer equipment was stolen or damaged by a flood? Where would the business operate from if your premises were destroyed by fire?

It's essential to look at risks from the perspective of your customers . Consider how they'd be affected by each potential crisis. Would they be likely to look for alternative suppliers?

Consider whether you would be able to keep to service-level agreements (SLAs) if a particular crisis occurred - and what the consequences might be if you couldn't.

Once you've identified the key risks your business faces, you need to take steps to protect your business functions against them.

Good electrical and gas safety could help protect premises against fire. Installing fire and burglar alarms also makes sense.

Think what you would do in an emergency if your premises couldn't be used. For example, you might suggest an arrangement with another local business to share premises temporarily if a crisis affected either of you.

Equipment/machinery

If you use vital pieces of equipment, you may want to cover them with maintenance plans guaranteeing a fast emergency call-out.

IT and communications

Installing anti-virus software, backing up data and ensuring the right maintenance agreements are in place can all help protect your IT systems. You might also consider paying an IT company to regularly back up your data offsite on a secure server.

Printing out copies of your customer database can be a good way of ensuring you can still contact customers if your IT system fails.

Try to ensure you're not dependent on a few staff for key skills by getting them to train other people.

Consider whether you could get temporary cover from a recruitment agency if illness left you without several key members of staff. And take health and safety seriously to reduce the risk of staff injuries.

Insurance forms a central part of an effective risk-management strategy.

You should draw up a business continuity plan setting out in writing how you will cope if a crisis does occur.

It should detail:

  • the key business functions you need to get operating as quickly as possible and the resources you'll need to do so
  • the roles of individuals in the emergency

Making the most of the first hour after an emergency occurs is essential in minimising the impact. As a result, your plan needs to explain the immediate actions to be taken.

Consider whether you'll need to give staff specific training to enable them to fulfil their responsibilities in an emergency situation. Ensure all employees are aware of what they have to do.

Arranging the plan in the form of checklists can be a good way to make sure that key steps are followed.

Include contact details for those you're likely to have to notify in an emergency such as the emergency services, insurers, municipal services, customers, suppliers, utility companies and neighbouring businesses.

It's also worth including details of service-providers such as glaziers, locksmiths, plumbers, electricians, and IT specialists. Include maps of your premises' layout to help emergency services, showing fire escapes, sprinklers and other safety equipment.

Set out how you'll deal with possible media interest in an incident. Appoint a single company spokesperson to handle questions and try to be positive in any statements you issue. Ensure staff, customers and suppliers are informed before they find out in the media.

Finally, make sure hard copies of your business continuity plan are lodged at your home and at with your bank and at the homes of other key members of staff.

Once your plan is in place, you'll need to test how well it's likely to perform in the event of an emergency.

Although by their nature crises are hard to simulate in a rehearsal, you can assess your plan against a number of possible scenarios in a paper-based exercise.

Think about the things that would cause most disruption and that are most likely to happen to your business. Then make sure that your plan covers each of the risks. Ask yourself the following key questions:

  • Does it set out each employee's role in the event of each emergency?
  • Have you set out the right steps to take?
  • Is the order of the plan correct so that priority actions to minimise damage will take place immediately after the incident?

Make some telephone calls to check that the key contacts and phone numbers that you have given are correct. Having to find the right number after a crisis could use up valuable time.

Keep your plan updated

Remember to update your plan regularly to take into account your business' changing circumstances.

If you move into new premises, for example, you could face an entirely new set of risks. You'd need to draw up new maps for the emergency services and amend any contact numbers necessary.

You should test your plan regularly, even if your business hasn't undergone significant changes.

You can also consult the following guide:

  • 8 steps for planning your emergency and disaster plan

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Integrating Crisis Management & Business Continuity for a successful response

  • 03 Nov 2020
  • The business continuity environment
  • Working with others

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Many organizations treat Crisis Management (CM) and Business Continuity Management (BCM) as separate disciplines with separate reporting lines.  Consequently, they often lose the ability to take advantage of these two disciplines’ inherent interconnectivity when managing a disruptive event that threatens the reputation and/or continuing operations of the organization.

In these organizations, the challenge is often that the response to an event is seen through different lenses. For example, when a severe IT disruption occurs, it is usually treated, at least initially, as purely a technical event with its own language and its own taxonomy. This is the traditional technical Incident Management process in which Business Continuity may have little or no role to play.  However, this approach often lacks the articulation of the severity of the impact in business terms and the appropriate management actions required to ensure a response by the organization. This “non-integration” can lead to a delayed business response and reputational damage, as misalignment between the technical response and the organization as a whole results in conflicting actions.  Greater integration between CM and BCM can improve an organization’s ability to respond to disruptive events by reducing the risk of delays, conflicting priorities and miscommunication.

BCM is defined as a holistic management process for identifying potential impacts from threats, and for developing response plans. The objective, ultimately, is to minimize the impact of disruptions by increasing the speed of recovery.

Crisis Management is the overall coordination of an organization's response to a crisis, with the goal of avoiding or minimizing damage to the organization's profitability, reputation, or ability to operate.

The differentiating factor is the level at which these functions are implemented. The CM function is usually a strategic function implemented by the ‘Gold Team’ (typically the Executive Team); the BCM function is an operational function, implemented by the ‘Bronze Team’ (typically the Operational Teams).  What sits between these two functions to facilitate the process is the tactical function implemented by the ‘Silver Team’ (typically the Management Team).  

Diagram 1 shows the hierarchy as well as the illustration of integration. CM and BCM can collectively be described as two halves of the same coin, each side with their own objective, but working symbiotically to strengthen the outcome.

CM does not always have to be invoked by the Gold Team. CM can also be implemented at the Tactical level by a Silver Team, perhaps at Divisional level. This will depend on the size of the organization as well as the nature of the disruptive event. Both the levels of application will result in the operational function being implemented by the Bronze Team. It will be the nature of the event and its impact that will determine the level of activation required.  

To better understand the above process, we will use the following example from the financial services sector. The trading systems in the Capital Markets Division becomes inaccessible due to a faulty switch on the trading floor in one area of the building. The scenario only impacts the trading operational function and Capital Markets as a Division. The event is deemed a crisis due to its potential for far-reaching financial impacts on the organization. It is now dealt with at a tactical level by the Silver Team (Management).  The Divisional Crisis Management plan is implemented. The decision is made to invoke the trading team continuity processes (implemented by the Bronze Team) and move them to alternate premises to resume the critical service.  The Tactical Team keeps the Gold Team (Executive) informed of the impacts of the incident and the status of the resolution.  Should this event escalate to have a broader impact on the organization by starting to impact other services such as Payments and Client Services, the event will be escalated to the Gold Team to make organizational decisions to mitigate regulatory and reputational impacts.

This example illustrates how integration of CM and BCM is applied during an event.

What are the benefits of integrating Crisis Management and Business Continuity?

  • Ensure a seamless response from all levels of the organization as roles and responsibilities and expected actions are clearly defined and understood in both the Business Continuity function and the Crisis Management function. This allows the organization to focus on resumption in a shorter timeframe.
  • Having established Business Continuity representatives allows the organization to identify Operational issues and their strategic impacts in a quicker way. This also ensures faster escalation de-escalation, resolutions and resumption.
  • Provides a sense of “everything is under control”. The disruptive event is managed by appropriate and competent teams, which helps to protect the brand and stakeholders’ interests.
  • Enhanced communication channels. The CM function gathers relevant information from all three levels and disseminates it to the stakeholders.
  • When CM and BCM work together through a disruptive event, a sense of interconnectedness is formed which helps the organization to better achieve the goal – business continuity.
  • Enhanced Transparency and end-to-end reporting of incidents, which allows for an all-inclusive view of the event, as well as identifying areas of improvement and lessons learnt.

How do we integrate Crisis Management and Business Continuity?

The integration of CM and BCM happens in the Implementation phase of the BCM Lifecycle as described in the in the BCI Good Practice Guidelines 2018 and ISO 22301 standard. 

There are also other phases of the BCM Lifecycle that contribute to this integration process. The Business Impact Analysis (BIA) - where critical services for the Recovery Strategy are determined – is one of them.

The Recovery Strategy will then drive the content for integration of these two functions as the strategic actions to manage an event will be outlined in the Crisis Management Plan and the operational recovery actions in the Business Continuity Plans.

Thus, it is of great importance that sufficient time is spent on the BIA and Recovery Strategy phases in order to gain the practical content for the Crisis Management and Business Continuity Plans The Crisis Management Plan cannot be completed if there is no knowledge of the impacts that we are trying to mitigate in a specified timeframe and at a tolerable level.

Once these details are gathered and detailed in the Business Continuity Plan, the information is consolidated as input to the Crisis Management Plan with a particular focus on the strategic response and action. The BC Plan and the CM Plan must reference each other.

It can be depicted as a hierarchy of plans with the Crisis Management and Crisis Communications Plan at the pinnacle and Business Continuity Plans on the underpinning layers as support to the Crisis Management plan with up-and-down arrows on the side to indicate bi-directional activation and escalations.

Disruptions mostly start at a divisional level, but they can potentially extend to the entire organization. For this reason, the Divisional Crisis Management Plan details when the organizational plan should be activated, how and by whom.

Business Continuity Plans are implemented based on decision-making processes that take place within the CM Team.  It is only then that resumption teams can implement the appropriate actions at the right level.

A typical structure of integration can be depicted in the below diagram:

Diagram1

The example above shows how important it is for CM and BC to be interconnected. Integration is necessary to ensure that organizations can effectively respond to any disruptive event. Whether that may be  at a Divisional level or an Organizational level, having an integrated system ensures a coherent response to achieve a single goal during a crisis - and that is to resume the business as quickly as possible, at the acceptable tolerable levels with the least amount of financial, reputational and regulatory impacts.

About the author: 

Chantal Coetzer has built-up extensive practical experience in all components relating to Business Continuity Management (BCM), Business Resilience (BR) and Enterprise Risk Management (ERM), predominantly in the financial industry and has relevant experience in the Health and Physical Security industry.  She works with organizations to implement enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of their business resilience and crisis management programmes and teams. She has been pivotal in the design and planning for various scenarios at different organizations as well as planning for protracted outages on the national infrastructure. Specialties are the design, implementation and maintenance of Business Continuity Management, Resilience and Enterprise Risk Management programmes, as well as the designing, developing and facilitating of Business Continuity Management, Business Resilience and Enterprise Risk Management training and simulation exercise programmes. She has obtained her BCI MBCI accreditation in 2005 and is currently a Group BCM Manager. 

  • Business Continuity
  • Crisis, incident and emergency management

About the author

Chantal Coetzer_074546460.png

Chantal Coetzer

Group BCM Manager

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crisis management plan and business continuity plan

2023 年度第 6 回定例会 / FY2023 sixth regular meeting

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Conducttr: Live Crisis Exercises - Ransomware Attack

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Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Crisis Management Plan

By Andy Marker | June 15, 2020 (updated August 12, 2023)

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Every business needs a crisis management plan to prepare for an emergency. We offer the most useful, detailed step-by-step directions on how to create a crisis management plan, including free templates and expert advice. 

Included on this page, you’ll learn the essential elements in a crisis management plan , and find a free corporate crisis management plan template as well as detailed instructions on writing a plan .

What Is a Crisis Management Plan?

A crisis management plan (CMP) describes how your business will react to a crisis, including who will be involved and what they will do. The plan strives to minimize harm and restore operations as soon as possible.

Crises come in many forms, but generally they threaten your organization’s operations, reputation, finances, or strategic objectives. Some crises jeopardize lives, health, and safety. The crisis management plan is a key piece of crisis management. To read more about crisis management please visit our  "The Essential Guide to Crisis Management"  article.

According to a 2018 Deloitte survey of large companies around the world, 84 percent have a crisis management plan , up from 49 percent, according to a similar Deloitte survey on crisis management from 2015.

