Business Continuity Plan Templates and the BCI 2012 Horizon Scan

The idea of a business continuity plan template is intuitively seductive: you take a “one size fits all” document, tick the boxes that apply to you and then “turn the handle” to generate your BC plan. There are certainly common principles, risks and factors across businesses and organisations in general; but the latest survey findings from the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) suggest that it’s now even more important to avoid overly generic or encyclopaedic templates. If you’re going to use a template, start off with the approach that’s right for your business. Read on to find out why.

One of the key findings from the BCI “Horizon Scan 2012” survey is that there is considerable variation in opinions about threats to BC according to geographical location and business sector. Business continuity plan templates cannot help but be affected. Whereas native English-speaking countries such as America, Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom appeared to share (on a country-wide basis) a common viewpoint, respondents from Japan and India had significantly different opinions. Comparing the top three threats as seen from the UK (outages in IT and telecoms, data theft or loss, and hacker attacks) with those seen in India (transport network failure, social unrest, and fire) proves the point.

Likewise, supply chain problems, IT and telecoms failures, and then product safety problems were top of the list of the manufacturing sector, compared to data breaches, IT and telecoms breakdown, and then hacker attacks for other business sectors. It seems unlikely that a generic business continuity plan template will allow for the way these factors are prioritised differently. Are there specific BCP templates tailored to the place and activity of your organisation? Maybe not – in which case, if you decide to use a template in your planning process, having information like the BCI survey to hand might be a good idea.