Experts Discuss the Importance and Advantages of Business Continuity Plans

Smartsheet Contributor Andy Marker

August 25, 2020 (updated October 14, 2021)

Experts make the case for developing a business continuity plan so that disruptions don’t negatively affect your operations, when they inevitably arise. 

Included on this page, you’ll learn the importance and benefits of business continuity planning (BCP) , and how a strong plan helps staff in a crisis . Plus, find a PowerPoint business continuity argument template to help make the case for embracing business continuity in your company.

What Is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan (BCP) is part of a business continuity management system (BCMS), and includes the procedures an organization must follow in an emergency. The document also contains steps for recovery in the days and months after the incident.

One part of a BCP is the disaster recovery plan , which contains plans for IT and technical continuity. An organization can follow specific steps to write its business continuity plan, or hire an outside consultant. For details on writing a BCP, read "How to Write a Business Continuity Plan” ,

Importance of a Business Continuity Plan

A strong business continuity plan can reduce risks during a crisis, and helps ensure that the company can continue to provide goods or services and earn income by detailing how to respond during and after an incident. 

An often-quoted statistic claims that 40 percent of businesses never recover from a disaster . Although some experts question the statistic’s sources, it stands to reason that recovering from a major disruption is tough. After all, staying in business can be difficult, even during the best of times.

Alex Fullick

As business continuity consultant Alex Fullick, General Manager at Stone Road , explains, "I think the global pandemic has proven that everybody and every organization, no matter what size, needs the ability to respond and recover from any sort of eventuality, whether large or small. If anyone still has the mindset that it's going to happen to someone else, they're probably going to go out of business."

As natural disasters and data breaches become more frequent, the question is not if, but when a disruptive event will take place.

Business continuity plans can help an organization address the following issues before disruption occurs:

Business continuity can also provide a competitive edge. As the following examples show, companies that pursue business continuity are first to get back to work after a disaster.

"I find myself a little frustrated with some planners who have said, ‘Oh, they're busy updating their pandemic plan now,’" Fullick adds. "What do you mean you're updating your plan on people's availability? Don't you already have plans in place for, let's say, the winter flu season when you're missing 20 percent of your staff because they're all at home with the flu?"

How Business Continuity Helps Different Departments

Importance of business continuity for the supply chain .

Supply chain disruptions can be crippling, and a BCP can help sustain inventory levels. A business impact analysis (BIA) can reveal risks to key vendors’ ability to make and deliver goods in a crisis, so you can plan ahead. 

Toyota plants in North America demonstrate how a broken supply chain shut down production thousands of miles away. After the 2011 Fukushima earthquake in Japan, Japanese parts manufacturers went offline. When Toyota plants in southern Ontario couldn’t get parts for the assembly line, the company had to lay off many employees. 

"Companies are starting to realize they can be impacted, [and] not just directly by an upstream supplier that sends them something. That supplier can be impacted, too, and the effect trickles down,” Fullick explains. “[As] you see in the news, companies are starting to think more locally, rather than internationally. Companies have more control over a supplier or a vendor who is local, in the same state or province or country, than [they do] over a supplier in another country."

Ask how your suppliers will respond to a disruption to determine if they have a business continuity plan. Then, work that information into your BCP.

Importance of Business Continuity to Small Business

Small business owners often think they are exempt from crises — but when large-scale events occur, they can be among the first casualties. Almost a quarter of companies that do reopen fail within a year; having a BCP is essential to recovery.

"Unfortunately, some people think it won't happen to us ," says Fullick. "That carefree attitude is no longer tenable, especially after a pandemic that affected everyone."

Tony Bombacino

For Tony Bombacino, business continuity is a daily practice. He is the co-founder and President of Real Food Blends , a private company that makes whole foods for people with feeding tubes. “I'm always thinking to myself, 'What am I not thinking about?'” he says. “I spend a lot of time thinking about what might happen, and how to be ready for it.”

Bombacino also believes that business continuity preparedness starts outside of the business continuity plan. "It starts up front with contract negotiation” he says. “Cash is king in a small business.”

Real Food Blends doesn’t produce or pack their products, so it’s important that his manufacturing partners are large, stable, and have their own well-defined business continuity plans. If his partners aren’t prepared for handling disruption, his business might not be able to survive.

Importance of Business Continuity to IT

Most companies rely on IT to maintain services like the internet and Voice over IP (VoIP). The team also stores documents and runs machines. Without IT, a business is unworkable. Therefore, a business continuity plan for IT is crucial.

Importance of Business Continuity Planning in Crisis Management

Crisis management is part of a business continuity plan. Business continuity provides the overall approach for protecting human and other resources, and ensures that vital processes keep running. Crisis management focuses on communications and decision-making.