Importance of a Crisis Management Plan

Having a crisis management plan is critical because, without one, people under stress may make poor decisions and may unintentionally extend or worsen a crisis. Taking swift, constructive action may be the key to your organization’s survival.

In the wake of a crisis, a plan keeps employees focused on an organization’s top priorities and combats fear and uncertainty that can compound the damage. Moreover, the exercise of creating a plan helps you to identify threats, minimize their likelihood, and improve the response.

A strong crisis management plan is also essential because emergencies and disasters are more common than many people realize. In 2019, consulting company PwC interviewed more than 2,000 senior executives around the world and found that 69 percent had experienced at least one corporate crisis in the last five years; in fact, these executives experienced an average of three crises during that same time period. 

These crises fell into almost 20 different categories, the most common being a financial or liquidity-related crisis, a technology failure, and an operations failure. Cyber crime, natural disasters, viral social media, and leadership misconduct also featured prominently on the list.

Planning helps a company contain and mitigate the negative effects of a crisis, which can include damage to reputation, loss of operations, and legal or regulatory trouble. A crisis can even close down a company. A quintessential example of a corporate crisis is the case of the Enron Corporation, which collapsed in the early 2000s over a scandal that started with falsified accounting. To learn more, find other examples of poor crisis management and communication and how they could have potentially been avoided.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 40 to 60 percent of small businesses cease operations after a disaster.

Purpose of a Crisis Management Plan

A crisis management plan prepares an organization to cope with an unexpected calamity in the following ways: It shortens and lessens the impact of a crisis; it protects employees and anyone else affected; it preserves operations and productivity as much as possible; and it safeguards a company’s reputation.  

Crisis planning seeks to make your company more resilient and more capable of weathering the long-term effects of a crisis. The PwC study cited above found that organizations that had a crisis response plan in place fared better (after a crisis) by a margin of nearly two to one. In fact, 41 percent of those companies with plans emerged stronger than before, and 39 percent saw their revenue grow as a result. 

The CEO and other senior executives at an organization are largely responsible for making sure a crisis management strategy exists. However, crisis management planning is the responsibility of the crisis management leader and their team, along with support from the business continuity, risk management, legal, and other specialized departments. For details on crisis management strategy, see “ How to Craft Crisis Management Strategies .”

Developing a Crisis Management Plan: 10 Items to Include

An effective crisis management plan has 10 essential elements. These include a risk analysis, an activation protocol, a chain of command, a command center plan, response action plans, internal and external communication programs, resources, training, and a review. 

The crisis management team is largely responsible for creating the crisis plan. All team members have input, and the team also consults other stakeholders, such as the operations staff and senior management. The plan spells out important roles in the crisis response and each person’s responsibilities. For in-depth instructions on how to form a crisis team, see “How to Build an Effective Crisis Management Team.”  

“A good crisis plan possesses a variety of elements that prepare crisis team members to effectively perform their duties when a crisis occurs,” explains Deborah Hileman, President and CEO of the Institute for Crisis Management . “You should include team roles and responsibilities, the chain of command, the operations center details, the command system structure, and communication, mitigation, and recovery activities. You should also include protocols that are specific to certain common scenarios.”

Because emergencies are unpredictable — and crises rarely unfold exactly as you’ve rehearsed — your crisis management plan must be flexible and practical. Therefore, make sure that your plan can adapt to changing circumstances and that you can realistically execute it under pressure. 

You should cover the following 10 components in your plan: 

  • Risk Analysis: Outline the scenarios you think your organization could face. Having a more specific sense of these potential occurrences will guide your planning. You do not need to include every conceivable risk, but cover a broad range, such as a natural disaster, a cyberattack, a loss of utilities, a technology failure, the death of a CEO, a shooter in the workplace, a financial crisis, an operational accident, and a product failure.
  • Activation Protocol: Be sure to include triggers for the crisis management plan, as the natural first response to an emergency is often paralysis. Using levels of urgency as your criterion, define the circumstances that activate a particular crisis response. In addition, explain how to escalate that response, in the event that a crisis turns out to be more serious than it first appeared. Based on the type or location of the incident, the protocol should also direct your staff on how to respond. And, the protocol should establish some type of communication that signals the end of a crisis. 
  • Chain of Command: Include a crisis management-related organization chart in your plan, so it’s clear who has final authority and who reports to whom. Making a well-defined org chart supports coordination and consistency, which decentralized organizations sometimes struggle to achieve. Depending on the seriousness of the event, your plan may call for additional layers of command. For example, an emergency at one site may activate the response team and leader at that particular site, but a company-wide crisis may require a headquarters crisis team that has regional teams operating underneath it. 
  • Command Center Plan: Determine what will serve as the base of operations for the team during a crisis. In addition, indicate what supplies and utilities the team will require. In the event that the first command center is unavailable, you will also need to designate a backup command center. Please see below for complete details on setting up a command center.
  • Response Action Plans: Perform detailed planning around how you will respond to various scenarios. This planning includes assigning responsibility for each task. Think of these response actions as modular elements that you should employ as the situation requires. Conceptualizing crises in this way makes your crisis management plan adaptable.  “The best plans use an all-hazard approach, meaning you don’t write plans with a specific crisis in mind, but rather with all potential hazards in mind. Using this method ensures that you’ll have a consistent response and a team that’s always ready, regardless of the nature of the incident,” recommends Regina Phelps, Founder of crisis management consulting firm Emergency Management & Safety Solutions .
  • Internal Communication Plan: Create systems and backup methods for members of the crisis management team to communicate with each other . Collect contact information for all team members as well as anyone they might need to call upon, including outside consultants and subject matter experts. You must also establish ways to disseminate urgent information to all employees, such as using a notification provider to send texts and automated calls or implementing a method for your employees to check in and report their safety and whereabouts. Determine how you will share sensitive news internally, such as a threat to the company’s viability or a loss of life. In addition, don’t forget to establish a schedule and mechanism for updates. 
  • External Communication Plan: Define plans for communicating with the public and key external stakeholders. Appoint a spokesperson. Write detailed instructions, including whom you will notify (e.g., media outlets in a particular geographic area). Also, draft holding statements, the details of which you can fill in later, once you have the relevant information. Prioritize your strategic communication objectives and outline talking points. Make sure your plans align with other communication efforts. Be ready to create a special website or telephone line to answer consumer or community questions. 
  • Resources: Think about everything the crisis management team might need, from hardhats to credit cards and a standby public relations advisor, and line these things up. Information resources will be especially important in a time of crisis. These resources include many kinds of stakeholder agreements, including union contracts, maps of facilities, timelines, flowcharts of key processes and procedures, supplier contracts, benefits information, and more.    
  • Training: Being able to execute your crisis management plan quickly is paramount, and holding drills and exercises with the crisis management team is crucial to that goal. Rehearsals or even tabletop drills can reveal flaws in the plan, and practice will help the crisis team become comfortable with their individual roles and work together. Make sure to stay current by doing regular training. In addition, provide training to other staff members based on their particular jobs, such as showing a warehouse manager how to use a fire extinguisher, explaining to a production associate how to stop an assembly line, or teaching an executive assistant how to respond to a media phone call. 
  • Review: Create a structured review process in order to schedule regular follow-up check-ins regarding your plan. As your business or the risk environment changes, you will need to update your crisis management plan. After an actual crisis, the team should analyze what went well and what did not. Identify important lessons, and implement any necessary changes.

Corporate Crisis Management Plan Template

Corporate Crisis Management Plan Template

Use this free template to draft your own crisis management plan, including all the elements outlined above. The template offers a crisis management plan example, and also includes space for a risk analysis, the chain of command, communication plans, and more. 

Download Corporate Crisis Management Plan Template

For more free crisis management templates, check out “Free Crisis Management Templates.”

Five Steps to Make a Crisis Management Plan

The five steps for drafting a crisis management plan are ground rules and risk assessment; business impact analysis; response and contingency planning; training and coordination; and review. Follow these steps to create a plan with all the essential elements.

Crisis Management Plan Step 1: Ground Rules and Risk Assessment

Once you have established your crisis management team, review your organization’s mission and values, and make sure your plan reflects those goals. Keeping your company’s overall mission and values front and center will ensure that your decisions prioritize honesty, transparency, and respect for lives and communities. Next, be sure to identify your organization’s top strategic priorities in a crisis, such as the ability to continue fulfilling orders.

Bryan Strawser

“A good plan starts by outlining the strategic objectives for an organization that is dealing with a disruption. Create your plan within the context of an all-hazards crisis management framework that clearly prioritizes life safety,” says Bryan Strawser, CEO of Bryghtpath LLC , a crisis management advisory firm. Strawser is also the former leader of the Target Corporation’s crisis management and business continuity function. 

Identify all the potential types of crises that your business is likely to face, and then rank them by probability and severity. Your core plan will include responses that apply to the most probable crises. 

Determining probability will also require an analysis of your vulnerabilities, because they may play a role in an internally caused or exacerbated crisis. For example, if you have inadequate handling protocols for volatile chemicals, an explosion or fire is much more probable. This process will shine a light on weaknesses and give you an opportunity to address them early on, possibly preventing a crisis from occurring. 

The nature of your business will determine the specific risks and vulnerabilities that you assess. However, every organization should start with some standard assessment questions about the overall risk culture and the risks to major functions and processes. Use this template to work through risk assessment questions that apply to virtually any organization.

Business Risk Assessment Questionnaire Template

Download Business Risk Assessment Questionnaire

Once you’ve identified potential risks, you can use the following risk management matrix template to rank them. By evaluating both the potential likelihood of the crisis and the expected severity of the impact, you can prioritize risks for mitigation.  

Risk Management Matrix Template

Download Risk Management Matrix Template

Excel | Word | PDF | Smartsheet

Next, you’ll need to create a plan for how to address the vulnerabilities you’ve identified. Use this remediation plan template to keep mitigation work on track by collecting information such as who is responsible, the steps they will take, and the milestones. 

crisis management plan and business continuity plan

Download Remediation Plan Template

Excel | Smartsheet

For more specialized assessments, such as IT vulnerabilities or facility vulnerabilities, use the templates from “Free Vulnerability Assessment Templates.”  

Consider the early action or preparation that could prevent a crisis from blossoming, such as stockpiling materials or doing predictive maintenance. Incorporate these considerations into your crisis management plan. 

As part of your risk assessment, identify the typical warning signs for each crisis, so you can be alert to them and respond early. If you are unsure about whether an incident constitutes a crisis, ask the following questions:

  • Is this event likely to interrupt normal operations?
  • Will the incident reflect negatively on the company or undermine the trust and confidence of customers, regulators, investors, or other stakeholders?
  • Will this event draw unwelcome scrutiny from regulators or the media?
  • How likely is this event to worsen and what would be the impact?

Some warning signs are clear, event driven, and concrete, like a weather forecast. Others are more subtle and unfold over time.

For example, the financial symptoms of a brewing crisis would be negative cash flow, insufficient operating income to cover operating expenses, a reliance on credit and debt, a declining stock price, and falling sales. The warning signals of a sales crisis include a lack of repeat business, a change in industry fundamentals, and a circumstance in which a majority of revenue comes from one or a handful of customers. 

Operational warning signals include recurring problems with equipment, control systems that do not activate soon enough, unexplained anomalies in processes, rising quality-control issues, high turnover among staff, and problems with unions.

Part of the challenge in identifying warning signals is being able to discern them from the everyday problems that may vex an organization. Both individual and organizational biases (such as a preference for information that reinforces existing beliefs and groupthink) can stand in the way of perceiving true crisis signals. Experience and expertise are vital to recognizing the signs of a crisis and interpreting those signs correctly. 

