One of the questions that I ask delegates on the Business Continuity Management courses that I give is “What should the maximum size of a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) be, in terms of the number of pages?” The whole point of asking the question is to get the delegates to discuss the issues of plans not being used or maintained because they are too large and contain too much information. At a course I gave in London recently, one of the delegates stated that each of her company’s plans were on a single sheet of paper (printed on both sides). In response to a general sense of disbelief, she opened up her handbag and drew out an example, which was neatly folded down to the size of a cigarette packet!
We had just been covering what should be in a BCP, so we went back to the checklist to see if her single sheet plan contained all the things on the list, and it did. Everyone was very impressed and asked for copies so that they could go back after the course and try to achieve the same feat with their own plans. I was no exception.
I can now report that I have managed to get Merrycon’s BCP down to a single sheet of paper, and what’s more, it’s on a single side. This BCP really does contain all the information that it required to respond to an incident that might cause disruption to Merrycon, and I was quite surprised at how easy it was to take the existing 27 pages and reduce them down to one.
There are two secrets about how to do this. The first is to make sure that the recovery team is well trained in how to use the plan, which means that all the explanatory text that is found in the plan can be removed. The second is to minimise the contact and reference information held in the plan to only that which is really required in the first day or so and might not be immediately available elsewhere (such as details of how to get to a recovery site – all you really need is the address and telephone number). All the rest of the contact and reference information that might be needed until computer systems have been recovered can be held on a secure website, or downloaded as a PDF file on to devices that can store such documents (such as a Blackberry). Simple.