The Importance of Governance in Business Continuity Management

Effective governance is key to sustaining business continuity efforts. Governance starts with the business continuity policy, and the support of leadership ensures the plan always covers new risks.

However, not everyone thinks that governance always addresses all the correct questions. "Traditionally, governance tends to focus on how many scenarios your plan covers," explains Fullick. "It covers a flood, it covers fire, it covers an earthquake, a tornado, and a hurricane. You need a different plan for each one. Five plans. Each department has five plans, but do they contain the right detail?”

The Importance of Business Continuity to HR and People

Crises do not only impact tools and buildings — they also affect human well-being. If you understand how disasters change lives, you can better help staff manage their emotional and physical tolls. 

key benefits of business continuity planning

"We bring our whole selves to work," says Debbie Rosemont, a productivity consultant and Certified Professional Organizer at Simply Placed , a business consulting firm. "I don't take my emotions, or what happened to me before I came to work, and set that outside. Who I am and how I feel shapes my ability to work and produce. When businesses or companies think about continuity plans, they've got to consider the whole person and how an event or disruption might impact somebody, even if it happens outside of work."

Disruptions can prevent people from coming to work. Illness, like a flu outbreak, may keep them at home. Damaged roads and train systems (that can occur after an earthquake) can hinder their commute. Whether employees commute to the office or work remotely, some of the following concerns may distract them from their duties:

Michele Barry

"When there are job losses, when people don't know when they're going to get their next gig,  when some people have lost numerous family members, this is extreme grief," says Michele Barry , Principal Consultant at Fortis Consulting. "You need your cloud system as your recovery system. You need an evacuation plan. You need to get all your files back after a crisis, which could motivate staff and sustain the business. But understanding people and politics is essential, too."

Rosemont suggests that doing business continuity planning in "normal times" is a chance for employers to source support systems. Employees can use these resources daily and during a crisis. Examples of resources include the following:

Mike Semel

A further consideration, especially in natural disasters, is that it may be easier to restore the business than to gather your workforce. “It's easier to recover technology than it is to have the people there to use it,” explains Mike Semel, President and Chief Compliance Officer at Semel Consulting . “With the cloud and online backups, you can just go to somebody else's computer and log into Microsoft and get to your email. Your bigger problem will be people, and you need to focus on making sure your people don't disappear on you.” 

In disasters, people may leave town. If you can keep people safe, but local, you may be able to recover your business faster. As an example, he shares how his company guided a credit union to contract with a local hotel chain. The executives would move their families to safety and only then return to work. This same consideration applies to small businesses. “If you're a doctor's office, you know that the doctor needs to be there,” says Semel. “The receptionist needs to be there. The nurse needs to be there.”

How Business Continuity Helps

Business continuity business case template.

Business Continuity Business Case Template

Top leadership might wonder why they should invest time and money in business continuity planning. Use this free downloadable business case template to build a convincing argument for business continuity. These customizable slides include suggested argument points that you can adapt to fit your company’s needs. 

Download Business Continuity Business Case Template — PowerPoint

For most useful free, downloadable business continuity plan (BCP) templates please read our  "Free Business Continuity Plan Templates"  article.

​​​​​​​Benefits of Having a Business Continuity Plan

The benefit of a business continuity plan is that it prepares a company for a crisis. Trained staff will know what to do and the organization will be able to safely continue delivering key products and services, while meeting its legal and other commitments.

The following are additional advantages of business continuity:

What Is Business Continuity Management (BCM)?

Business continuity management is the process a company uses to identify risks and, from there, to avoid or reduce the impact of those risks. Ultimately, this makes a company more resilient in a crisis.  

Disruptive events can impact information systems, business processes, or both. For example, a hurricane or an earthquake can cut electricity. Without power to run data centers or laptops, business processes such as supply replenishment and payroll are impossible. 

As StoneRoad’s Fullick explains, "Business continuity management is a set of plans and procedures to help you prepare for, respond to, and recover from business interruptions. Beyond that, it empowers people to make decisions when things occur. It's about knowing what resources and skills are available when something happens, whether it’s a small incident or a global pandemic." 

With BCM, companies review their needs and capabilities to create contingency plans. From there, they can deliver at least some of their regular output, or the minimum acceptable service, in the event of a crisis. Continuity of service preserves a corporation’s reputation and revenue.

Benefits of Business Continuity Management System (BCMS)

A BCMS keeps staff safe and protects assets from risk. With human, IT, and other resources, a company can continue to provide goods and services. As a result, the company will continue to create revenue and retain a solid reputation.

You can learn about the types of risks and threats to organizations, as well as regulatory requirements for business continuity planning in our article, “ Business Continuity Planning: How to Do It Well .”

