A Business Continuity Plan Template for Success

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Many elements drive successful enterprises, from visionary leadership to effective recruiting to innovation-driven initiatives. But without business continuity, those vital strategies may be wasted.

No matter what type of industry you might be in—or whether you have a lean entrepreneurial startup versus a major, multi-location corporation—a business continuity plan template is essential for creating a framework that guides all parts of the organization.

Although each business will have unique needs, there are a number of key aspects to business continuity, and those should be part of any plan. Here are three top elements to consider for your template:

1. Application Delivery Networking

Many organizations think of their networks in terms of data storage and information-routing, but their real role goes beyond moving packets from one digital location to another. A network should be able to deliver applications like Oracle, Microsoft Office, and SAP in a way that's seamless and highly productive.

Without proper application delivery networking in a business continuity plan template, a company might find itself with lackluster end-user experience, slow performance, and limited mobility options. As those challenges grow, continuity can sputter and become a larger issue—especially if it leads to downtime or disruption.

2. Recovery Time Objectives

Any event that causes a slowdown or work stoppage can set off a chain of events that affects every aspect of continuity. Having disaster recovery resources in place is essential, particularly because those services can be used to design, blueprint, and implement a better business continuity plan.

As part of that template, you should have an understanding of recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives. Of course, you want to get all applications and IT services back up and running as quickly as possible, but some will need to get online before others in order to assure uninterrupted operations. Knowing which resources are the highest priority, and setting recovery timeframes for those, will go a long way toward higher business continuity.

3. Regular Risk Assessments

A continuity plan that doesn't change is almost not worth having. After all, your business changes, so why wouldn't your continuity template? Every company will go through shifts in staffing, technology, applications, and leadership—that means risk assessments should be part of every plan, in order to deal with new challenges and potential threats.

Putting security controls and actions into your organization is part of continuity, but without insights into today's risks, you might have a security problem in the near future. Risk assessment should be performed on four key elements: people, process, plan, and technology. Rather than trying to prepare for every conceivable scenario from hurricanes to meteor strikes, you should focus on those four aspects of your organization and how they affect critical business functions.

In general, a business continuity plan template should be specific to your organization, bringing together your particular recovery objectives and information assets so that you can have a clearer understanding of what's needed for non-disrupted operations. But focusing on larger issues like application delivery, disaster recovery, and risk assessment will be helpful for creating a template that works best for you and your business.

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