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Can you create a BC plan without conducting a risk assessment?

If time constraints and other factors force you to eliminate risk assessment from your business continuity plan, discover how to focus your development efforts more precisely.

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.

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