"I don't think as many business people consider business continuity like they should,” says Bombacino. “I feel more prepared here, at my company, than I did when I worked at big companies. I think that’s because when big companies get really big or successful, or have lots of money, they think nothing bad can happen to them. One boss used to say there's a difference between being successful because of something and being successful in spite of something. Many companies are successful and don't have a business continuity plan. But what one thing could happen and wipe them out because they're not ready?”

Fullick adds that the value of business continuity will become increasingly clear to companies in the near future. “I think business continuity will grow as a key component for a lot of organizations, and [that] leadership on all levels is going to focus on BCP now.”

Disadvantages of Business Continuity Plans

Business continuity plans are costly and time-consuming to execute. Plans often require outside advice, and poorly written plans (or those that leadership doesn’t support) can be unsafe and cause financial losses. 

A plan also risks becoming a ticked box on a requirements list, rather than an actionable, practical document. Management can forget to share the plan with the teams who could benefit from it. "Often when people aren't a part of discussions, the crisis management team is activated, but everyone else, including leadership, is sitting around and thinking, ‘What's going on?’” explains Fullick. “Management and employees are each waiting for the other to act. But people should know what to do and just start doing it."

 Plan writers also often worry too much about specific disaster scenarios. "You need to focus on people, places, and things, and not so much on the trigger," Fullick urges. "You could lose your building because of a pandemic, or a flood, a fire, or an earthquake. Those are all different triggers for the same problem: What do we do now that our building is gone? Continuity planning should be about building a skillset, so your employees and leadership — beyond the disaster recovery team — know exactly what to do, and what the resources are, no matter what is happening." 

In essence, business continuity planning empowers people and adds value to the company. Real Food Blends’ Bombacino says, “Some entrepreneurs hate meetings and process and structure. They don't want to talk about business continuity planning. But for us, this is our life's work. Other families, our customers, depend on us. So we view business continuity planning not as just a smart thing to do, but as our responsibility to make sure that we avoid the continuity pitfalls out there."

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key benefits of business continuity planning

The benefits of a Business Continuity Plan

The key to a successful, long-term business is not only to ability to serve your market and retain customers, but also the ability to withstand the unexpected that could knock your success off-course.

While COVID-19 is at the forefront of our minds these days, it is worth considering that this is one of many events that have had impacts on business over the past few months. Cyber attacks, pandemics, flooding, fires and multiple storms highlight the need for planning for the unknown and the requirement to keep business operations active during times of stress.

The use of a business continuity plan or BCP, provides companies with a roadmap and processes that support the company and its strategy in times of the unexpected. An effective plan enables any organisation to react quickly and efficiently in the event of unpredictable events. The goal is to keep essential services up and running and in the event of an incident to provide for recovery in the shortest possible timeframe.

The benefits of a BCP include supporting the organisation’s strategy, creating a strategic advantage compared to your competitors, demonstrating to stakeholders such as investors and customers that you are taking their needs seriously and addressing operational vulnerabilities.

The framework that supports BCP is a Business Continuity Management System or BCMS. The de-facto standard for BCMS is ISO-22301. This lays out the requirements for a standardised management system, and highlights ten clauses to assist in developing a plan. The key considerations when developing a BCMS include:

Then there are the practical elements of the plan that should be agreed prior to any incident occurring. You should keep up to date contact details of all key stake holders. You should schedule for plan reviewing, testing and updating. Testing should be done regularly, from walk through, table top exercises and full emergency exercises to see how team members and execs react under stress.

Plans can look great on paper but until they are firstly fully tested in an exercise environment and lessons are learned and applied they may not operate as expected in an incident. There should be easily accessible check-lists in-situ – both in soft and hard-copy –that outline what is to be done, by who, by when, how that will be achieved and where the activity is to take place. As such understand and agree the guidelines for how and when to activate the plan

If an organisation prepares a plan in advance of an incident occurring, be it a pandemic, an act of nature or a cyber attack, then the organisation stands a better chance of emerging from the incident with its operations intact.

How to keep business continuity in a crisis However, if an organisation doesn’t have a BCP, then there’s no need to panic. You can still implement the most important phase of a BCP - this is the response phase, and for many the least effectively planned phase of a BCP.

The response phase comprises of the following 6 key steps:

If an organisation takes these steps into consideration during an incident or crisis it can formulate a recovery plan that will assist it with keeping itself in a viable situation during the incident and also recovering to hopefully pre-incident state after the incident is over.

Authors: Neil Redmond, Senior Manager and Mark Gallagher, Manager, Risk Advisory

Colm McDonnell

Partner | risk advisory.

[email protected]

+353 1 417 2348

Colm is a partner in our Risk Advisory practice specialising in security risk, regulatory and control assurance and consulting assignments. Colm has been an Authorised Officer for the Central Bank of ... More


key benefits of business continuity planning

key benefits of business continuity planning

Don’t underestimate the importance of a business continuity plan

Here’s how to protect your people, practices, and technology.

