Sample Business Contingency Plan

State what needs to be done within the first hour, day and week of the plan being implemented.

This could be as simple as, "Inform employees of the situation immediately." But you may need far more detailed timelines for certain situations, such as data breaches, serious workplace injuries, or leaks of hazardous materials.

Or you may choose not to formally plan for some lower-priority risks at all, but to manage them if they do happen.

A good contingency plan can prevent your business from "going under" when unexpected events occur, so it's vital to ensure that it's fit for purpose.

Here are the key elements to include: Refer to your risk assessment and impact/probability charts and choose the most damaging or most likely scenarios that you want to plan for.

Then, map out what should happen in each case (see Examples 1 and 2, below).Aim to include a broad range of scenarios – for instance, cyber attacks, prolonged staff absences, IT malfunctions, loss of suppliers, serious power outages, or structural problems with your business premises.Specify what, exactly, will cause you to put your contingency plan into action.(Our article, Risk Analysis and Risk Management, covers this process in more detail.) Chances are, you'll end up with a long list of potential threats.It may be unrealistic to attempt contingency planning for all of them, so you need to prioritize.Our article, Communicating in a Crisis, explores how to plan and deliver effective communication in difficult situations.Also, make sure that you are aware of your legal obligations, and that incidents are reported to the relevant authorities where necessary.The first step is to identify your business-critical operations.These are the key processes and functions without which your organization could not operate – for example, your supply chain, your internet connection, or your ability to comply with legal standards.This reveals which risks require the expense and effort of risk mitigation.Business processes that are essential to your organization's survival, such as maintaining cash flow and market share, are typically at the top of the list. But in some cases it may be safer or more cost-effective to tackle it in other ways: to avoid the risk, by investing in new equipment, for example; or to share the risk, by purchasing an insurance policy.

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