Table of Contents Hide
- What is Business Continuity?
- Why is a Business Continuity Plan Important?
- Business Continuity Process
- What does a Business Continuity Plan Include?
- The Business Continuity Management Team
We rarely get advance warning that a tragedy is on its way. Even with considerable foresight, several things can go wrong; each occurrence is unique and unfolds in unanticipated ways.
This is where having a business continuity strategy comes in handy. To offer your organization the best chance of success during a crisis, put a current plan in the hands of all people who will be responsible for carrying out any aspect of that plan. The absence of a plan does not only imply that your firm will take longer than necessary to recover from a disaster or crisis. You may be have to close your doors permanently. Let’s see how to develop an effective business continuity strategy and what the plan should include.
What is Business Continuity?
Business continuity (BC) refers to preserving or swiftly resuming business functions in the case of a catastrophic disruption, such as a fire, flood, or malicious cyberattack. A business continuity plan defines the methods and instructions that an organization must follow in the event of a crisis. It includes information about business processes, assets, human resources, business partners, and other topics.
Is there a method to get HR, production, sales, and support functionally up and running so that the company can continue to produce money immediately following a disaster? For example, do you know how your customer service staff would manage customer calls if the building where they work is destroyed by a tornado? Will they work from home or another location temporarily? These types of problems should be included in the business continuity plan.
The business continuity plan should also include a business impact analysis (BIA). A business impact analysis (BIA) determines the impact of a sudden loss of business functions, which is usually in terms of money. This type of analysis also assists you in determining if you should outsource non-core functions in your business continuity strategy. However it might come with its own set of hazards. The BIA simply assists you in assessing the importance of your organization’s procedures.
Why is a Business Continuity Plan Important?
Business continuity is crucial at a time when downtime is unacceptable. Downtime can come from a multitude of places. Some hazards, such as cyberattacks and extreme weather, appear to be worsening. It is critical to have a business continuity plan in place that takes into account any potential disruptions to operations.
During a crisis, the strategy should allow the organization to function at a bare minimum. Business continuity aids an organization’s resilience by allowing it to respond rapidly to an interruption. Strong business continuity saves money, time, and the reputation of the company. A prolonged outage poses a financial, personal, and reputational danger.
Business continuity necessitates a business taking a look at itself, analyzing potential areas of weakness, and gathering essential information – such as contact lists and system technical diagrams – that can be beneficial outside of catastrophe scenarios. An organization can strengthen its communication, technology, and resilience by implementing business continuity planning.
You may also require a business continuity plan for legal or regulatory reasons. It’s critical to understand which regulations apply to a specific organization, especially in an era of rising regulation.
Essential Elements of a Business Continuity Plan
A business continuity strategy consists of three major components: resilience, recovery, and contingency.
You can increase an organization’s resilience by designing vital services and infrastructures with multiple disaster scenarios in mind, such as personnel rotations, data redundancy, and maintaining a surplus of capacity. Assuring resilience against various eventualities can also assist firms in maintaining key services on-site and off-site without interruption.
It is critical to recover quickly after a disaster in order to resume company functions. Setting recovery time goals for various systems, networks, or applications might assist prioritize which pieces must be recovered first. Other recovery tactics include resource inventories, agreements with third parties to assume corporate activity, and the use of adapted premises for mission-critical functions.
A contingency plan includes procedures for a number of external events, as well as a chain of command that distributes duties within the company. These obligations may include replacing hardware, leasing emergency office space, assessing damage, and hiring third-party providers for assistance.
Disaster Recovery vs. Business Continuity
Disaster recovery planning, like business continuity planning, defines an organization’s planned tactics for post-failure processes. A disaster recovery plan, on the other hand, is merely a subset of business continuity planning.
Disaster recovery plans are mostly data-focused, focusing on storing data in a form that allows it to be more quickly accessed after a disaster. Business continuity considers this, but also focuses on the risk management, oversight, and planning required for a business to remain functioning during an interruption.
Business Continuity Process
Starting the planning project is the first step in ensuring business continuity. The steps of business impact analysis (BIA) and risk assessment are critical in acquiring information for the plan.
A BIA can expose any potential flaws as well as the effects of a calamity on many departments. The BIA report tells a company on the most important functions and systems to prioritize in a business continuity plan.
