Business Continuity Planning Basics – A Primer For Your Business

Plan Cover Sheet

The Plan Cover Sheet will not only identify your company, but also offer pertinent information that can be evaluated at a glance. See the sample attached.–and-planning—what-all-of-it-method-for-organisations

Company Address:

The address should reflect the location for which this particular plan is designed. Other company locations and their information will be indexed in other material within the plan.

Site Director:

The Site Director should be the main decision maker of the company. They would be someone who at a moment’s notice would be able to decide if the employees should shelter in place, go home or wait for further information.

Alternate Site Director(s):

The Alternate Site Director would be the person or persons who would be the second in command and would also be able to make the same decisions as the Site Director in the event the Site Director was unavailable. You can also assign a third or fourth person in this section. It’s best if the person is on site most of the time and does not travel extensively.

Plan Date:

Each time you revise the plan, it is helpful to put the revision number on the front of the plan. You will change out some material such as the employee telephone list which does not warrant changing the plan date on the front cover. It is generally helpful to place a date on the bottom footer for material that will change on a regular basis.

Business Continuity Plan
For ABC Company

The ABC Company
123 Address Street
Pittsburgh, PA. 15222



Site Director

John Mayall

Alternate Site Director:

Alice Joseph


Emergency Response Team

Your Emergency Response Team is generally comprised of your Critical Department Managers as well as your facility managers. If you have a number of locations, each location should have a Site Director and an Emergency Response Team.

Everyone on the Emergency Response Team will report to the Site Director in the event of an emergency. The Site Directors of each location will each report to the main location Site Director or the President/Owner of the company.

When choosing your Emergency Response Team be certain to choose people who will “step up to the plate” in the event of an emergency. Often times in a critical disaster, it is human nature to want to leave to take care of family members. Each team member, should have a back up person in the event of vacations, absence, injury, etc.

o Determine who talks with the fire chief and other officials.
o Determine who can authorize emergency work
o Determine who will disseminate information about your company to the media

Examples of Emergency Response Team members:

Office Manager Responsible for communicating to all employees, vendors, suppliers, floor wardens, etc.

Facility Manager Responsible for shut off valves, electrical/power outages, emergency generators, etc.

IT Manager Responsible for all computer actions, backups, recovery, etc.

Communications It will be critical for your emergency response team members to communicate with each other during an emergency. You may want to either use cell phones or other two-way communications.


Develop a checklist of responsibilities

This will be one of the most important steps you will take. In the event of an emergency, many people will begin to panic and need immediate direction. Planning out a checklist of steps to take prior to the emergency will guide everyone through the disaster at hand and calm everyone down. It is imperative that after these checklists are developed and you perform “table-top exercises” (see Table of Contents) to practice for a real disaster.

The attached sample (three stage response checklist) along with the instructions for the Site Manager, Resource Manager and Facilities Manager, will give you an idea of exactly what steps one hypothetical company has worked out in the event of a disaster. This company is a business that produces medical equipment with a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week production line. There are 100 employees who work in the industrial side and 30 office staff. Their home office is in another state. They are located in an industrial park with a river on one side of their building and train tracks on the other side.

Once you have developed this checklist continue to build the rest of this plan. As you do this, you will find that you need to come back to the checklist to add line items or adjust what you have already written. The “table-top exercise” will also help you to develop the checklist even more.

A Sample

Three Stage Response List

Warning Phase:

1. Checking all appropriate functions and supplies
2. Meet with Site Manager to discuss possible impact
3. Brief employees on possible impending disaster and what will be expected of them.
4. Insure you have all necessary documents in the event of an evacuation.
5. Monitor possible emergency through your channels – TV, radio, local authorities

Emergency Response Phase:

1. Meet with Site Manager and Management Team to discuss course of action.
2. Receive direction from Site Manager on next step
3. Meet with employees to brief them.
4. Monitor progress in your specific department

Recovery Phase:

1. Restoration of Services
2. Pursuing insurance coverage, claims and procedures
3. Making repairs and returning to worksite
4. Preparing and restoring all necessary equipment

Identify Your Hazards

Disaster Probabilities

Power Outage 91%

Hardware Error 77%

Fire 58%

Flood 53%

Earthquake 53%

Hurricane 52%

Software Error 43%

Bombing 39%

Storms 38%

Network Failure 23%

Burst Pipe 9%

Riot 3%

Source: Disaster Recovery Journal – 2005

Hazards most likely to occur:

Hazard Preparation Do

Power Outages
o Check for emergency lighting in your facility,
o Have a few flashlights handy that are charged on a regular basis (with battery backup),
o If a storm is approaching turn off all computers,
o Equip your electrical outlets with power surge protectors,
o Check into emergency generators.

