Business Resumption Planning,
Step by Step
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The following step by step guide is based on information from the
booklet: Business Resumption Planning, A guide, published
by Emergency Preparedness Canada
- List the major functions or activities of your
business or organization. For larger
organizations list the functions and activities of each
unit, department, division branch, etc.
- Determine which activities are "time
critical" business functions. Time critical
business functions are services and activities whose
continued operation is considered essential by
management. Non performance would significantly impair
the successful functioning of the business.
Consider the following as they apply:
- What functions would have to be done immediately after
a business interruption? What could be postponed?
- What are your external requirements on a day-to-day
basis? What do you need from outside your business in
order to continue to function?
- What are your immediate internal requirements? Where do
they come from?
- How long can your essential business functions be
-Are there regulator requirements or penalties that must
be considered if you cannot fulfil your obligations due
to unplanned business interruption?
-What is the financial impact of non-performance of a
business function? How significant is the impact? Is it
-What are the costs to respond vs.the short-term loss of
-Are other organizations dependant on functions that your
business performs? What are your external outputs?
-What legal or contractual liabilities would arise if the
activities were curtailed or shut down?
-What would be the public relations implications of a
curtailment of your activities or a shut down of your
-Would the safety or security of personnel and property
be jeopardized if your operations were interrupted?
-Which of your essential operations are dependent on
computer support? (WAN, LAN, Stand-alone) Are there
alternative manual operating procedures in place with
people who know how to use them? How long could these
operations be performed without computer support?
-Are there provisions for overtime for staff and for
additional or replacement staffing?
-List important clients and contacts internal and
-Identify essential operating information for vital
business functions and prepare a checklist of essential
records. Maintain copies of essential records off-site
-Determine what essential office equipment is required.
Specify any special computer hardware, software,
databases, networks or other technology.
-Identify your work in progress. Determine the work flow
and business impact if the identified information and
work in progress were destroyed and could not be
-Identify any work in progress for your business that is
being done outside your facility.
- Assign a priority to each of the "time
critical" activities you have identified.
e.g. assign a numeric scale of 1 to 5 to show the length
of time an activity can remain disrupted.
less than one day Priority 1
2 -4 days Priority 2
5-7 days Priority 3
8-10 days Priority 4
more than 10 days Priority 5
- Develop a planning objective for each activity. A
planning objective states your goal for resuming each
activity, specified to a level of service within a
-To staff essential or designated positions at
an alternate site within 4 hours of the business
-To have alternate information processing arrangements
that will meet essential computer requirements within 48
-To be capable of answering 50% of incoming calls within
one hour and 100% of calls within 4 hours of disruption.
- Determine the minimum needs for initial response.
The ability to communicate with your employees,
suppliers, customers, etc. is the key aspect to an
effective initial response.Plan this aspect first. Then:
-List essential information sources (operating
instructions, manuals, databases) and alternate sources
for this information.
-list essential equipment needs (telephones, computers,
etc.) and sources of alternative equipment. Have support
services been considered?
- Obtain senior management approval of the
essential functions, priorities and planning objectives
you have identified.This important step gives
senior management an outline of the plan being developed
and an opportunity to confirm any of the previous risk
management decisions as senior management may not be
aware of the implication and liabilities they face if
there is a prolonged business interruption.
- Delegate planning assignments to the staff who
carry out the essential activities on a day-to-day basis.
the people who perform a job on a regular basis
are the best qualified to work on a business resumption
plan that will allow them to resume essential activities
following an unplanned business interruption.
- Write the detailed portion of the plan.
Focus on the impact of the business interruption, not the
cause. Each part of your organization must deal with what
must be done to recover the essential activities if staff
are incapacitated, information lost, facilities or assets
destroyed or rendered inaccessible. Each section of the
plan should stand alone.
The plan for each part of your business and the final
plan for the business as a whole should incorporate the
cost of implementation in terms of personnel and
Your plan should also cover staffing requirements such as
replacement personnel, extraordinary staff expenses and
health and safety factors.
- Consolidate all sections of the plan into a
business resumption plan for your entire business.
The plans for each division, department, etc. should be
assembled to form the business resumption plan for your
business as a whole. The restricted and confidential
portions of the plan should be protected.
- Communicate the plan to employees. All
employees should be aware that a plan, authorized by
senior management,exists. It should be explained, if
necessary, in a series of information sessions, to the
key employees that will be involved in implementing the
plan after a business interruption.
- Store and keep copies of the plan in a secure off-site
location away from your main office so it will not be
impacted by the same event that disrupted your business
- Test the plan.Conduct a test of the plan
in a realistic fashion and with ample warning to all
employees that the plan is being tested.If you don't test
the plan you risk not having it work in a real emergency
situation. The plan can be tested in stages, or levels
ranging from the "table-top exercise" to a full
scale simulation of a post-disaster situation.
- Review business resumption plan on a regular
basis. Update it to reflect changes in
activities, procedures, performance, etc.
For more information we offer the following resources:
Check List to help
you decide if your business resumption plan is adequate.
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