For example, regarding the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, BP later said that the operating crew had read signals of the looming disaster, but had interpreted them incorrectly and decided they weren’t serious. This misinterpretation led to a blowout that reached massive proportions.

Crisis Management Plan Step 2: Business Impact Analysis

The next step is performing a business impact analysis (BIA), in which you refine the predictions of likely impacts on your business from the risk assessment. Focus on the most probable scenarios first. 

This calculation involves a detailed analysis of a crisis’s financial and other consequences to your business, including disruptions in production, processes, the delivery of services, and other activities. These consequences may include lost sales, regulatory fines, and damage to your reputation.

For instructions and templates to help you perform BIA, see “All about Business Impact Analysis: A Step-by-Step How-To.”

Crisis Management Plan Step 3: Response and Contingency Planning

Response and contingency planning prepares your business to deal with the practical aspects of an actual crisis. In your crisis management planning, this step is likely to be the most significant.  

First, determine how your company should respond to the crises you’ve identified as both probable and potentially having the greatest negative impact. Rarely does a crisis unfold exactly the way you planned, so your base plan should be informed by an all hazards approach, meaning that it should be adaptable to a wide variety of circumstances.  

A good way to achieve this versatility is to think of your response actions as modules or elements that you can add when necessary. These actions could include the following: shutting down production; calling emergency services; issuing a holding statement; reviewing relevant legal issues; evacuating a facility; communicating with regulators; getting an emergency line of credit; offering counseling; taking security measures; notifying senior executives; turning off utilities; and recalling products. Then, match the most likely risk scenarios with the necessary response elements. 

For example, the contamination of a food product would activate the following responses: shutting down production; issuing a holding statement; notifying senior executives; recalling the product; communicating with regulators; reviewing the relevant legal issues; and possibly getting an emergency line of credit. 

For instance, while your response to a warehouse flood would obviously be different from that to a food contamination issue, it would include some of the same actions. To create a more complete all-hazards portfolio for this particular case, add other modules, such as putting property defenses in place, relocating moveable assets, contacting an insurance adjuster, and lining up a specialist to repair water damage. 

Because novel crises (like a pandemic) require unusual measures, you will generally cover those in annexes. But, even these additional sections will incorporate some of your core response actions, such as activating work-from-home protocols.

You must spell out the actions you identify. Assign specific, realistic roles to teams or individuals. Also, create a detailed timeline during which various sequential actions must occur in order to respond properly to a particular disaster. 

For each scenario, think about the cause of the crisis and ways to prevent it. You should also consider the tools and resources you would need for the crisis response, as well as how long the crisis would probably last, how the crisis would affect customers, and how you would respond to that impact. For examples of actual crisis responses, see "The Most Useful Crisis Management Examples: The Good, Bad, and Ugly" . 

Additionally, consider other potential key stakeholders, whether you would need help from external specialists, and how you would coordinate with other emergency protocols in your organization. Also, if relevant, determine how the crisis would affect your ability to comply with regulatory requirements.   

“The plan should outline the escalation and communication of decisions to the executive team and/or the board of the organization, and it should also address how you reach decisions,” notes Strawser. “Finally, the plan should reference applicable industry standards as well as plan annexes that you’ve adopted in order to offer scenario-specific guidance.”

Communication planning is a vital part of the response and contingency step. Identify the best spokesperson for various crises (the CEO or other C-level executive should serve as the public face in very serious calamities). However, in general, the most knowledgeable person concerning the affected function is ideal. If your organization has a dedicated communication representative, they would also make a logical choice.  

Draft key messaging and talking points for both internal and external stakeholders, and plan how and when you will communicate during the crisis. 

Use the templates in “Free Crisis Communication Templates” to draft a detailed crisis communication plan and to develop plans for specific organizations, such as schools, hospitals, and restaurants.

To learn more about crisis management theory, see "Models and Theories to Improve Crisis Management" .

Because most people initially respond to crises with confusion and inaction, it’s crucial to make sure your plan clearly identifies the triggers that activate a crisis response. Also, make sure that you articulate clear signals for returning to normal operation.

Crisis Management Plan Step 4: Training and Coordination

Once you have fully developed your crisis management plan, shift your focus to ensuring that team members and other key staff know how to perform their roles. You should also coordinate with other stakeholders. In addition, be sure to alert suppliers and contractors, so they can support your emergency response.

Provide all crisis management team members with the plan. Print hard copies of the plan and distribute them at the designated command location. Also, make sure to store the plan electronically, so your employees can access it from their mobile devices. 

Immediately after you introduce the plan, train everyone so that they are comfortable with their duties and with working together. Then, perform drills and tests on a regular basis (e.g., once a quarter). 

Provide your employees with information that is relevant to their respective positions. For example, disseminate the protocol for working remotely and for resuming in-office work. In addition, communicate to your workforce its responsibilities under the business continuity plans.

Michael Fagel

Make sure that you keep the plan up to date and fresh in the minds of your staff members. Mike Fagel, Ph.D., CEM, veteran crisis management leader/instructor and Founder of Aurora Safety , an emergency response consulting firm, urges companies to support crisis planning by allocating resources to staff, including time for training and financial investment.

“People often come to me and say, ‘Remember us? You helped us with a plan in 2003. You said to train, to budget, and to allocate resources. We should have listened to you. Now, we’re in a crisis. What do we do to get ourselves back on track?’” Fagel says.

“Pointing fingers after the fact does no good. We don’t have time to look in the rear-view mirror. We have to look forward and drive ahead,” he adds.

Crisis Management Plan Step 5: Review and Update

In order to keep your crisis management plan current, schedule a regular review of its contents. 

When updating your plan, make sure to incorporate any relevant, recent changes to your business. Consider changes in processes, suppliers, facilities, and staff when making your updates. Crisis management experts recommend reviewing your plan at least once a year. 

If you have a crisis, do a review of the response, and incorporate the lessons on strengths and weaknesses into your plan.

Crisis Management Action Plan

A crisis management action plan differs from a base crisis plan by focusing on the sequence of steps in your organization’s response, stabilization, and recovery. While the two plans overlap substantially, an action plan is usually structured around a timeline.

You can also make a crisis management action plan into a stripped-down version of your crisis management plan that focuses on concrete actions, rather than policies, organization charts, etc. 

While a crisis management plan is comprehensive, an action plan can act as a quick-start guide. For this reason, an action plan can serve as a highly effective tool during the heat of a crisis by quickly letting you know what you should do next. 

Use this crisis management action plan template to record key contact information, plans, and procedures for recovery and restoration. 

Crisis Management Action Plan Template

Download Crisis Management Action Plan Template

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Crisis Management Plan Checklist

When you finish your crisis management plan, make sure it is clear and complete. Cover all the essentials, and evaluate the plan’s readability and ease of use. You may want to include a crisis management plan executive summary.

Make the plan highly accessible and searchable by incorporating bullets, numbered lists, and an outline or a table of contents.

Then, assess your plan based on this checklist of questions:

  • Does your plan reflect your organization’s mission and values? 
  • Do you have measures to identify crisis warning signs?
  • Do you have the contact information for all members of the crisis management team, as well as those for key advisors, stakeholders, and support services?
  • Do your crisis scenarios represent a range of the most probable emergencies for your organization?
  • Have you identified core response action elements?
  • Have you mapped the response actions to the crisis scenarios?
  • Have you planned for crisis communication? 
  • Is there a clear chain of command in the crisis team? 
  • Have you established a signal to communicate when a crisis has occurred and when the situation is all clear again? 
  • Does your crisis plan include procedures for assessing the severity of an event and its impact?
  • Have you included the training and plans that you need to update? 
  • Have you identified and set up a command center?
  • Have you identified and obtained all the necessary back-up resources?

Crisis Management Plan Checklist

Establishing a Command Center for Crisis Management

As part of your planning, you need to establish a base from which the crisis management team can oversee the crisis response.

Designate a command center and a backup location for each team. Make sure that one of these locations is an off-site room (separate and apart from your company’s main location). The room should be accessible 24/7 and have power, a network, Wi-Fi, phone connections, and a strong cell signal in order to accommodate all team members.

If possible, select a room that’s close to bathrooms and a shower. Ideally, this location will also have space nearby that you can convert into a lounge or nap area, if necessary.   

Equip the center with a conference table, chairs, a large whiteboard, videoconferencing capability, a projector and screen, cable-connected televisions, computer workstations, a network connection, office supplies, bottled water, and nonperishable snacks.

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Business continuity

A holistic approach .

Can your organisation sustain operations in the midst of a serious crisis? How do you identify “mission-critical” processes? Do you have a backup strategy in the event of a massive disruption in your technology, facilities or other functions? Are your employees trained to respond during business disruptions?

Companies that take a holistic approach to business continuity management develop the ability to identify, prevent and prepare for events that may disrupt normal activities. 

A fully integrated business continuity strategy helps to build an overall culture of resilience .

67% of organisations applied a business continuity plan as part of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: PwC’s Global Crisis Survey 2021

Business continuity and a culture of resilience

Business continuity means more than just making sure the lights stay on when a crisis hits. The benefits of establishing a business continuity strategy include:

  • Resilience: With greater awareness of what really matters during a crisis, you can focus resources effectively.
  • Employee engagement and ownership: Your people understand their roles and responsibilities in a crisis, and are invested in executing a seamless recovery .
  • Strategic recovery plans: Pre-defined strategic decisions are embedded into recovery plans to guide your people toward a common goal during disruption.
  • Detailed business impacts and risks identified: Potential risks and areas of concern can be mitigated in “peace time” rather than in the heat of a crisis. 
  • Empowered leadership: Leaders are actively enabled to monitor the state of resilience within the organisation and provide hands-on guidance and support.
  • Continuous improvement: Tests, drills and simulation exercises help you understand what works and what doesn’t, enabling continued resilience and growth.

Assessing an organisation’s business continuity program

Effective business continuity programs have a common framework, core capabilities, and coordination of resources and activities to plan for and respond to events. 

PwC’s Organizational Preparedness Assessment (OPA), based on leading industry practices, helps organisations identify program blind spots and provides actionable recommendations to enhance program maturity.

PwC’s business continuity planning solutions

We’ve built scalable solutions to create a bespoke solution for each of our clients:

  • Business continuity program assessment and design
  • Business impact analysis and interruption risk assessment
  • Recovery plan creation and resilience improvement
  • Business continuity program exercises, maintenance and training
  • Business continuity program technology enablement and enterprise risk management integration
  • Third-party resilience framework and analysis
  • Crisis management program development and exercises
  • Information technology disaster recovery and business continuity program alignment and analysis

PwC brings depth and experience to support your response to an enterprise-wide crisis

Our PwC crisis management teams have developed tools and processes to help you survive an unexpected event and emerge stronger.

We take a holistic view of your organisation’s business continuity needs. And as your trusted advisor, we’ll help you build resilience for the long term.

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Dave Stainback

Dave Stainback

Global Crisis & Resilience Co-Leader, PwC United States

Tel: +1 678 419 1355

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Bobbie Ramsden-Knowles

Global Crisis & Resilience Co-Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7483 422701

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What Is A Business Continuity Plan? [+ Template & Examples]

Swetha Amaresan

Published: December 30, 2022

When a business crisis occurs, the last thing you want to do is panic.

executives discussing business continuity plan

The second-to-last thing you want to do is be unprepared. Crises typically arise without warning. While you shouldn't start every day expecting the worst, you should be relatively prepared for anything to happen.

A business crisis can cost your company a lot of money and ruin your reputation if you don't have a business continuity plan in place. Customers aren't very forgiving, especially when a crisis is influenced by accidents within the company or other preventable mistakes. If you want your company to be able to maintain its business continuity in the face of a crisis, then you'll need to come up with this type of plan to uphold its essential functions.