Winter Storm (snowstorm, ice storm, etc.)
o Tune into local weather stations,
o Have an emergency radio on hand,
o Refer to police and emergency management phone numbers

o Check fire extinguishers,
o Be certain employees know how to use them,
o Conduct drills on a regular basis,
o Practice safety procedures for incidents in the event of a fire

Tornado / Windstorm
o Practice evacuation procedures,
o Be certain to have a safe place to go in the event of a tornado,
o Have emergency supplies on hand in the event you have to shelter in place or make emergency repairs or rescues.

Hazardous Materials
o If you have hazardous materials in your facility, you should list them all and report your list to local authorities in the event they need to battle a fire
o Check the materials regularly to be certain they are not leaking and your inventory is correct

Bomb Threats
o Be certain the staff who answers your telephones are familiar with the bomb threat checklist
o After a bomb threat immediately isolate the person who took the call and have them write down exactly what happened on the call

Flood / leaks
o Make periodic checks of hot water tanks, boilers, dishwasher hoses, washing machine hoses, sink connections, toilet tank equipment, etc.
o If files are stored in an area that is prone to flooding, move them to higher floors or on platforms.
o If you are in a flood zone, be certain to tune in to emergency radio stations for updates.


Make lists

Lists will be the most important tool you will need in the event of an emergency or major disaster.

In addition to your Emergency Response Team, you will need to have several lists on hand to utilize during your preparation, emergency and the business recovery phase.

The following pages will give you a good start to what lists you will need to have. Feel free to insert or upload your own forms and/or lists.

Several of these lists will have to be maintained and updated on a regular basis. An example of this would be the employee telephone tree, supply list and computer equipment lists.

In addition to these lists, we have inserted a list of materials that should be stored in the homes of several employees. This material list should be thought out well in advance and then checked by several participating employees to be certain everything is included.

This material list that will be stored in employee’s homes should be everything you will need to operate your business if you are unable to enter your offices or in the event of a major power outage.

Employee Telephone Tree

It is imperative to keep this list up to date and to do monthly tests of this list and to make comments in the “Response” column regarding the call. For Example: Spoke to employee, did not reach, wrong number, etc.


Name Phone Alternate Phone Response

George Mellon #

George calls:

Sally Field Didn’t answer

Nora Ephron Responded

Sally Hays Responded

Ron Mischner #

Ron calls:

Dave Miller Wife took message

Denny Miller Responded

In addition to the employee list, you may want to keep a list of any temporary employees phone numbers and/or their temp agency phone numbers

Emergency Phone Numbers

You should have on hand a list of emergency phone numbers that would include the following:

In the event of an emergency, call _______

If this number does not answer or is slow to respond, call the following numbers:

Police Non-emergency Number

Fire Non-emergency Number

City Emergency Number

County Emergency Operations

Local Emergency Numbers

Poison Center

Hazmat Team

Municipal Phone Number

Disaster Recovery Vendor

Insurance Information

All necessary insurance information should be listed and kept in this disaster plan book as well as in the emergency container stored in selected locations.

It is also imperative that copies of your insurance policy be kept in duplicate in the home boxes or in a safe deposit box.

We also strongly suggest that you take photographs of the following:

o Office equipment
o Carpeting
o Desks, file cabinets, chairs, bookcases, etc.
o Computers
o Valuable paintings
o Supply cabinet
o Computer rooms and server areas
o Electrical and telephone rooms
o Any special equipment, supplies, artwork that would be valuable and unique

Critical Equipment and Materials
Utilize this list in conjunction with the insurance forms to determine what to photograph and what warranties you may need to copy and keep in a safe place.


Equipment/Room Location Access Required
Yes/no Preventive Action Required
Emergency Generator
Emergency Command Center
Emergency Supplies
Hazardous Materials Storage
Phone System Equipment
Satellite Equipment Room
Computer Center
Elevator Control Room
Fax Machines

Date: __________________________ Updated: ____________________________

By: ___________________________

Building Utility and Equipment Shut Offs

This is a form that should be completed and then reviewed by several people in the department that handles this equipment as well as employees who might work in the evening on a regular basis and the entire Emergency Response Team.

You may review this form and realize that some of this equipment is not relative to your place of business because it is maintained by building management. We suggest that you contact your building manager or building maintenance staff and let them know you would be interested in viewing the equipment in the event of a disaster and also for insurance purposes.


Building/Address Utility Shut Off Location

Fire Suppression
o Sprinkler
o Dry-Chemical
o Other
Sump Pumps
Other ________________________________________

Fire Detection / Alarm Checklist

Check with your local fire department or fire extinguisher supplier regarding fire extinguisher training. Fire extinguishers are good for putting out small fires and many employees if properly trained would be comfortable utilizing them.

