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  • Writer's pictureCrisis Shield

How to Manage a Crisis Tip #014: What are the key elements of a Business Continuity Plan?

By Elaine Doyle

Crisis Shield Key Elements of a Business Continuity Plan

Melbourne is currently in a heavy investment and building phase. Major works include the Metro tunnel, rail crossing upgrades and the Tullamarine widening. Melbourne skyscape continues to change and grow. There is a huge long term benefit from this investment however Melbournians are grappling with unprecedented impacts travelling to and from work that creates disruption to our lives and to businesses in the interim.

If your business is adjacent to these works or your staff are being impacted during this construction phase, can you still operate to full capacity and are your customers being impacted? Would your customers decide to use your business if there was no parking available?

Can you operate effectively when staff are late or can’t get to work at all?

How long would it take for a major disruption to affect your business? Would you lose customers? Would they return? Could it affect your employees?

When Sydney began work on their new light-rail project, businesses and properties from Circular Quay in the central city through to Randwick and Kensington in the south-east were disrupted. One affected cafe’s revenue was almost halved because it was hidden by construction safety barriers.

This is only a small cafe but imagine if the organisation was a large hotel chain or university. Could you relocate staff and customers if you lost access to a building?

Without planning and testing your response is likely to be slow, painful and reactive with negative impacts on your customers, staff and bottom-line.

What if you had planned and tested your capability in advance and knew exactly what to do in the event of a disruption? Think…proactive not reactive, think minimal disruption, think business viability!

Business Continuity Planning is the assessment of a threat(s) to your business and creation of a strategy or strategies to ensure staff, customers and assets are protected and able to continue to function in the event of a disruption or disaster.

A Business Continuity Plan is your strategy on a page that you and your staff will use if a disruption occurs.

A business continuity plan is a simple to use, readily available and widely known document that anyone in your organisation can pick up and use.

What are the 4 Key elements of a Business Continuity Plan?

People. Place. Processes. Phones & Technology.


Safety of your people and customers is paramount

  • Identify:

  • ​key roles in your business (i.e. payroll, IT, call centre, third-party/supplier relationships, a business continuity manager, communications)

  • Do:

  • these roles have back up staff to continue the work essential to keep your business running?

  • Can:

  • you communicate effectively with staff when they’re travelling or working remotely?

  • You communicate effectively with customers and suppliers?

  • Are:

  • all contact details kept up to date? (ensure in-case of emergency details are available and current)

  • Don’t:

  • rely on technology alone

  • key staff should keep paper copies of contact information at work and home


  • Understand:

  • what are the critical processes that your business must do in order to sustain baseline operation and the number of staff or IT or other assets needed to ensure they continue?

  • Can:

  • those processes be done somewhere else? By your staff or by others? Have you tried?

  • critical processes be done in a different way than normal?

  • What:

  • processes do you rely on others to perform for you?

  • Can:

  • they still operate for you? Can you work at their offices?

  • What:

  • are the non-essential processes that could be relinquished in a disruption?

  • How:

  • long can you operate like this?


Road/building works, floods, fires, accidents and many other events can prevent your business from being accessible by staff, customers and suppliers.

  • How:

  • will your staff work if they are unable to access your office, your building or the precinct where your offices are located?

  • Can:

  • staff operate from another location in the short term (e.g. remotely from home or from another site near your building)?

  • How:

  • will the business be kept up to date on the progress of any external influences (e.g. capital infrastructure works)?

  • Can:

  • the business operate for a longer term from an alternative site?

  • Consider:

  • business continuity specialists such as Interactive who can provide facilities for the temporary relocation of critical business teams and data.

Phones & Technology

  • Can:

  • your operations work without IT or phones?

  • Can:

  • you operate in different ways?

  • Have:

  • you tested your remote capability AND capacity? Does your organisation have the bandwidth to allow all critical processes/staff to work remotely?

  • Can:

  • you recover lost data easily (is your data stored offsite, in the cloud, regularly backed up etc.)?

  • Have:

  • you tested (bandwidth, user permissions, internet speeds etc.)?

  • Have:

  • you got a good relationship with your IT team and IT providers?

Crisis Shield now has a business continuity specialist working in-house, Fraser McLisky. If you need advice in developing or enhancing your Business Continuity Plan or procedures, contact Fraser for a free initial assessment and consultation:


Phone: +61 3 9602 4310

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