Free Download: Crisis Management Plan & Communication Templates

In this post, we'll explain what a business continuity plan is, give examples of scenarios that would require a business continuity plan, and provide a template that you can use to create a well-rounded program for your business.

Table of Contents:

What is a business continuity plan?

  • Business Continuity Types
  • Business Continuity vs Disaster Recovery

Business Continuity Plan Template

How to write a business continuity plan.

  • Business Continuity Examples

A business continuity plan outlines directions and procedures that your company will follow when faced with a crisis. These plans include business procedures, names of assets and partners, human resource functions, and other helpful information that can help maintain your brand's relationships with relevant stakeholders. The goal of a business continuity plan is to handle anything from minor disruptions to full-blown threats.

For example, one crisis that your business may have to respond to is a severe snowstorm. Your team may be wondering, "If a snowstorm disrupted our supply chain, how would we resume business?" Planning contingencies ahead of time for situations like these can help your business stay afloat when you're faced with an unavoidable crisis.

When you think about business continuity in terms of the essential functions your business requires to operate, you can begin to mitigate and plan for specific risks within those functions.

crisis management plan and business continuity plan

Crisis Communication and Management Kit

Manage, plan for, and communicate during your corporate crises with these crisis management plan templates.

  • Free Crisis Management Plan Template
  • 12 Crisis Communication Templates
  • Post-Crisis Performance Grading Template
  • Additional Crisis Best Management Practices

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Business Continuity Planning

Business continuity planning is the process of creating a plan to address a crisis. When writing out a business continuity plan, it's important to consider the variety of crises that could potentially affect the company and prepare a resolution for each.

Business Continuity Plan

3. Hold tabletop reviews every other year.

All stakeholders that are involved in your business continuity plan should meet every other year to discuss it. The review doesn't need to take too much time and doesn't require physically running through the steps, but it can help you uncover red flags that may otherwise go unnoticed without testing.

4. Conduct a comprehensive review every other year.

Unlike the tabletop review, the comprehensive review takes a deep dive into the plan. It should look closely at cost-benefit analyses as well as recovery procedures to ensure everything is up-to-date with current business operations.

5. Mock recovery test, every two to three years.

This is an in-depth test in which your continuity plan is put into motion to test for any weaknesses or mishaps. Since this test is time-consuming, it shouldn't occur frequently, but it will ensure all internal stakeholders are confident in the plan.

No matter what type of business you are operating, you need to be constantly considering the possible threat of a crisis. If you want to be able to effectively manage them, then it's essential that you have a business continuity plan in place to tackle difficult or unexpected situations.

Let's go over some examples of scenarios that would require a business continuity plan that will help you understand why your business needs one.

Business Continuity Plan Examples

1. business continuity plan example for external product outage.

business continuity plan example: operational

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What is a crisis management plan? (6 steps to create one)

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A crisis management plan outlines how your business will respond if a crisis occurs. In your crisis plan, you’ll determine what crises are most likely to affect your company and what the business impact will be. Planning responses for each crisis will prepare your team and reduce the long-term damage done to your organization.

The majority of the activities will be held outdoors, so when thunderstorms suddenly hit town, you panic! You were so focused on planning the event that you didn’t consider a backup plan for bad weather. Changing things last minute will result in thousands of dollars lost. 

What’s the lesson? Being a good leader requires more than positivity and solid communication skills. Knowing how to plan for both the good times and bad builds trust with your team and shows preparedness.

Crisis management is an essential part of any business plan because without it, your team won’t be prepared when the unexpected happens. In the guide below, we’ll discuss what a crisis management plan is and how to prepare your company for uncertain times.

What is a crisis management plan?

A crisis management plan outlines how your business will react if a crisis occurs. The plan should identify who will take action and what their roles will be. The goal of a crisis management plan is to minimize damage and restore business operations as quickly as possible.

[inline illustration] What is a crisis management plan (infographic)

Your crisis management plan is a living document your team can refer to and update frequently. There are various ways to outline your plan, but a typical crisis plan looks like a checklist. When mishaps occur, your team can check off what items need to be done to respond to the crisis.

There’s no way to know what type of crisis may occur and when, but performing a risk analysis can give you a generalized idea of the potential threats your company may face. 

For example, a social media marketing company may be more at-risk for an organizational mishap that requires a public apology, while a tech company may be more at risk for a cyberattack. The industry you’re in can also help you determine potential crises and figure out how to combat them. 

6 steps to create a crisis management plan

To efficiently and effectively create a crisis management plan, break it up into smaller, more attainable steps. This can help you identify likely risks without getting overwhelmed by the potential crisis as a whole. To organize your plan, use a crisis management template with the following six steps:

[inline illustration] 6 steps to create a crisis management plan (infographic)

1. Identify your crisis leadership team

Before you can take the first step in crisis management planning, choose a team of leaders to collaborate with during the crisis planning process. Your team should include the people who will take action during a crisis. Put this team together at the very beginning of crisis management planning so everyone knows the ins and outs of your crisis strategy. 

2. Assess risk

To begin the planning process, have a brainstorming session to assess various risks your company may face. As mentioned above, you can kick off your brainstorming session by looking at risks associated with your job field. 

Use a risk register to identify and analyze the probability of risks occurring. A risk register can eliminate progress delays and prepare for potential setbacks. It can also help you visualize which risks are most likely to occur so you can plan a response for these risks. 

3. Determine the business impact

Once you’ve identified the high-probability risks that could affect your company, determine the business impact of these risks with the help of your crisis leadership team. Each risk can cause different outcomes, so it’s important to analyze them separately. Potential business impacts may include customer attrition, damaged reputation, delayed sales, lost income, or regulatory fines. 

4. Plan the response

Next, take each risk you’ve identified and determine what actions your team would need to take to respond to the threat if it does happen. For example, if you work in software and your company experiences a cyberattack, you may need someone to secure the network, someone to release the news to your customers, and another person to handle damage assessment.

5. Solidify the plan

Once you’ve verbally made sense of the threats your company may face, the business impact, and how to respond, solidify your plan. A crisis management plan is more than a written or verbal strategy. It should include key items such as an activation protocol and emergency contacts, which we’ll discuss in more detail below. You’ll also need to collaborate with key stakeholders so that everyone understands what to do and when.

6. Review and update

Once your crisis plan is complete, review the final product to ensure there are no gaps. Revisit your crisis management plan and update it at least once a year because potential risks can change with time.

What to include in a crisis management plan

Your crisis management plan should include the items below. As you create your crisis management plan, use this checklist to ensure you haven’t overlooked the important details. 

[inline illustration] What to include in a crisis management plan (infographic)

Risk analysis

A risk analysis will physically outline the potential risks your company may face and put them in order of probability. Including risk management in your emergency response plan is helpful because new leaders can refer to it if management shifts. 

Activation protocol

The activation protocol determines when action should be taken if a crisis occurs. For example, you may decide that your team members should hold off on taking action until a crisis reaches a certain level of business impact. Once that business impact occurs, it triggers the crisis management team to respond. 

Emergency contacts

Include the main emergency contact information to speed up the response process for crises that require external help. Your emergency contact list may include local law enforcement, hospital first responders, and the fire department as well as plumbing services, electricians, poison control, and any other services related to the risks you’ve identified in your analysis. 

Response procedures

While an activation protocol defines exactly when your crisis response team should respond to a crisis, the response procedures outline the action plans for each person when triggered. Use a roles and responsibilities matrix , also known as a RACI chart, to clarify the decision-making positions in your crisis response plan. For example, a RACI chart can help the response team determine who’s accountable for communicating with the public and who’s responsible for talking to employees. 

External crisis communication strategy

When a crisis occurs, your internal operations may not be the only things impacted. Once a crisis is widespread enough, you’ll need to explain the situation to key external stakeholders and the public. Your external crisis communication strategy should include details about who will deliver the information as well as who’s in charge of handling feedback. 

Post-crisis assessment

A post-crisis assessment reminds your team to follow up and assess what went well and what didn’t. You can then update your crisis plan with lessons learned to improve your response procedures and reduce business impact. 

Crisis management plan examples

Although there’s no way to predict every crisis, you can generalize types of crises into categories and make plans based on what may happen. Some crisis management examples include:

Financial loss: When your company suffers from a financial loss, you may have to announce bankruptcy or lay off employees. You can plan for this scenario without knowing the initial cause of the financial crisis. 

Technological failure: A technology mishap could leave your customers without access for an extended period of time. This type of crisis affects your reputation and your bottom line, so it’s important to prepare for this situation. 

Natural disaster: You can prepare for some natural disasters based on where you’re located. For example, if your company is in the southeastern United States, you can create a crisis plan for hurricanes that involves evacuations, customer communication, disaster recovery, and more. 

Operational changes: While it may not seem like a traditional crisis, you should have a plan in place to prepare for an unexpected major shift in leadership. Additionally, your operations process may be affected if you have to lay off a lot of employees, and the public may need to know. 

Organizational mishap: There’s always the chance that your company will be accused of misconduct or wrongdoing, and in this crisis situation, you’ll need a plan for how to respond. This crisis plan may involve issuing a public apology and figuring out how to recover.

Why do you need a crisis management plan?

A crisis management plan  prepares your organization for a disaster or unforeseen event. With a plan in place, you can lessen the impact of the crisis on your employees and your business operations. When the team is properly trained for the unexpected, there’s less chance of long-term damage. 

If you’re the leader of an organization, it’s up to you to work with other members of senior management and come up with the emergency management strategy that works for you. You may not know where to start at first, but project planning software can help you navigate this uncharted territory. 

A well-organized crisis management plan could help your company recover after a disaster occurs. 

Prepare your team with crisis management

When you have the right tools at your disposal, it’s easy to create a crisis management plan. Use project planning to structure your action plan like its own project, with team roles, an activation protocol, response procedures, and more. 

Making your crisis plan easy to understand and accessible to everyone in your company can increase preparedness and help with recovery in the event of a crisis.

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Understanding the Essentials of a Business Continuity Plan

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In the face of unforeseen disruptions, a robust business continuity plan (BCP) is essential to preserve the trust of stakeholders. If you are able to seamlessly continue operations even in the face of sudden challenges, stakeholders are reassured of the company’s resilience and commitment to their interests.

In this blog post, we offer a comprehensive guide to business continuity planning, how it can benefit organizations and share key insights into Developing and Maintaining an Effective business continuity plan.

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan (BCP) is an essential blueprint that outlines how a company will continue operating during an unplanned disruption in service. It’s more than just a reactive strategy; it’s a proactive measure to ensure that critical business functions can continue during and after a crisis. The purpose of a BCP is to provide a systematic approach to mitigate the potential impact of disruptions and maintain business operations at an acceptable predefined level.

The role of a BCP is crucial in maintaining operations during unforeseen events such as natural disasters, cyber-attacks, or any other incident that could interrupt business processes. By having a well-structured business continuity plan, organizations can:

  • Minimize downtime and ensure that essential functions remain operational
  • Protect the integrity of data and IT infrastructure
  • Maintain customer service and preserve stakeholder trust

Why is a Business Continuity Plan Important

Immediate Response : A BCP ensures that there is a predefined action plan, minimizing downtime and demonstrating control over the situation.

Transparent Communication : Keeping stakeholders informed during a crisis promotes transparency and maintains confidence in the company’s management.

Inclusive Planning : Involve stakeholders in the business continuity plan development process. Their insights can enhance the plan’s effectiveness and ensure their needs are addressed.

Consistency in Service : By prioritizing critical operations, a BCP helps maintain the quality and consistency of services or products, which is important for customer retention.

The absence of a business continuity plan can lead to a domino effect of negative outcomes, including a tarnished reputation and the potential loss of future business. Stakeholders remember how a company responds in a crisis, and a well-executed BCP can be the difference between a temporary setback and a long-term impact on the company’s image and relationships.

