Business continuity planning prepares a business to react to dangerous or adverse conditions. Businesses may develop plans that cover natural disasters such as earthquakes, manmade disasters such as fires or general infrastructure problems such as power outages. The plans spell out the steps the business and its employees will take in various disaster scenarios. By preparing in advance for as many contingencies as possible, businesses seek to meet the objectives of a business continuity plan efficiently and effectively.
Business continuity plans aim to reduce or eliminate disruptions to normal business operations. Strategies for minimizing disruptions include training staff on specific tasks each person will undertake in a given scenario. Some plans may specify alternative ways of keeping in contact for situations where normal communications by phone or email no longer work. Plans also seek to protect vendors, partners and customers from disruptions. If a business produces components of another business's supply chain, the plan may include methods of expediting production and delivery of needed items.
A business continuity plan will include steps the business can take to prevent or eliminate damage to the business's reputation. Meeting established obligations in spite of calamities help present a business in a favorable light. If a business has some customers whose value to the business is particularly high, the plan may set forth a means of protecting that particular set of customers. The goal in each case is to protect the business's share of the market and, in turn, avoid financial losses.
Because some business disruptions can be manmade, such as terrorist attacks, a business continuity plan may focus on keeping employees, the business and the business's finances safe. Plans may address not only physical safety but financial viability. Government regulations may require businesses to include specific measures in a plan that will protect the nation's capital market, especially for businesses in the financial sector, such as banks. The regulations enable businesses to help minimize potential adverse effects of a wide-scale disruption on the U.S. financial infrastructure markets. At the same time, the measures promote the security of the business’s individual finances.