31 Oct Making an Effective Business Continuity Plan
In this day and age having some of, if not quite a lot of, your business linked to something online or operating online is just the natural progression. There are so many different tools, softwares and platforms that can help streamline businesses that it would be foolish not to take advantage of it.
However, this can come with some rather substantial risks such as having your business operations temporarily or sometimes permanently wiped out by cyber attacks. This is why it is important to have effective cyber security in place to try and minimize the damages caused by cyber attacks.
But sometimes even with effective cyber security business activities can still be stopped by cyber attacks or possibly by something more sporadic and random such as a global pandemic. And when your business has stopped you need to have something in place to help it to continue as it was before. You need some Business Continuity Plans.
What Is Business Continuity?
Business continuity is when your business has its operations seized by any number of serious interruptions out of your control and you find a way for the business to continue working around or off the back of the interruption.
A business continuity plan will outline in full detail the procedures and instructions that your entire organisation must follow in the eventuality of a disaster. An ideal business continuity plan would cover every part of your business in detail and allow and help everyone to continue to work as much as they can in whatever the circumstances may be.
The majority just think of a business continuity (BC) plan as just being the same as a disaster recovery (DR) plan however this is not the case. A disaster recovery plan pertains to restoring the infrastructure of the company after it has been damaged. This contrasts to a business continuity plan which works to help the business continue operations during the crisis instead of trying to fix it. It is there to try and aid the continuation of the business in times of crisis.
You need to be on board with very deeply analysing the inner workings of your business to make a successful business continuity plan. You must ask yourself questions like if all of the technology went down how would all of the departments continue to do whatever work was possible? Or, if there was another pandemic would everyone effectively be able to work from home? Is there a point keeping all areas running or would it be better to move resources to the areas of the business that are still able to operate with some semblance of order. The more you think about and consider and the deeper you go through the business, the better plan you will end up with.
The business impact analysis (BIA) section is often overlooked when making or thinking about a business continuity plan however, it is an important part that needs to be looked into. Business impact analysis looks at the impact of having the sudden loss of business functions – as stated earlier, resources may be required more in specific areas than others. This analysis will give you insight into any areas that you could possibly, if any, divert resources from and over to in any kind of crisis. Damage limitation is key; the damage will always be there but how deep that damage goes is down to the extent of your planning.
What Is A Business Continuity Plan Important?
As I am sure you are already aware customers are the very lifeblood of your business as without them you wouldn’t have any income. A good business continuity plan can make sure that your customers are keen to stay with you as there is no better way to prove your calibre than by handling unforeseen circumstances well. It proves that you aren’t just a fair weather business and that when the circumstances are at their very worst you will still be providing as much of the same service you always provide as you can.
Restoring IT is paramount for a lot of companies. This has made it increasingly common to have disaster recovery solutions and IT can implement those solutions for you.
Having the latest technology is excellent and can make sure your business is able run smoothly however your business really relies on the people who operate the technology. As previously stated, competence in challenging times will impress clients and make them more likely to keep you as their go to service provider.
What Does A Business Continuity Plan Look Like?
To start with assess your business processes, pinpoint which areas of the processes are the most vulnerable, then its best to work out the potential losses if those processes were to go down and you can work this out for different time periods. From this you should be able to see where would be best to divert resources from and then to make the best of what you have.
Next, Develop A Plan. This Involves Six Steps:
- Identify off the bat the extent you are going to go into with your plan. It makes sense to be as comprehensive as humanly possible as it would waste time to only concentrate on one area of your business and then have to pull the plan apart and start again as there was another part of your business that effects the plan.
- Identify all of the most important areas of your business in particular the areas that are more closely connected; the marketing and sales teams for instance would be closely connected.
- Identify the critical functions and processes which are essential to the operation of your business.
- Identifying the areas that the most other areas depend on will show you which area or areas are the most important to get going again after having a major interruption.
- Determining how long each area of the business can be gone without for will show which areas are not as much a priority. Some areas will need to not really have ever gone down and will need to be up and running again as soon as possible. However, some might be able to remain down for perhaps days.
- Creating a plan to maintain operations will include which procedures are the most important to get up and running again for the business to continue working as close to normal as possible.
Creating a checklist so that you know what supplies and equipment is necessary for the business continuity plan to go ahead as fast as it possibly can so that everything can be back in operation as soon as possible. Be sure to include everything needed in case for any reason you aren’t there; for example, details of data backups and who to contact for help if needed.
To go with your business continuity plan you need an effective disaster recovery plan because you can’t just continue without fixing or recovering from the problem so whilst you manage to continue you also need to fix the problem alongside this.
Creating a business continuity plan can seem like a daunting undertaking, so do it with members of your team as they can probably offer a lot of useful insight as to how to get their respective areas up and running again.
Reviewing Your Business Continuity Plan
Don’t leave your plan for years and then expect it to operate perfectly, the tech industry is constantly evolving, and you will need to make sure your plan evolves with it otherwise the plan won’t be anywhere near as effective. Another thing to make sure of is that all of the members of staff that have a key role in the plan are all in the loop and know all of the changes.
This is a lot to take on board, if you need any help with your Business Continuity Plan get in contact with our industry professionals today and we can help you to put a plan in place.