Elements of a Business Continuity Plan

When exploring various business continuity plan examples, certain common elements emerge as critical for their effectiveness. These elements serve as the backbone for a robust BCP plan, ensuring that businesses can maintain operations and protect their reputation during unforeseen events. Here are some of the key components found in successful BCP examples:

Risk Assessment and Business Impact Analysis : Identifying potential threats and assessing their impact on business operations is a foundational step in any BCP plan.

Crisis Communication Plan : A clear communication strategy is essential to manage stakeholder expectations and maintain trust.

Recovery Strategies : Detailed procedures for restoring business functions and services post-disruption are indispensable.

Employee Training and Awareness : Ensuring staff are well-prepared and knowledgeable about the BCP plan is crucial for its successful implementation.

Case studies of successful BCP implementations often highlight how these elements are tailored to fit specific business models and industries. For instance, a financial institution may focus heavily on data security and regulatory compliance within their BCP, while a manufacturing business might prioritize supply chain alternatives and on-site safety protocols. Regular testing and adjustment of these plans are also a common thread, underscoring the importance of adaptability and continuous improvement in business continuity planning.

Business Continuity Plan Toolkit

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Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery

It’s important to distinguish between a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan. While both are vital, a BCP is broader and focuses on the continuity of the entire business, whereas a disaster recovery plan is more technical and concentrates on the recovery of specific operations, such as IT services. Understanding these differences helps organizations allocate resources effectively and ensures comprehensive preparedness for any type of disruption. Understanding when to activate a business continuity plan (BCP) versus a disaster recovery plan is crucial for maintaining operational resilience.

To ensure a comprehensive crisis management strategy, consider the following integration points:

Pre-emptive Planning : Establish clear triggers for when each plan is activated. For instance, a BCP might be initiated in the face of a supply chain disruption, while disaster recovery would come into play during a data breach or server failure.

Unified Communication : Both plans should have a coordinated communication strategy to inform stakeholders and employees about the status and steps being taken.

Regular Testing : Conduct joint drills that test both the BCP and disaster recovery plans to identify any gaps or overlaps in procedures.

Continuous Improvement : Use insights from drills and actual incidents to refine both plans, ensuring they evolve with the changing business landscape and technological advancements.

By integrating both plans, organizations can navigate crises with agility and confidence, minimizing downtime and protecting their reputation. Tools like Creately, with features such as real-time collaboration and visual project management, can help create and maintain these critical plans, ensuring that all stakeholders are on the same page and ready to act when necessary.

Crisis Communication Strategies within Business Continuity Planning

A business continuity plan (BCP) is not just about responding to the crisis at hand, but also about how you communicate during the disruptions and the decisions you make. Here are some best practices to ensure your crisis communication and decision-making processes effective:

Clear Communication Channels : Establish predefined channels for internal and external communication. This ensures that messages are consistent and reach all stakeholders promptly.

Designated Spokespersons : Identify individuals who are authorized to speak on behalf of the company during a crisis. This helps maintain a unified voice and message.

Factual Updates : Provide regular, factual updates to keep stakeholders informed. Avoid speculation and commit to transparency.

Decision-Making Protocols : Implement decision-making protocols that are clear and allow for swift action. This includes having a chain of command and predefined criteria for making critical decisions.

Training and Simulations : Regularly train your crisis management team and conduct simulations to prepare for potential scenarios. This ensures that when a crisis does occur, your team is ready to act effectively.

By integrating these best practices into your BCP plan, you can maintain control during a crisis, make informed decisions, and communicate effectively with all parties involved. Remember, the goal is to protect your company’s operations, reputation, and stakeholder relationships during unexpected events.

Utilizing Business Continuity Plan Templates and Tools

When it comes to developing a robust business continuity plan (BCP), leveraging templates can offer a significant head start. These templates serve as a foundational framework that can be customized to align with the specific requirements of your business. Here’s why using BCP templates is advantageous:

Efficiency in Development : BCP templates provide a structured approach, ensuring that all critical elements are considered without starting from scratch. This saves valuable time and resources.

Consistency Across the Organization : Templates help maintain a uniform response strategy, which is crucial for coherent and coordinated action during a crisis.

Ease of Customization : While templates offer a general outline, they are designed to be adaptable. This means you can tailor them to reflect your business’s unique operational processes, risk profile, and recovery objectives.

Incorporating features like crisis response directions into your BCP template is essential. With Creately you can,

  • Visualize these procedures on an infinite canvas, ensuring clarity and accessibility for all team members.
  • Easily modify the plan as your business evolves, with the drag-and-drop functionality, making regular testing and adjustment a seamless process.
  • Create a central repository of information by having docs, links and attachments in the notes panel of any shape in your diagram.

Key Insights for Developing and Maintaining an Effective Business Continuity Plan

A robust business continuity plan (BCP) is not a ‘set it and forget it’ document; it requires ongoing attention and refinement. Here’s why regular testing, updates, and staff training are non-negotiables in business continuity:

Financial Protection : By regularly testing your BCP, you can identify and rectify gaps that could otherwise lead to significant financial losses during a crisis. It’s not just about having a plan, but ensuring it works effectively when you need it most.

Reputational Safeguarding : Your company’s reputation is on the line when disaster strikes. A well-rehearsed BCP means your team can respond swiftly and competently, preserving stakeholder trust and customer loyalty.

Customization for Evolving Threats : The threat landscape is constantly changing. Regular BCP reviews allow you to tailor your plan to new types of risks, ensuring your business remains resilient against the unforeseen.

Empowered Employees : Training staff on the BCP turns theory into practice. When every team member knows their role in a crisis, response times improve, and confusion is minimized.

Remember, a BCP is a living document. It thrives on the feedback loop created by regular drills and updates, ensuring that when a crisis does occur, your business is prepared not just to survive, but to continue operations with minimal disruption.

Join over thousands of organizations that use Creately to brainstorm, plan, analyze, and execute their projects successfully.

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Hansani has a background in journalism and marketing communications. She loves reading and writing about tech innovations. She enjoys writing poetry, travelling and photography.

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Crisis Management and Business Continuity Management: Why Is It Often Confused?

The Crisis management (CM) plan is often embedded into the business continuity (BC) plan or vice versa.  This is not a problem unless the execution and responsibilities are clearly delineated in the both plans.

Business Continuity Management (BCM)

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Think of BCM as the strategic process (Refer to detailed explanation on the BCM "Umbrella") and BC as the execution when a disaster occurs. The consequence of the activation of a business continuity plan is a result of a disaster.  In its simplest form, your organization is denied of its access to either/or its people, processes or infrastructure.

Crisis Management (CM)

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The key is to protect your reputation and in most crises (except for disaster which is sub-categorized as crisis), ensure the primary location is not denied access.

If your crisis management plan is not directed and executed by senior management, there is a concern that both CM and BC plans and responsibilities are heavily overlapped.

What is Crisis Management Vs Business Continuity Management?

During a crisis, your organization is expected to execute the crisis management plan and during a   disaster, the business continuity plan. The decision making process for the handling of the crisis or disaster is shouldered by the senior management team.  The execution of the necessary crisis response and should there be a denial of access to the "people, process and infrastructure, "the recovery activities in accordance with recovery strategies and business continuity plans will be executed. 

What is confusing is the overlapping of activities for the crisis response and continuity of operations.  It is good to start any discussion from the definition of a crisis and disaster.  The question to ask when the incident occur, "Is this a crisis or a disaster?"

For the readers, this is the beginning of a longer discussion as the entire concept on the differences cannot be concluded here.

Useful References

A list of the other references can be found in  BCM Planning Book Series: Implementing and Managing Your BCM Project and Program

If you would like to continue to know more about   your crisis and business management learning journey , click on the button below.

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Business continuity and disaster recovery plans are risk management strategies that businesses rely on to prepare for unexpected incidents. While the terms are closely related, there are some key differences worth considering when choosing which is right for you:

  • Business continuity plan (BCP): A BCP is a detailed plan that outlines the steps an organization will take to return to normal business functions in the event of a disaster. Where other types of plans might focus on one specific aspect of recovery and interruption prevention (such as a natural disaster or cyberattack), BCPs take a broad approach and aim to ensure an organization can face as broad a range of threats as possible.
  • Disaster recovery plan (DRP):  More detailed in nature than BCPs, disaster recovery plans consist of contingency plans for how enterprises will specifically protect their IT systems and critical data during an interruption. Alongside BCPs, DR plans help businesses protect data and IT systems from many different disaster scenarios, such as massive outages, natural disasters,  ransomware  and  malware  attacks, and many others.
  • Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR): Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) can be approached together or separately depending on business needs. Recently, more and more businesses are moving towards practicing the two disciplines together, asking executives to collaborate on BC and DR practices rather than work in isolation. This has led to combining the two terms into one, BCDR , but the essential meaning of the two practices remains unchanged.

Regardless of how you choose to approach the development of BCDR at your organization, it’s worth noting how quickly the field is growing worldwide. As the results of bad BCDR like data loss and downtime become more and more expensive, many enterprises are adding to their existing investments. Last year, companies worldwide were poised to spend USD 219 billion on cybersecurity and solutions, a 12% increase from the year before according to a recent report by the International Data Corporation (IDC) (link resides outside ibm.com).

Why are business continuity and disaster recovery plans important?

Business continuity plans (BCPs) and disaster recovery plans (DRPs) help organizations prepare for a broad range of unplanned incidents. When deployed effectively, a good DR plan can help stakeholders better understand the risks to regular business functions that a particular threat may pose. Enterprises that don’t invest in business continuity disaster recovery (BCDR) are more likely to experience data loss, downtime, financial penalties and reputational damage due to unplanned incidents.

Here are some of the benefits that businesses who invest in business continuity and disaster recovery plans can expect:

  • Shortened downtime: When a disaster shuts down normal business operations, it can cost enterprises hundreds of millions of dollars to get back up and running again. High-profile  cyberattacks  are particularly damaging, frequently attracting unwanted attention and causing investors and customers to flee to competitors who advertise shorter downtimes. Implementing a strong BCDR plan can shorten your recovery timeframe regardless of the kind of disaster you face.
  • Lower financial risk: According to  IBM’s recent Cost of Data Breach Report, the average cost of a data breach was USD 4.45 million in 2023—a 15% increase since 2020. Enterprises with strong business continuity plans have shown they can reduce those costs significantly by shortening downtimes and increasing customer and investor confidence.
  • Reduced penalties: Data breaches can result in large penalties when private customer information is leaked. Businesses that operate in the healthcare and personal finance space are at a higher risk because of the sensitivity of the data they handle. Having a strong business continuity strategy in place is imperative for businesses that operate in these sectors, helping keep the risk of heavy financial penalties relatively low.

How to build a business continuity disaster recovery plan

Business continuity disaster recovery (BCDR) planning is most effective when businesses take a separate but coordinated approach. While business continuity plans (BCPs) and disaster recovery plans (DRPs) are similar, there are important differences that make developing them separately advantageous:

  • Strong BCPs focus on tactics for keeping normal operations running before, during and immediately following a disaster. 
  • DRPs tend to be more reactive, outlining ways to respond an incident and get everything back up and running smoothly.

Before we dive into how you can build effective BCPs and DRPs, let’s look at a couple of terms that are relevant to both:

  • Recovery time objective (RTO):  RTO refers to the amount of time it takes to restore business processes after an unplanned incident. Establishing a reasonable RTO is one of the first things businesses need to do when they’re creating either a BCP or DRP. 
  • Recovery point objective (RPO):  Your business’ recovery point objective (RPO) is the amount of data it can afford to lose in a disaster and still recover. Since data protection is a core capability of many modern enterprises, some constantly copy data to a remote  data center  to ensure continuity in case of a massive breach. Others set a tolerable RPO of a few minutes (or even hours) for business data to be recovered from a backup system and know they will be able to recover from whatever was lost during that time.