A risk assessment detects potential threats to a company, such as natural disasters, cyberattacks, or technological failures. Risks can have an impact on employees, customers, building operations, and the company’s brand. The evaluation also specifies who or what a risk could hurt, as well as the likelihood of the dangers.
The BIA and risk assessment are inseparable. The BIA gives information on the probable consequences of the disruptions identified in the risk assessment.
Business Continuity Management
It is critical to identify who will be in charge of business continuity. It could be one person in the case of a small business, or it could be a whole team in the case of a larger organization. Software for business continuity management is another alternative. Software, whether on-premises or in the cloud, aids in the conduct of BIAs, the creation and updating of plans, and the identification of areas of risk.
Business continuity is a living, breathing activity. As a result, a company’s business continuity plan should not be left on the shelf. The organization’s content should be communicated to as many people as feasible. Implementing business continuity isn’t just for times of crisis; the corporation should conduct training exercises so staff know what to do in the event of a real disruption.
The importance of business continuity testing is enormous. It’s difficult to determine whether a plan will succeed if it hasn’t been tested. A business continuity test can be as basic as a tabletop exercise in which employees discuss what would happen in the event of an emergency. A full emergency simulation is included in more stringent testing of the business continuity strategy. To better simulate a crisis, a company can organize the test ahead of time or do it on the spur of the moment.
When an organization completes a test, it should examine the results and revise the plan as needed. Some portions of the strategy are expected to work well, but other activities may need to be tweaked. A regular testing schedule is beneficial, especially if the company’s activities and personnel change often. Comprehensive business continuity is tested, reviewed, and updated on a regular basis.
What does a Business Continuity Plan Include?
BC addresses the planning and preparation required to assure an organization’s capacity to perform important business services during disaster occurrences. The business continuity plan includes, identifies, plans for, and/or generates the following:
- How to communicate with consumers, vendors, and other third parties to provide accurate information and support.
- How to ensure that clients may continue to get services or products.
- The sequence and timing required to reestablish business processes.
- How to provide assistance to employees in the event of an emergency.
- The technology necessary to support business processes (disaster recovery – or DR – will apply technology recovery solutions).
- When technology is unavailable, apply workaround processes. In the event that business locations are disrupted or unavailable, where and how should people and processes be relocated?
- The teams and organizations that will be required to manage emergency situations.
- Dependencies in business processes (what, or who does each business process rely upon in order to do their work).
- Regular exercises to ensure that plans and actions fulfill standards and will function in the case of an actual incident.
- Ensure that personnel numbers are adequate for both external and internal needs during an event.
- Documentation of the processes and actions to be taken during an event in order to complete the items listed above.
The Business Continuity Management Team
A strong business continuity program begins with a Business Continuity Management (BCM) team. The BCM team is led by the individuals in the list below. They are in charge of enforcing the policies and directing BCM activities throughout the organization.
The individual in senior management who has overall responsibility and accountability for the BCM program is known as the sponsor.
#1. The Business Continuity Manager: This is the person in charge of the BCM program.
#2. Assistant Business Continuity Manager: The Business Continuity Manager’s backup. This could be a titled position or a position that has been assigned to you.
#3. Administrative Assistant: The person in charge of assisting the BCM team. This is frequently an administrative assistant from the Business Continuity office, if one exists, or another member of the administrative assistant team.
In addition to these personnel, representatives from business units and IT must be included in order to provide feedback on the creation of acceptable recovery strategies for business and technological activities. Non-BCM staff members will conduct the job of recovery preparedness, while the BCM team will give advice and assistance.
It may appear daunting at first, but identifying important processes and applications, as well as adopting fundamental recovery methods and plans, is a need for any functional and effective business continuity strategy. Your plan should include a basic organizational structure for your team, as well as the essential advice and checklists for your business units, IT department, and management team, allowing for swift response and action.
Even if you are unable to put your ideas into action, having a basic plan in place will provide much-needed structure in the event of an emergency. Remember that it is more necessary to have something in place than it is to have perfection; in the event of an emergency, the structure will be more vital than perfection. Remember that something is preferable to nothing; perfect is the enemy of excellence.