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Every article, consultant and standard written for business continuity advocates the completion of a business impact analysis and risk assessment before a business continuity plan is developed. These steps provide valuable data about your organization and the risks it faces -- critical information needed to craft a BC plan or disaster recovery plan.
In reality, it's not always possible to conduct a BIA or RA due to time constraints. These activities can also take a chunk out of your BC budget -- if one exists -- and many employee work hours during discovery activities. Sometimes, for whatever reason, senior management may just want a BC plan and nothing else. For any of these reasons, an organization may skip a BIA or RA and jump right to developing its business continuity plan.
Many of my consulting projects are for a BC plan only. In time, the client may decide to pursue other complementary activities -- risk assessments, business impact analyses and training programs -- so it's always a good idea to provide a roadmap of subsequent BC/DR-related activities.
While it's not a best practice, you could prepare a BC plan without any preliminary discovery and analysis of the organization by asking people in key roles the following questions:
- What are the most important business activities performed by the company?
- What would happen if those activities could not be performed?
- What technologies and other resources are needed to support those activities?
- What staffing is required to perform the activities?
- What physical components, such as office space, will be needed?
- Are there any internal or external dependencies that may impact the firm's ability to recover?
- What events have disrupted operations over the past few years?
The above questions can act as a "compressed" BIA and RA, and the answers can help you to focus your development efforts more precisely.
The next step would be to select a plan development process that is quick, comprehensive and affordable. There are a number of free templates available from SearchDisasterRecovery. Rothstein Associates also offers a good selection of reading material to help organizations with their planning.
How to create a BC plan without management buy-in
A guide to the growing market of disaster recovery as a service
How to conduct a DR test without a large budget