How to build a business continuity plan (BCP) 

While each business will have slightly different requirements when it comes to planning for business continuity, there are four widely used steps that yield strong results regardless of size or industry.

1. Run a business impact analysis 

Business impact analysis (BIA) helps organizations better understand the various threats they face. Strong BIA includes creating robust descriptions of all potential threats and any vulnerabilities they might expose. Also, the BIA estimates the likelihood of each event so the organization can prioritize them accordingly.

2. Create potential responses

For each threat you identify in your BIA, you’ll need to develop a response for your business. Different threats require different strategies, so for each disaster you might face it’s good to create a detailed plan for how you could potentially recover.

3. Assign roles and responsibilities

The next step is to figure out what’s required of everyone on your disaster recovery team in the event of a disaster. This step must document expectations and consider how individuals will communicate during an unplanned incident. Remember, many threats shut down key communication capabilities like cellular and Wi-Fi networks, so it’s wise to have communication fallback procedures you can rely on.

4. Rehearse and revise your plan

For each threat you’ve prepared for, you’ll need to constantly practice and refine BCDR plans until they are operating smoothly. Rehearse as realistic a scenario as you can without putting anyone at actual risk so team members can build confidence and discover how they are likely to perform in the event of an interruption to business continuity.

How to build a disaster recovery plan (DRP)

Like BCPs, DRPs identify key roles and responsibilities and must be constantly tested and refined to be effective. Here is a widely used four-step process for creating DRPs.

1. Run a business impact analysis

Like your BCP, your DRP begins with a careful assessment of each threat your company could face and what its implications could be. Consider the damage each potential threat could cause and the likelihood of it interrupting your daily business operations. Additional considerations could include loss of revenue, downtime, cost of reputational repair (public relations) and loss of customers and investors due to bad press.

2. Inventory your assets

Effective DRPs require you to know exactly what your enterprise owns. Regularly perform these inventories so you can easily identify hardware, software, IT infrastructure and anything else your organization relies on for critical business functions. You can use the following labels to categorize each asset and prioritize its protection—critical, important and unimportant.

  • Critical:  Label assets critical if you depend on them for your normal business operations.
  • Important:  Give this label to anything you use at least once a day and, if disrupted, would impact your critical operations (but not shut them down entirely).
  • Unimportant:  These are the assets your business owns but uses infrequently enough to make them unessential for normal operations.

Like in your BCP, you’ll need to describe responsibilities and ensure your team members have what they need to perform them. Here are some widely used roles and responsibilities to consider:

  • Incident reporter:  Someone who maintains contact information for relevant parties and communicates with business leaders and stakeholders when disruptive events occur.
  • DRP  supervisor:  Someone who ensures team members perform the tasks they’ve been assigned during an incident. 
  • Asset manager:  Someone whose job it is to secure and protect critical assets when a disaster strikes. 

4. Rehearse your plan

Just like with your BCP, you’ll need to constantly practice and update your DRP for it to be effective. Practice regularly and update your documents according to any meaningful changes that need to be made. For example, if your company acquires a new asset after your DRP has been formed, you’ll need to incorporate it into your plan going forward or it won’t be protected when disaster strikes.

Examples of strong business continuity and disaster recovery plans

Whether you need a business continuity plan (BCP), a disaster recovery plan (DRP), or both working together or separately, it can help to look at how other businesses have put plans in place to boost their preparedness. Here are a few examples of plans that have helped businesses with both BC and DR preparation.

  • Crisis management plan:  A good crisis management plan could be part of either business continuity or disaster recovery planning. Crisis management plans are detailed documents that outline how you’ll manage a specific threat. They provide detailed instructions on how an organization will respond to a specific kind of crisis, such as a power outage, cybercrime or natural disaster; specifically, how they’ll deal with the hour-by-hour and minute-by-minute pressures while the event is unfolding. Many of the steps, roles and responsibilities required in business continuity and disaster recovery planning are relevant to good crisis management plans.
  • Communications plan:  Communications plans (or comms plans) equally apply to business continuity and disaster recovery efforts. They outline how your organization will specifically address PR concerns during an unplanned incident. To build a good comms plan, business leaders typically coordinate with communications specialists to formulate their communications plans. Some have specific plans in place for disasters that are deemed both likely and severe , so they know exactly how they’ll respond.
  • Network recovery plan:  Network recovery plans help organizations recover interruptions of network services, including internet access, cellular data, local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs). Network recovery plans are typically broad in scope since they focus on a basic and essential need—communication—and should be considered more on the side of business continuity than disaster recovery. Given the importance of many networked services to business operations, network recovery plans focus on the steps needed to restore services quickly and effectively after an interruption.
  • Data center  recovery plan: A data center recovery plan is more likely to be included in a BCP than a DRP because of its focus on data security and threats to IT infrastructure. Some common threats to data backup include overstretched personnel, cyberattacks, power outages and difficulty following compliance requirements. 
  • Virtualized recovery plan:  Like a data center plan, a virtualized recovery plan is more likely to be part of a BCP than a DRP because of a BCP’s focus on IT and data resources. Virtualized recovery plans rely on  virtual machine (VM)  instances that can swing into operation within a couple of minutes of an interruption. Virtual machines are representations/emulations of physical computers that provide critical application recovery through high availability (HA), or the ability of a system to operate continuously without failing.

Business continuity and disaster recovery solutions 

Even a minor interruption can put your business at risk. IBM has a wide range of contingency plans and disaster recovery solutions to help prepare your business to face a variety of threats including cloud backup and disaster recovery capabilities and security and resiliency services.

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What Is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP), and How Does It Work?

crisis management plan and business continuity plan

What Is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)? 

A business continuity plan (BCP) is a system of prevention and recovery from potential threats to a company. The plan ensures that personnel and assets are protected and are able to function quickly in the event of a disaster.

Key Takeaways

  • Business continuity plans (BCPs) are prevention and recovery systems for potential threats, such as natural disasters or cyber-attacks.
  • BCP is designed to protect personnel and assets and make sure they can function quickly when disaster strikes.
  • BCPs should be tested to ensure there are no weaknesses, which can be identified and corrected.

Understanding Business Continuity Plans (BCPs)

BCP involves defining any and all risks that can affect the company's operations, making it an important part of the organization's risk management strategy. Risks may include natural disasters—fire, flood, or weather-related events—and cyber-attacks . Once the risks are identified, the plan should also include:

  • Determining how those risks will affect operations
  • Implementing safeguards and procedures to mitigate the risks
  • Testing procedures to ensure they work
  • Reviewing the process to make sure that it is up to date

BCPs are an important part of any business. Threats and disruptions mean a loss of revenue and higher costs, which leads to a drop in profitability. And businesses can't rely on insurance alone because it doesn't cover all the costs and the customers who move to the competition. It is generally conceived in advance and involves input from key stakeholders and personnel.

Business impact analysis, recovery, organization, and training are all steps corporations need to follow when creating a Business Continuity Plan.

Benefits of a Business Continuity Plan

Businesses are prone to a host of disasters that vary in degree from minor to catastrophic. Business continuity planning is typically meant to help a company continue operating in the event of major disasters such as fires. BCPs are different from a disaster recovery plan, which focuses on the recovery of a company's information technology system after a crisis.

Consider a finance company based in a major city. It may put a BCP in place by taking steps including backing up its computer and client files offsite. If something were to happen to the company's corporate office, its satellite offices would still have access to important information.

An important point to note is that BCP may not be as effective if a large portion of the population is affected, as in the case of a disease outbreak. Nonetheless, BCPs can improve risk management—preventing disruptions from spreading. They can also help mitigate downtime of networks or technology, saving the company money.

How To Create a Business Continuity Plan

There are several steps many companies must follow to develop a solid BCP. They include:

  • Business Impact Analysis : Here, the business will identify functions and related resources that are time-sensitive. (More on this below.)
  • Recovery : In this portion, the business must identify and implement steps to recover critical business functions.
  • Organization : A continuity team must be created. This team will devise a plan to manage the disruption.
  • Training : The continuity team must be trained and tested. Members of the team should also complete exercises that go over the plan and strategies.

Companies may also find it useful to come up with a checklist that includes key details such as emergency contact information, a list of resources the continuity team may need, where backup data and other required information are housed or stored, and other important personnel.

Along with testing the continuity team, the company should also test the BCP itself. It should be tested several times to ensure it can be applied to many different risk scenarios . This will help identify any weaknesses in the plan which can then be corrected.

In order for a business continuity plan to be successful, all employees—even those who aren't on the continuity team—must be aware of the plan.

Business Continuity Impact Analysis

An important part of developing a BCP is a business continuity impact analysis. It identifies the effects of disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses the information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.

FEMA provides an operational and financial impact worksheet to help run a business continuity analysis. The worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers who are well acquainted with the business. These worksheets will summarize the following:

  • The impacts—both financial and operational—that stem from the loss of individual business functions and process
  • Identifying when the loss of a function or process would result in the identified business impacts

Completing the analysis can help companies identify and prioritize the processes that have the most impact on the business's financial and operational functions. The point at which they must be recovered is generally known as the “recovery time objective.”

Business Continuity Plan vs. Disaster Recovery Plan

BCPs and disaster recovery plans are similar in nature, the latter focuses on technology and information technology (IT) infrastructure. BCPs are more encompassing—focusing on the entire organization, such as customer service and supply chain. 

BCPs focus on reducing overall costs or losses, while disaster recovery plans look only at technology downtimes and related costs. Disaster recovery plans tend to involve only IT personnel—which create and manage the policy. However, BCPs tend to have more personnel trained on the potential processes. 

Why Is Business Continuity Plan (BCP) Important?

Businesses are prone to a host of disasters that vary in degree from minor to catastrophic and business continuity plans (BCPs) are an important part of any business. BCP is typically meant to help a company continue operating in the event of threats and disruptions. This could result in a loss of revenue and higher costs, which leads to a drop in profitability. And businesses can't rely on insurance alone because it doesn't cover all the costs and the customers who move to the competition.

What Should a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) Include?

Business continuity plans involve identifying any and all risks that can affect the company's operations. The plan should also determine how those risks will affect operations and implement safeguards and procedures to mitigate the risks. There should also be testing procedures to ensure these safeguards and procedures work. Finally, there should be a review process to make sure that the plan is up to date.

What Is Business Continuity Impact Analysis?

An important part of developing a BCP is a business continuity impact analysis which identifies the effects of disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses the information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.

FEMA provides an operational and financial impact worksheet to help run a business continuity analysis.

These worksheets summarize the impacts—both financial and operational—that stem from the loss of individual business functions and processes. They also identify when the loss of a function or process would result in the identified business impacts.

Business continuity plans (BCPs) are created to help speed up the recovery of an organization filling a threat or disaster. The plan puts in place mechanisms and functions to allow personnel and assets to minimize company downtime. BCPs cover all organizational risks should a disaster happen, such as flood or fire.  

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Disaster Empire

Business Continuity vs. Crisis Management

  • By Ashley Goosman

crisis management plan and business continuity plan

Let's start with Crisis Management

Crisis management is the process of responding to, planning for, and mitigating emergency events.  As a discipline, it has a planning process, distinct teams, and response structure.  It developed from the emergency management structure globally, based on the phases of disaster management. Depending on your exposure, you may be familiar with four or five aspects of disaster management.  I prefer five stages, which addresses: prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. However, in the United States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) mission statement focuses on mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery activities.

Regardless of which structure you embrace, the objective of crisis management in the private sector is business protection.  As emergency response focuses on life safety, crisis management addresses how to stop damage once an emergency happens and support business recovery.  The value of crisis teams is that they engage in response activities during an event and assist the business with a return to daily operations.  Outside of crisis events, personnel conduct planning, exercise, and mitigation actions to limit the impact of future incidents.