We also suggest that you invite the fire department into your building to be certain everything is up to code in your building. Many building owners are hesitant to do this fearing fines or shut downs, however many fire departments welcome coming in before a fire starts to give advice and to be familiar with the tenants of a building.

While going through your checklist, walk around your office or building to

o Check areas that might need a fire extinguisher such as computer rooms, copier rooms, kitchens, etc.

o Check that employees are using extension cords and other electrical conveniences properly. Check to be certain that electrical outlets are not overloaded and avoid using plug in air fresheners as they sometimes explode and cause fires.

o Check to be certain fire doors are closed at all times and signage is properly placed on them so that employees know to keep them closed at all times.

o Check stairwells and emergency exits to be certain they are clear of debris trash and that no emergency exit is chained shut. Also check to be certain exits that lead out into the street are not blocked by cars or debris.

Computer and Information Management

Your IT person is the best person to complete this form. They would know what information your company would need and what type additional equipment you might need to bring the company back up and running after the disaster.

We highly recommend that you find a company that can provide you with an off-site back up system for your computer information.

It is feasible to back up your files on a regular basis and have them stored off-site at either an employee’s home or at another company location.

List in order of importance

Serial #
Security Level
Own/Lease Service Agr./ Vendor Warranty Expiration Manager
In Charge

Date: __________________________ Updated: ____________________________

By: ___________________________

Key Service Vendors

In the event of an impending disaster or during the disaster, you will need to contact kep vendors that will need to help you immediately. The following list will serve as a guideline, but you may want to add others depending on your type of business.

Specialized Training / Skills Bank

You may want to survey your employees to determine who has skills that would help you in the event of an emergency. You will have to make certain these employees understand that if they are on this list, they will be called upon to assist in the event of a disaster.

It is recommended that you have them sign some sort of release or agreement stating they will assist, but are not liable in the event of a major disaster or medical event.

Some employees may be former military personnel, emergency response personnel, nurses, or have previous training in CPR or first aid.


Decide where you will go if you need to evacuate your building immediately.

If you need to evacuate your building because of a fire or other emergency, decide where you will meet and how you will account for all your employees.

Floor Wardens

Do you have floor wardens in your building or among your office staff? If not, ask for volunteers to help evacuate your floor and make certain everyone has safely evacuated. You should then conduct evacuation drills for your employees on a regular basis even though your building management doesn’t.

Floor Warden responsibilities would include:

o Safely evacuating everyone who works on your floor.
o Checking to be certain your offices, restrooms, conference rooms, etc. are clear.
o Closing all doors behind them, especially in the event of a fire. Closing the doors will prevent the fire from spreading to adjacent offices.
o Accounting for everyone once you have safely evacuated.

First Aid

Do you have first aid kits handy? Do all employees know how to access the first aid kit? Are there any employees who have first aid training?

Meeting Place

Your meeting place should be a safe distance away from your building. Consider following:

o Meeting in an adjacent building in the event of inclement weather Keeping a safe distance from any emergency vehicles that may need access
o Accounting for all employees – you may want to have an employee listing close to your exits to assure you have that handy.
o Accessing your disaster plan book. If you don’t have it handy to take with you in an emergency, someone can store it in their car or you can store it in an adjacent building with an employer who will safeguard it for you.
o A safe distance is usually 300 feet away from the danger.
o Shelter In Place – you may need to stay in your building and not evacuate.

Shelter In Place

One of the instructions you may be given in an emergency where hazardous materials may have been released into the atmosphere is to shelter-in-place. This is a precaution aimed to keep you safe while remaining indoors. Shelter-in-place means selecting a small, interior room, with no or few windows, and taking refuge there. It does not mean sealing off your entire home or office building.
Situations where you may need to shelter-in-place would include: Chemical, biological, or radiological contaminants may be released accidentally or intentionally into the environment. Should this occur, information will be provided by local authorities on television and radio stations on how to protect you and your family. Because information will most likely be provided on television and radio, it is important to keep a TV or radio on, even during the workday. The important thing is for you to follow instructions of local authorities and know what to do if they advise you to shelter-in-place.
Some Guidelines:
o Close the business.

o If there are customers, clients, or visitors in the building, provide for their safety by asking them to stay – not leave. When authorities provide directions to shelter-in-place, they want everyone to take those steps now, where they are, and not drive or walk outdoors.

o Unless there is an imminent threat, ask employees, customers, clients, and visitors to call their emergency contact to let them know where they are and that they are safe.

