Business continuity planning is a strategy to continue operations if a business is affected by some sort of disaster, whether that be a natural disaster, power failure, IT system crash, supply chain problem or any other type of disruptive event. It may be good to start by noting the difference between disaster recovery and business continuity planning:
Disaster recovery is the process of resuming business after a disruptive event by restoring lost or damaged data centers, servers or other infrastructures.
Business continuity planning is a more comprehensive approach that refers to the strategy that allows minimal to no downtime during a system outage or disaster, as well as after.
Now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s focus on business continuity planning and whether or not it is effective for your organization.
Identifying problems with your business continuity plan
There are common principles and theories for a good business continuity plan, however, they will vary depending on the business or situation faced. Here are three common problems that arise with companies’ business current continuity plans that must be addressed to determine how effective it is:
1. Outdated information – Organizations do not update their current business continuity plans after internal changes have occurred or tests have been performed to determine plan’s effectiveness.
2. Lack of awareness – Employees or staff are unaware the business continuity plan exists within the company and do not know what is expected of them during a disruptive event.
3. Obsolete technology – Many companies overlook the fact that updating and replacing outdated technology systems can help resume faster business operations it the event of a disaster.
A business continuity plan that meets your needs
For companies without current business continuity plans, these strategies can be established through a combination of addressing the issues above and implementing continuity management. Having a plan in place will help define which assets and resources need to be repaired or replaced in the event of a disaster. To create your own plan, follow these steps:
Identify business functions
In order to create a plan, businesses must identify the important functions of their business, including HR, accounting, marketing, sales and other teams. After determining the functions, define which internal and external resources they rely on. The result should be a comprehensive list of departments and resources that run your business.
Determine maximum downtime
The second step of your plan should be to determine the importance of each resource utilized by the organization. What is the maximum downtime without each resource that the company can spare? A list of resource replacement and repair should be created accordingly.
Consider preventative options
Preventative measures can be put in place before a disaster even happens to either prevent disruptions or minimize damage. While implementing preventative tools may be costly, they may be necessary for critical resources on your list. This is also a good time to create a disaster recovery plan to recover after the disaster has occurred and in the event that some resources are unavailable.
Practice makes perfect
After creating your business continuity plan, educate your staff and employees on the practices set in place. By practicing and training your staff, you have the opportunity to check for weaknesses in your strategy. When changes occur in the organization, continually update your plan accordingly.
Business continuity plans should be well documented, updated and practiced regularly. If you have not already, consider creating a business continuity plan that is unique to your business. Disaster can strike at any time and having a business continuity plan in place can be very effective in the recovery process if implemented correctly.