Man defending business continuity

The Importance of Business Continuity

Business continuity, on the other hand, is the distinct practice of planning for and helping a company’s essential functions recover from an interruption or outage.  Continuity focuses on critical aspects of business operations.  It lays out what business units need post-interruption.  It focuses on strategies for resumption after impacts on the workplace, personnel, network, or loss of a critical third-party supplier.  The plan itself documents the procedures for recovery ( ISO 22301 , clause 3.5).

In today’s marketplace, it is vital to address threats from various sources that could negatively impact a company’s reputation and resilience.  Effective business continuity plans also address the impacts of existing regulations and legal ramifications of a work stoppage. Effective business continuity plans put strategies and steps in place to help the business go back to work post-crisis. 

Man doing a balancing act

The BC vs CM Balancing Act

Now, it is true that an organization should have both elements to respond and recover from emergencies.  I am amazed at how often people confuse these areas because they each have a separate focus.  Some link these disciplines into one holistic process, so it is easy to understand when people mix them up.  Often, the overlap happens when the two subjects sit in the same group with a catch-all label like Business Continuity Management. Instead of understanding that there are different components of related work, it is natural that people lump them together.

There can be a real danger in this approach when the two disciplines are housed together without clear distinction.  If the differences are not made clear, there can be a lack of understanding about why these activities are separate.  The strategy of mixing business continuity and crisis management can lead to challenges in the workplace.  It can also lessen the effectiveness of your response and recovery activities.  Misunderstanding often happens when people you are engaging do not understand what disaster work is in the first place.  With the overuse of words like disaster, crisis, and emergencies, it is no wonder that people get lost in our jargon.  So, there needs to be a real effort on our part to help others recognize the difference.

Business experiencing a crisis

Why you need both in a good BCM program

As with other things in the field of disaster work,  it takes continued leadership to be transparent.  Most business continuity associations will argue that a successful program integrates crisis management.  They say that the organizational program needs to include business recovery, crisis management, disaster recovery, and emergency response.  

I agree with this assessment, but I am seeing communications groups labeling activities related to reputation management or public relations crisis management. Although I understand the need for brand image protection in today’s fast-paced social media world, reputation management is only a part of the crisis management process.

Instead of working together, many organizations ‘ IT, communications, security, risk, disaster recovery, and business continuity groups work in silos instead of a unified response structure.  This approach confuses leadership and impacts our ability to protect the organization as a whole.  It would be better to adopt an integrated approach that separates the disaster phases.

Woman considering the benefits business continuity and crisis management

What do you think?  How is the work organized in your company, and do you agree with the structure or not?  I want to hear from you whether your business makes a distinction between business continuity and crisis management.

If you haven’t already,  I invite you to check out my related blogs:

Top Three Crisis Events Of 2019 So Far

The Two Faces Of Disaster Recovery

Reputation Management After a Crisis Event

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Risk Publishing

Crisis Management and Business Continuity Planning

February 6, 2024

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Crisis Management and Business Continuity Planning are two critical components of organizational resilience, but they serve different purposes and focus on distinct aspects of recovery and response.

Crisis Management primarily deals with responding to and managing the immediate aftermath of a crisis to limit its impact on the organization.

It focuses on decision-making, communication, and stakeholder management during a crisis. Crisis management plans often include steps for dealing with media, customers, and other external parties, and they are designed to protect an organization’s reputation and minimize damage ( Understanding the difference between business continuity and crisis management ).

On the other hand, business Continuity Planning (BCP) is concerned with maintaining business functions or quickly resuming them in the event of a major disruption.

It includes identifying critical business processes, determining which assets and resources are needed to support those processes, and devising strategies to recover the business operations post-disruption ( Crisis Management Plan vs Business Continuity Plan ).

Integrating both plans can be beneficial as they complement each other. Crisis management can be seen as a component of a broader business continuity strategy , ensuring that an organization can continue critical operations and effectively manage the crisis from a reputational standpoint.

A comprehensive approach to organizational resilience involves having a crisis management plan and a business continuity plan that work together to handle the full spectrum of potential disruptions ( Combine business continuity and crisis management practices ).

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, the significance of robust Crisis Management and Business Continuity Planning cannot be overstated.

These strategic frameworks prepare organizations to respond swiftly and effectively to unforeseen events and ensure the preservation of critical operations, safeguarding both reputation and revenues.

To mitigate cyber-attacks, business leaders must comprehend potential risks and steer their organizations through turbulent times with a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan .

business continuity plan

As we explore the intricacies of developing a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan, one must consider the challenges and opportunities in enhancing organizational resilience.

Although complex, the journey towards achieving such resilience is necessary in today’s uncertain world, inviting further contemplation on the strategies that can be employed to fortify a business against the inevitable.

Key Takeaways

  • Crisis management and business continuity planning are strategic processes that prepare organizations for unexpected disruptions and ensure their survival and operational continuity during challenges.
  • These processes involve identifying potential threats, developing comprehensive crisis management plans, and implementing proactive strategies and business recovery plans .
  • Engaging emergency preparedness managers for risk identification , conducting comprehensive risk assessments , and recognizing and preparing for external threats and internal vulnerabilities is important.
  • Building a crisis management team, training relevant personnel, and ensuring clear and continuous communication are crucial for enhancing organizational resilience and mitigating potential downtime.

Definition of crisis management and business continuity planning

Crisis management and business continuity planning are strategic processes that prepare organizations for unexpected disruptions.

These frameworks involve identifying potential threats, enhancing communication, implementing action plans, and mitigating risk through a detailed planning process.

The aim is to streamline emergency and disaster recovery , ensuring organizations can respond effectively and maintain operations under adverse conditions.

Crisis management and business continuity planning aim to secure the organization’s resilience against unforeseen challenges.

Management involves improving communication channels within the organization, especially during a crisis. Clear and timely communication is crucial for effective crisis management.

These processes involve thorough analysis and assessment of potential threats and the development of comprehensive action plans.

Effective crisis management also involves enhancing communication channels within the organization. Clear and timely communication is crucial during a crisis, allowing for effective coordination and decision-making.

For long-term resilience, it is necessary to have strategies for recovery and restoration after a crisis, along with ongoing measures to mitigate future risks.

In addition to preparing for and responding to crises, business continuity planning also focuses on long-term resilience.

This includes strategies for recovery and restoration after a crisis and ongoing measures to mitigate future risks.

Safeguarding businesses requires proactive crisis preparation and response for resilience and longevity.

Importance of Crisis Management and Business Continuity Planning

In today’s volatile business landscape, effective crisis management and business continuity planning is necessary to ensure the survival of businesses.

Developing a comprehensive crisis management plan is essential for ensuring the survival of organizations during unforeseen disruptions.

Furthermore, these strategies play a critical role in minimizing the impact of potential risks and threats, thereby protecting stakeholders’ interests and preserving the company’s reputation.

supply chain

Ensuring the survival of businesses during times of crisis

In today’s volatile business landscape, effective crisis management and business continuity planning are essential for ensuring the survival of organizations during unforeseen disruptions.

  • Developing a comprehensive crisis management plan that addresses potential risks and potential threats.
  • Crafting robust business continuity strategies and recovery strategies within the business continuity planning process .
  • Integrating emergency services and a clear communication strategy into the business continuity management framework .

Minimizing the impact of potential risks and threats

Understanding the critical role of crisis management and business continuity planning paves the way for minimizing the impact of potential risks and threats on organizational operations .

Understanding Potential Risks and Threats

Businesses must proactively identify and prepare for potential risks in their continuity planning efforts.

This encompasses not only natural disasters but also external threats and internal vulnerabilities that could jeopardize the stability and functionality of the business.

The disaster and crisis plan should be updated regularly to reflect current business threats.

Identifying natural disasters as potential risks

Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes, represent significant potential risks that businesses must proactively identify and prepare for in their continuity planning efforts.

  • Comprehensive risk assessment to understand the impact of natural disasters .
  • Integration of emergency management strategies into business continuity planning.
  • Regular updates to the emergency management plan, reflecting the evolving nature of disaster and crisis scenarios.

Recognizing other external threats to business operations

Beyond natural disasters, businesses must also account for other external threats such as cyber-attacks, supply chain disruptions , and geopolitical tensions, which can significantly impact operations. Recognizing and preparing for these can mitigate the risk of business interruption .

These threats require strategic planning to prevent a disruptive event from becoming an unplanned, catastrophic incident.

Highlighting internal risks that may disrupt business activities

While external threats pose significant risks, internal vulnerabilities within an organization can equally disrupt business operations and undermine continuity plans.

Understanding these internal risks is crucial for effective crisis management and business continuity.

  • Inadequate emergency management structure, leading to confusion during a crisis.
  • Weaknesses in enterprise risk management , overlooking comprehensive risks.
  • Flaws in business continuity processes , increasing the business impact of a disruption event.

The Role of Business Leaders in Crisis Management

The role of business leaders is pivotal in navigating companies through crises with resilience and foresight.

Their ability to implement effective leadership and manage the execution of business continuity plans determines the organization’s capacity to withstand and recover from disruptions.

Key responsibilities include strategic decision-making, clear communication, and ensuring the alignment of recovery efforts with the company’s long-term objectives.

Effective leadership during times of crisis

In times of crisis, effective leadership from business leaders becomes crucial for navigating through challenges and ensuring organizational resilience.

  • Crisis Management Team : Business leaders must assemble and lead a crisis management team, focusing on swift decision-making and execution of response plans.
  • Communication : Clear and continuous communication is vital for effective crisis response and team coordination.
  • Business Resilience : Leadership strategies should enhance business resilience , preparing for future crises.

Key responsibilities of business leaders in implementing business continuity plans

Business leaders play a pivotal role in developing and executing business continuity plans to navigate through crises effectively. Their key responsibilities include:

  • Leading the implementation of the business continuity management program .
  • Ensuring the organization’s resilience to business disruptions.
  • Crafting effective business continuity plans .

Developing a comprehensive business continuity plan involves several critical steps. First, conducting a thorough risk assessment is important to identify potential threats and vulnerabilities to the organization.

Next, the plan should outline clear procedures for responding to emergencies, such as natural disasters, cyber-attacks, and other disruptions. Finally, the plan should be regularly tested and updated to ensure effectiveness.

Developing a Business Continuity Plan

Procedures for responding to emergencies such as natural disasters, cyber-attacks, and other disruptions should be regularly tested and updated.

First, the organization should develop several clear-cut procedures to respond to emergencies, such as natural disasters, cyber-attacks, and other disruptions. Finally, a plan should be conducted.

Understanding these steps is fundamental for businesses aiming to minimize downtime and maintain performance during unforeseen events.

Steps involved in creating a comprehensive plan

Developing a comprehensive business continuity plan involves several critical steps.

First, conducting a thorough risk assessment is important to identify potential threats to operations. This involves assessing both internal and external risks that could impact the organization.

Once the risks have been identified, the next step is to define business continuity plan objectives . This involves determining what the plan should achieve and specific desired outcomes.

Utilizing business continuity planning software can assist in organizing and documenting the plan and involving the continuity team.

Utilizing business continuity planning software can be helpful to facilitate the planning lifecycle. This software can assist in organizing and documenting the various elements of the plan. It also helps to involve the business continuity team in essential planning tasks.

After the plan has been drafted, it is important to conduct a gap analysis. This involves comparing the organization’s current preparedness to the plan’s desired state. Any gaps that are identified should be addressed and remediated.

Additionally, providing business continuity training to all relevant personnel is crucial. This ensures that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities during a disruption.

Finally, it is important to test the plan to ensure its effectiveness. This can involve running simulations or tabletop exercises to simulate different scenarios. The results of these tests should be analyzed to identify any areas for improvement.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can small businesses with limited resources effectively implement crisis management and business continuity strategies.