o Turn on call-forwarding or alternative telephone answering systems or services. If the business has voice mail or an automated attendant, change the recording to indicate that the business is closed, and that staff and visitors are remaining in the building until authorities advise it is safe to leave.

o Close and lock all windows, exterior doors, and any other openings to the outside.

o If you are told there is danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds, or curtains.

o Have employees familiar with your building’s mechanical systems turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems. Some systems automatically provide for exchange of inside air with outside air – these systems, in particular, need to be turned off, sealed, or disabled.

o Gather essential disaster supplies, such as nonperishable food, bottled water, battery-powered radios, first aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, duct tape, plastic sheeting, and plastic garbage bags.

o Select interior room(s) above the ground floor, with the fewest windows or vents. The room(s) should have adequate space for everyone to be able to sit in. Avoid overcrowding by selecting several rooms if necessary. Large storage closets, utility rooms, pantries, copy and conference rooms without exterior windows will work well. Avoid selecting a room with mechanical equipment like ventilation blowers or pipes, because this equipment may not be able to be sealed from the outdoors.

o It is ideal to have a hard-wired telephone in the room(s) you select. Call emergency contacts and have the phone available if you need to report a life-threatening condition. Cellular telephone equipment may be overwhelmed or damaged during an emergency.

o Use duct tape and plastic sheeting (heavier than food wrap) to seal all cracks around the door(s) and any vents into the room.

o Bring everyone into the room(s). Shut and lock the door(s).

o Write down the names of everyone in the room, and call your business’ designated emergency contact to report who is in the room with you, and their affiliation with your business (employee, visitor, client, customer.)

o Keep listening to the radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate. Local officials may call for evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk in your community.

PHASE SEVEN (optional)

Office Safety Team

Many companies safeguard their employees by training several employees to act as a safety team. This team of employees would be trained in basic first aid, triage, search and rescue and how to administer CPR.

Employees would agree to take classes and workshops and to serve as floor wardens in the event of a disaster. Depending on the number of employees you have, you may want to decide on a ratio of how many safety members you have in relation to the number of employees. Company management will need to decide on whether or not this is a plan that you want to undertake.

Emergency Backpacks

Once your office safety team is developed, it is suggested that you issue them emergency backpacks. Some companies sell them already made up and packaged, but you can make your own and stock them with the following suggested items:

Safety helmet
Safety goggles
Safety mask
Duct tape
Medication for wounds
Medical tape
Floor plan
Emergency numbers
Emergency food


Make a checklist of items you will need to continue operating the business after the disaster.

Here are a few suggested items you will need to have in a separate location that will help you operate until you are able to re-enter your building/business. You may have a branch office close by where you can store these items. If not, you may want to either secure a safety deposit box or store items in someone’s home.

Computer System:

If your computer system is at your current location and you do not have a back up system, now is the time to determine how you will retrieve your data: back up disks taken out of the building by your IT personnel, servers backed up at another location, is there another location that will have your data, etc.


If your company is unable to re-open immediately, are you able to access your website to update it to reflect your condition and when you will re-open? If not, discuss this with your webmaster.

Phone System:

What happens if your building is destroyed by a fire or you are unable to access your offices – how will you let your customers and employees know what is going on?

Suggestions: Obtain an emergency number off site that can be programmed to advise customers and employees what to do and who to call for services. Check with your phone company regarding what would happen in the event of an emergency and how you can access your phone system if you cannot access your building or office. If your building is destroyed, is the entire phone system lost?

Hot or Cold Site:

A hot site is a location that is already arranged to have your business up and running in a very short time. Depending on the type of business you have, you may need office space, computers and phones immediately. You must arrange for this service prior to a disaster as you will work with them to determine how many computers and other office equipment you will need. You generally will pay a monthly fee to the company to have this site services available. A Cold Site refers to a location where the space is leased without any office equipment provided. One word of caution is to ask how they determine who gets the space in the event of a regional disaster, as many companies operate on a “first come, first served” basis. If this is the case, you may not have use of the hot site in a regional disaster.


After the Disaster

Once your emergency is over, you will need to continue business operations and attempt to return to normal as soon as possible. Now is the time to decide your options on achieving this.

Some of the forms suggested in Step Eight follow this page, but in addition to that you must also consider the following:

Emergency Expense Records form for keeping track manually of what is being spent after the emergency.
Purchase Orders. If you do business with companies that require a purchase order, have arrangements already set up.
Rental cars. If your cars are parked in your building and you need to move your employees quickly, you may want to pre-arrange with a rental car company. This will require that you meet with them and give them all your pertinent information so they have it on file.

Written agreements with companies that in the event of a disaster, you will have a grace period for billing or deliveries.