IT Best Practices.
Creating and Implementing a Business Continuity Plan
Running a business requires planning for every eventuality. Backing up servers, creating copies of important files, and cross-training employees are all normal ways of protecting a business from the unexpected. Just as it’s important to have a contingency plan in case an employee quits, it’s critical to have a plan to keep the business running in case of a larger disaster.
Ideally, no business would ever have to worry about interruptions, but that’s not the case in the real world. Disaster can strike at any minute, from extreme weather to fires to cybercrime. Having a business continuity plan can be the difference between bouncing back as a company or struggling in the aftermath.
Here are the basics of continuity plans and why they’re crucial for every business to have.
What Is a Business Continuity Plan?
Business continuity is simple: It’s the process of keeping a business running even if a disaster happens. According to statistics from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 40% of all companies that are impacted by a disaster never reopen. Another 25% of impacted businesses close within one year of reopening after a catastrophic event.
Only 35% of companies can bounce back and continue business as usual. Being able to reopen immediately and continue normal operations can be critical for survival.
That’s why it’s so important to have a business continuity plan. It’s an in-depth set of strategies and procedures for keeping the business running, even if the worst comes to pass. By planning ahead and having a clear strategy, the company doesn’t have to scramble in the aftermath. Instead, the plan allows employees to return to normal operations with minimal problems, safety concerns, or delays.
Threats to Business Continuity
A number of problems can threaten business continuity. Common threats include natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornados, which will affect any business and the surrounding community significantly. A business may also face threats like fires and blackouts, which can lead to more localized problems.
Finally, owners and managers can even consider problems like billing mistakes, cybercrime, and malicious attacks. If it could cause the business to close for longer than a few hours, it threatens business continuity. Having different continuity plans for various threats can help recover, no matter what caused the damage.
Continuity Plans: What They Include
Disaster recovery plans are often mistaken for business continuity plans, but they aren’t the same thing. Disaster recovery is heavily focused on the immediate aftermath, reopening operations, and restoring IT infrastructure as quickly as possible. Business continuity plans include disaster recovery plans, but they include other strategies as well.
A good business continuity plan includes:
- A business impact analysis that explains the organization’s core functions. Any business likely has a number of critical functions that support the company as a whole. A business impact analysis lists these functions and explains what may happen if they are disrupted. Many business impact analyses list disruption impacts of several hours, several days, and a week or longer.
- A disaster recovery plan that details which functions must be prioritized in the aftermath of a disaster. The recovery plan focuses on getting the most critical parts up and running first and then provides a path back to full operation. It should also include procedures for backing up data and safely storing important files offsite, as well as potential business continuity services to replace lost functions.
- A clear framework outlining which employees are responsible for which aspects of the business recovery plan. Assigning responsibility is critical to make it clear who should take action. It also helps to prevent gaps and overlap in recovery procedures before they happen.
- A training program that gives each employee a clear understanding of their role in the recovery. Having a plan isn’t enough—everyone involved needs to understand the strategy and have experience carrying it out, at least in a training environment.
The Process of Creating a Business Continuity Plan
Creating a well-designed, successful business continuity plan takes time and effort. It’s essential to make sure every detail is covered, so there’s no risk of something important falling through the cracks. That’s why working with Global IP Networks can help. We have the experience necessary to walk a company through its business continuity planning process without missing the details.
The first step in creating a business continuity plan for a customer is to brainstorm potential threats to the business. It’s necessary to anticipate a problem before an organization can make a plan to resolve it. Working with professionals can help ensure that business leaders don’t miss a potentially devastating situation.
Next, Global IP Networks can help a company identify the weak points and critical functions found in every organization. In the modern, technological age, these weak points are largely located in IT infrastructure.
Working with Global IP Networks can help outline the necessary data and the network, bandwidth, and other essential services. What would happen if a business lost access to its information or a critical online service went dark? Preparing backups and alternatives can help make the worst feel manageable.
Finally, creating workarounds and plans is critical for success. Global IP Networks can help prepare strategies and artifacts that allow businesses to use the data and services they do have. With years of combined experience, the Global IP Networks team can help prepare procedures and policies that mitigate the impact of any disaster, no matter the cause.
Don’t Be Caught Unprepared
Disasters don’t announce their arrival ahead of time. Preparing in advance can help any organization bounce back from a catastrophe and limit the impact on customers. By performing a thorough business impact analysis, creating a disaster recovery plan, and providing employees with a clear road map, companies can keep running no matter what. Let Global IP Networks business continuity and disaster recovery services design the crisis management strategies that will work for you.