“Falling to plan is planning to fail” –Alan Lakein
Failing to plan for an interruption to your organization’s daily work will always increase the amount of downtime you experience. Failing to recognize that your business will eventually be interrupted will exacerbate your downtime further still. Any interruption can impact revenue, profitability, customer satisfaction, and client retention. This is why all businesses must have a Business Continuity plan (BCP) in place and test its effectiveness regularly.
Business Continuity is the capability of a business to continue critical business operations following a disruptive incident such as natural disaster or cyberattack. In order to achieve Business Continuity, the right systems need to be in place. This includes tools like backup systems and reliable remote access capabilities.
But the tools and systems to attain Business Continuity are not the same as a Business Continuity plan. Business Continuity tools without a plan is like a plane without a pilot. The tools are not going to be very effective when you need to put them to work.
What are the components of a Business Continuity Plan?
Define the risks that can impact operations – Cyberattack, weather, hardware failure, or service outage.
Install measures to reduce the risks & impacts – Disaster recovery backup solutions, remote access, internal communication paths, and failover internet service.
Test the measures that have been put into place – Have users practice working from home, test backup integrity and restore success, etc.
Regularly review your procedures – Look for ways to improve the tools or process used to continue working during an incident and audit any internal changes such as employee turnover, new office locations, or new technologies implemented into daily work that might impact the established Business Continuity plan.
How to build a Business Continuity Plan
A BCP should include both technical and non-technical components and be tested regularly. The best way for a small business to begin creating a BCP is by asking and answering these key questions:
When faced with an disruption to business operations…
How do employees access data?
How do you communicate with your employees, customers, and vendors?
Where do your employees report?
How do you recover data?
How long does data recovery take?
Once these questions are answered, it is up to the business owner, administrator, or previously defined project team to disseminate this information to the staff and train them on how to respond during a business interruption.
You should also be sure to include your IT team in the development and testing of your organization’s BCP. As an integral part of a business’ day-to-day success, your IT department’s early involvement will ensure that your staff will be able to get back to work quickly in the event of disruption or disaster.