Jacob Shepard

Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Enterprise

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When disruption is unacceptable, business continuity is critical. Threats such as cyberattacks and natural phenomena can strike without warning, and business continuity is all about maintaining (or quickly resuming) business functions across all business lines – from HR and IT to marketing and sales – when the unexpected comes to pass. A comprehensive business continuity plan should be embedded as part of your organizational strategy; without it, you run a high risk of negatively impacting your productivity, reputation, revenue, and more. However, it is key to recognize that there’s more nuance to business continuity than you might think – read on for a brief overview and a deeper dive into this critical strategy.

Preparing for a crisis

Based on findings from a recent survey, PWC recommends three ways companies can better prepare for a crisis. – Design a strategic crisis response plan to mobilize swiftly, stabilize business operations and respond effectively to the shockwaves of disruption. – Break down silos – creating an integrated program is key to delivering a successful crisis response and to building resilience during everyday practices. – Prioritize and build organizational resilience into the fabric of your organization.

Business continuity is more than just disaster recovery

When people think of business continuity, they typically think of disaster recovery and traditional IT service outages. While IT infrastructure and operations are important components, you also need to ensure that your business continuity plan encompasses your people and practices. Many incidents outside of your technology can create the need for a business continuity plan, including lack of access to physical workspace, reputational crisis, or loss of key company individuals. To be able to appropriately respond to a wide range of issues, organizations should be set up in a way that enables its people to make impactful decisions without being hindered by bureaucracy – not to mention having strong practices in place.

key benefits of business continuity planning

Case in point

We can look to the COVID-19 pandemic as a recent example of the urgent need for a comprehensive business continuity plan. Throughout the pandemic, business continuity planning has been critical – and it had nothing to do with the traditional IT outage. Organizations had to act quickly in order to continue business as usual and deliver the quality service their customers had come to expect. Disruption (in one form or another) was inevitable as teams scrambled to shift their approach to work and maintain the status quo. As teams continue to adapt in these unprecedented times, remote work has risen drastically, requiring businesses to implement new practices, rely more on agile methodologies, and assess their tooling to get work done. Click below to learn IT best practices that Atlassian implemented for a remote workforce

But what about my technology?

Atlassian Cloud Enterprise: What it is & why we made it

Atlassian Cloud Enterprise: What it is & why we made it

While it’s key to recognize and protect your organization from the variety of factors that could lead to disruption and crisis, the topic of technology – outages, downtime, and loss of data – seems to occupy the majority of our mental real estate. Your tools are critical to your success, and failure to access them and the data they store can spell crisis. Choosing software that can safeguard your company is a no-brainer.

Atlassian cloud products remove a large piece of responsibility, and headache, from your business continuity plan. Leveraging Atlassian cloud opens up the time and freedom for your organization to focus on other practices and organizational needs. Atlassian cloud maintains the highest standards of reliability, with a guaranteed 99.95 percent uptime SLA and built-in business continuity and disaster recovery frameworks.

For organizations that need to maintain control via a self-managed environment, Disaster recovery for Data Center products ensures availability in the event that your primary instance becomes unavailable.

Other benefits of Atlassian cloud products and the virtualization of your software help mitigate future possible disruptions. When you don’t have to worry about physical infrastructure, that’s one less treason to panic over the possibility of physical destruction (think fire, flood, or earthquake) or the inability to get to a physical location for service (whether that’s due to damaged infrastructure or a pandemic).

We know that by choosing Atlassian products, you’re counting on us to assist in your business continuity plan holistically. Organizations run mission-critical projects and operations on Atlassian products, and we’re utterly devoted to delivering products, applications, and networks that are stable and secure at scale.

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  1. Business Continuity Plan Advantages

    The benefit of a business continuity plan is that it prepares a company for a crisis. Trained staff will know what to do and the organization will be able to safely continue delivering key products and services, while meeting its legal and other commitments. The following are additional advantages of business continuity:

  2. Benefits of Business Continuity Plan

    The benefits of a BCP include supporting the organisation’s strategy, creating a strategic advantage compared to your competitors, demonstrating to stakeholders such as investors and customers that you are taking their needs seriously and addressing operational vulnerabilities.

  3. Don’t underestimate the importance of a business continuity plan

    While IT infrastructure and operations are important components, you also need to ensure that your business continuity plan encompasses your people and practices. Many incidents outside of your technology can create the need for a business continuity plan, including lack of access to physical workspace, reputational crisis, or loss of key ...

  4. The Importance of Having a Business Continuity Plan

    It ensures personnel and assets are protected and able to function in the event of a disaster, and is generally part of overall risk management ' that is, best practice dictates that you consider your business continuity plan ahead of time, not when a crisis hits.