A business continuity plan documents the steps you need to take after an emergency to get your business up and running as soon as possible. The quicker you can do this, the faster you can get cash flowing back into the business to fund wages and other overheads.

Refer to your risk management plan to identify what's important to keep your business running and offering its primary services. This will give you a strong indication of what you should focus on to get your business operational again. If you don't have a risk management plan, spend time reviewing the managing risk section.

Using the Business continuity plan - template (PDF 23.52 KB)PDF icon, work through the following steps:

Step 1: What to do

Identify what actions are required to get your business operational again. According to the publication, Good Security, Good Business, prepared by the Commonwealth Government (2008), these could be:

  • repair or replace damaged equipment and infrastructure
  • relocate the business to an alternate location, or identify new sites to conduct visitor activities
  • temporarily contract operations
  • multi-skill staff
  • upload computer systems with backed up data
  • organise a range of services for staff, such as counselling and taking time off
  • communicate with employees, customers and suppliers

Step 2: Work out who is responsible for each action

For each action you've identified, decide who in your business will be responsible for carrying out the task.

Step 3: Decide what other resources are needed

Spend time to think about what other options you have available. Organising your responses now will help you act fast in an emergency.

This might involve:

  • Developing relationships with more than one business or supplier, so that if one is affected by an incident your business can continue as usual
  • Having backup processes in place for key business documents and information. Consider keeping copies of invoices, customer records, bank account details and insurance policies that are vital to your business
  • Locating important information, such as listed above, at a second site updating it regularly
  • Planning for disruptions to electricity, gas, water, sewerage and telecommunications systems. Are backup systems available? Are there alternatives that can be used?
  • Preparing for broken machinery, damaged equipment and computer systems. Know who can fix them and have their contact details at hand.
  • Thinking about having another site you could operate your business from.

Step 4: When to action each response

In relation to the risks you've identified, think about when you would undertake each response in an emergency.

Step 5: Prioritise

Give each action a priority. Is it a high priority, a medium, or low priority. Categorising your actions will help prioritise your response in an emergency situation.

Handy tools