Despite resource constraints, small businesses can adeptly implement strategies by prioritizing essential functions, developing flexible response plans, engaging in regular training, and leveraging technology for efficient communication and operations continuity during unforeseen disruptions.

Are any psychological aspects or employee well-being considerations needed to be integrated into crisis management plans?

Yes, integrating psychological aspects and employee well-being considerations into planning is essential. Acknowledging and addressing the emotional and mental health impacts on staff can enhance resilience, foster a supportive culture, and improve crisis response effectiveness.

How Do Cultural Differences Impact the Approach and Implementation of Business Continuity Plans in Multinational Corporations?

Cultural differences significantly influence the execution of business continuity plans within multinational corporations , necessitating tailored approaches that respect and integrate diverse cultural norms, values, and communication styles to ensure effective and inclusive operational resilience.

Can You Provide Examples of Businesses That Failed in Crisis Management and What Lessons Can Be Learned From Their Mistakes?

Businesses that have faltered in crisis management include Blockbuster and Kodak, primarily due to their inability to adapt to digital transformation.

Lessons learned emphasize the importance of agility and foresight in navigating market evolutions.

What Are the Legal Implications and Responsibilities of Businesses in Ensuring the Safety and Continuity of Operations During a Crisis?

Businesses are legally obligated to protect employees and ensure operational continuity during crises. Failing to meet these responsibilities can result in legal repercussions, financial loss, and damaged reputation, underscoring the importance of preparedness and compliance.

compliance, risk culture

Crisis management and business continuity planning are essential to organizational resilience, ensuring preparedness for unforeseen disasters and disruptions.

Business leaders can develop comprehensive strategies that mitigate risks , facilitate a swift recovery, and minimize damage.

This proactive approach is vital for maintaining operations, protecting stakeholders, and securing the organization’s long-term viability.

Integrating these plans into corporate policy highlights the importance of being adaptable and resilient in today’s rapidly changing business environment .

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Chris Ekai is a Risk Management expert with over 10 years of experience in the field. He has a Master’s(MSc) degree in Risk Management from University of Portsmouth and is a CPA and Finance professional. He currently works as a Content Manager at Risk Publishing, writing about Enterprise Risk Management, Business Continuity Management and Project Management.

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Finance Alliance

Crisis Management Plan vs Business Continuity Plan

Sabrinthia Donnelly

Sabrinthia Donnelly

Believe it or not, a crisis management plan is not the same as a business continuity plan. The two are similar in many ways, sure, but they have key differences that set them apart.

When disaster strikes and steers the business off course, it can lead to chaos, and in extreme cases, send the business into bankruptcy.

The good news is that you can help the business avoid such a catastrophic fate by creating and implementing both a business continuity plan and a robust crisis management plan. And, even better , you can build them in such a way that they work effectively together to help prepare the business and guide it through any crisis.

So, if you want to know the main differences between a crisis management plan vs business continuity plan, keep reading!

In this article, we cover:

What is a crisis?

What is a crisis management plan, what is a business continuity plan.

  • Crisis management plan vs business continuity plan: key differences

Before we can compare the differences between a crisis management plan vs a business continuity plan, let’s define what we mean by ‘crisis.’

A crisis in the context of business is an event that disrupts the business’s facilities such as data, personnel, IT systems, etc. This can then cause production to cease, which stops the business from running as it should.

The impact of a major crisis on a business can have a knock-on effect and negatively impact areas including production schedules, the business's reputation, customer advocacy, revenue, and so on.

Here are some examples of potential crises that could impact a business:

  • Accidental disasters (power cuts, fires, gas leaks, etc.)
  • Natural disasters (storms, hurricanes, floods, etc.)
  • Technological disasters (corrupt software, faulty hardware, harmful cyber-attacks, etc.)
  • Vandalism or theft
  • Fuel shortages
  • Loss of a staff member or a staff member being ill and unable to work
  • Disease or widespread infection (COVID-19 is a prime example of this)
  • Terrorist attack (local or abroad)
  • Human error
  • Privacy policy issues
  • Supply chain issues
  • An industry strike
  • Data protection issues
  • Collapse of infrastructure
  • Abandonment in leadership

crisis management plan and business continuity plan

A crisis management plan (CMP) is a response plan to a crisis that would negatively impact the business’s ability to operate or damage its reputation or profitability.

Businesses must be prepared to face different crises appropriately and crisis management plans act as guides to help navigate critical situations and avoid further catastrophes. The plan should include a set of steps to help the business handle the crisis.

So, just how important is a crisis management plan?

Well, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% of businesses never reopen following a disaster. One of the main reasons why is that those businesses probably didn’t use crisis management plans to deal with unexpected events.

To give your business the best possible chance of survival, you need a well-thought-out crisis management plan with specific steps to handle such an event.

A business continuity plan (BCP) outlines how a business will continue to operate should an unplanned occurrence take place. It’s a comprehensive document that acts as a prevention and recovery system for potential threats or disruptions such as cyber-attacks or natural disasters.

The best BCPs are those that have been tested numerous times to make sure there are no gaps or weaknesses. And, if some weaknesses are identified during the testing process, those must be corrected. This is to ensure personnel and assets are fully protected in the event of a crisis.

The main goal of a BCP is to provide the business with thorough strategies and information required to maintain operations throughout and following a disaster.

crisis management plan and business continuity plan

Crisis management plan vs business continuity plan: Key differences

Whilst crisis management plans and business continuity plans share similarities, some key differences set them apart.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most important variances between the two:

Purpose of a crisis management plan vs business continuity plan

The number one difference that sets both plans apart is their overall purpose within the business.

Crisis management plan – a detailed plan that outlines the specific steps the business must take during a crisis.

Business continuity plan – a prevention and recovery system for potential cyber-attacks or disasters such as hurricanes, floods, etc.

Benefits of a crisis management plan vs business continuity plan

Crisis management plan benefits:

  • Provides a clear series of steps to approach emergencies with confidence.
  • Safeguards the business’s reputation and industry standing.
  • Reduces the impact of a crisis at the workplace.
  • Improves the well-being of your employees.
  • Protects the business from legal exposure.
  • Provides sufficient communication during a crisis.

Business continuity plan benefits:

  • Safeguards the business’s ability to ensure operations can continue to run during a disruption.
  • Recovers operations efficiently following disruptions.
  • Reduces costs and the duration of the impact of a disruption on the business.
  • Mitigates risks and upholds the business’s reputation.
  • Helps you comply with legal requirements.
  • Potentially saves lives during a major crisis.

crisis management plan and business continuity plan

Characteristics of a crisis management plan vs business continuity plan

Here are a few key characteristics of a crisis management plan to be aware of:

  • The plan must be made in the presence of all executives. And, everyone in the crisis management team should have a say in the plan and its steps.
  • It should identify problem areas and suggest solutions to help the business come out of a crisis as quickly as possible.
  • The plan should focus on saving the business’s reputation and overall standing.

A finalized CMP should include:

  • An outline of the purpose and goals of the plan.
  • A potential evacuation plan should the need arise.
  • A crisis response strategy.
  • Important contact information such as staff members, vendors, and law enforcement.
  • Media management.
  • Integration with other emergency plans the business has created.

And here are some important characteristics of an effective business continuity plan:

  • High availability to ensure the business has access to essential applications in the event of a local failure, such as issues with the software.
  • The BCP should focus on how the business can remain in operation during a disruption.
  • It also needs to include a disaster recovery plan should the primary site be inoperable or destroyed.

A business continuity plan must include:

  • An analysis of critical functions within the business.
  • A list of potential risks in order of priority (for example, through risk tolerances and risk appetite).
  • Strategies and/or mitigation activities to protect vital components identified in the early stages of the BCP.
  • Evidence that the BCP strategies have been properly tested.

crisis management plan and business continuity plan

Written by:

Sabrinthia is the Senior Copywriter at Finance Alliance and host of the Two Cents podcast. She's always happy to connect with new people in finance, so if you want to get involved, please reach out!

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COMMENTS

  1. PDF Crisis management and business continuity guide

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  2. Business continuity and crisis management

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    Scope: Crisis management typically deals with the immediate and short-term response to a crisis, while business continuity planning takes a more holistic view of an organization's long-term resilience and its ability to maintain essential operations under various disruptions. Objectives: Crisis management aims to minimize the damage caused by a ...

  4. Creating a Successful Crisis Management Plan

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  6. Combine business continuity and crisis management practices

    This is a principle that applies to business continuity and crisis management, as well. Stabilize operations, figure out where you are and then communicate with others, Schulz said. Have a plan and think through possible scenarios. An actual crisis might require some changes to that plan, but the plan provides a solid starting point.

  7. Enhanced response and recovery

    Crisis & Resilience, and Enterprise and Integrated Risk Leader. Principal. [email protected]. +1 212 492-4461. Explore the latest crisis management strategies and how to create a crisis management and business continuity plan with our contingency planning services.

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    BCM is defined as a holistic management process for identifying potential impacts from threats, and for developing response plans. The objective, ultimately, is to minimize the impact of disruptions by increasing the speed of recovery. Crisis Management is the overall coordination of an organization's response to a crisis, with the goal of ...

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  11. Business continuity: PwC

    PwC brings depth and experience to support your response to an enterprise-wide crisis. Our PwC crisis management teams have developed tools and processes to help you survive an unexpected event and emerge stronger. We take a holistic view of your organisation's business continuity needs. And as your trusted advisor, we'll help you build ...

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    One responsibility that business continuity management teams have is planning for disaster recovery. Disaster recovery is a component of the business continuity plan that specifically focuses on product issues. In addition to that, business continuity management also includes crisis management, contingency planning, and emergency management.

  13. What is a Crisis Management Plan? (6 Steps) [2023] • Asana

    To organize your plan, use a crisis management template with the following six steps: 1. Identify your crisis leadership team. Before you can take the first step in crisis management planning, choose a team of leaders to collaborate with during the crisis planning process. Your team should include the people who will take action during a crisis ...

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    Answer: While a Crisis Management Plan typically deals more with managing an emergency from the onset to recovery, a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) ensures that business continues to function, preferably uninterrupted, when an issue arises that threatens to derail normal operations. A company's BCP should take into account each business units ...

  15. Understanding the Essentials of a Business Continuity Plan

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  16. crisis management plan (CMP)

    crisis management plan (CMP): A crisis management plan (CMP) is a document that outlines the processes a firm will use to respond to a critical situation that would negatively affect an organization's profitability, reputation or ability to operate. CMPs are used by business continuity teams, emergency management teams, crisis management teams ...

  17. Crisis Management and Business Continuity Management: Why Is It Often

    What is Crisis Management Vs Business Continuity Management? During a crisis, your organization is expected to execute the crisis management plan and during a disaster, the business continuity plan. The decision making process for the handling of the crisis or disaster is shouldered by the senior management team.

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    Many of the steps, roles and responsibilities required in business continuity and disaster recovery planning are relevant to good crisis management plans. Communications plan: Communications plans (or comms plans) equally apply to business continuity and disaster recovery efforts. They outline how your organization will specifically address PR ...

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  20. Business Continuity vs. Crisis Management

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  22. Crisis Management: Creating a Business Continuity Plan for COVID-19

    Speaking at a recent webinar on managing a business through the COVID-19 crisis, Monteith notes that fewer than 30 percent of Fortune 2000 companies have invested in putting a full business continuity plan in place. "The time to undertake developing a business continuity management plan is before a critical event strikes.". Ray Monteith.

  23. Crisis Management Plan vs Business Continuity Plan

    The number one difference that sets both plans apart is their overall purpose within the business. Crisis management plan - a detailed plan that outlines the specific steps the business must take during a crisis. Business continuity plan - a prevention and recovery system for potential cyber-attacks or disasters such as hurricanes, floods, etc.

  24. Business Continuity Planning in 4 Steps

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