If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that it’s almost impossible to know what’s just around the corner. So, when the unexpected happens, such as fire, flood or cyber-attack (or pandemic!), what’s your plan? That’s where Business Continuity comes into play. Essentially, a BC plan sets out procedures and instructions that will guide your company whilst in disaster mode. Clearly, if you don’t have a clear plan, your chances of surviving a disaster could be severely limited.
Why is Business Continuity Important?
Business Continuity (BC) isn’t just disaster recovery. BC looks at all of your business functions, including IT. A business that remains competitive right after a disaster demonstrates solid planning and resilience. Furthermore, it will have a positive effect on company reputation, boost customer confidence and improve market value.
Essential Parts of a Business Continuity Plan
To develop a BC plan, follow these 6 basic steps:
- Identify the scope of the plan.
- Define key business areas.
- Identify critical functions.
- Define dependencies between various business functions and areas.
- Determine acceptable downtime for each critical function.
- Create a plan to maintain operations.
At this stage, it’s a good idea to create a checklist that includes essential supplies and equipment and the location of data backups. Also, where the plan is available and who should have it. Finally, include contact information for emergency responders, key personnel and backup site providers. As the plan is created, if possible, talk to other business owners who have been through a disaster. People like telling their war stories and you may glean some good ideas and strategies.
Test, Review and Create Awareness of the BC Plan
You should test your BC plan to find its weaknesses. This can be done with a real simulation of a disaster or by performing a structured walk-through with key personnel. After this, it’s important to review your plan at least annually. After all, businesses change, technology moves on and therefore your BC plan may be of limited use. Lastly, take your BC seriously. Make sure you create awareness from the top down. If the worst happens, you’ll need support from everybody.