How to Get Started with a Business Continuity Plan
There are a number of threats that can cause operational issues to a business. Some are large enough to completely close a business down (like destruction of the physical building), while others are less severe but can still be costly, like an extended power outage.
How a business handles their ability to keep their operations going or get them back up and running quickly after a catastrophe of any size is typically addressed in a business continuity plan.
While everyone hopes they can avoid serious operational issues, no matter how well you plan, no one is immune. Whether from flood, fire, or cloud provider outage, there are parts of a business infrastructure that are out of our control when it comes to unexpected downtime, except for the ability to create a plan to for quick recovery.
54% of companies have experienced an extended downtime event (more than 8 hours) within the last 5 years.
Downtime costs money, and in some cases, companies never fully recover from incidents like ransomware or major data breaches, unless they’ve put together an action plan.
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
Business continuity planning is the process of creating strategic action plans for a variety of potential threats to your company. Protective plans may include things like backup and recovery systems and an alternate location from which your employees can work in the event of a catastrophe.
The goals with business continuity include:
- Protecting your company from risks to your business
- Recovering from a disaster as fast as possible
- Limiting the downtime and associated costs after a disaster
Getting started with a business continuity plan can seem daunting, but with the roadmap below you should be able to take the steps necessary to ensure you have a plan and your company is protected from multiple threats.
Four Areas of Your Business Continuity Plan
Beginning your business continuity plan is really about envisioning all the worst-case scenarios that would harm your business in any way. By breaking the process down into four main areas, it can make the planning process more comprehensive and easier to work through.
1. Business Impact Analysis
Before you can start planning systems to protect yourself or make contingency plans, you need to first know what you’re planning for. What are the things that could negatively impact your business?
During your impact analysis, you want to identify time-sensitive and critical business functions and all the moving parts that support them.
For example, shipping your product to your customers is a time sensitive process, and a few of those moving parts that the process depends upon are:
- The availability of the product to ship
- Your warehouse crew being available and efficient
- The product boxing and labeling process
- Your shipping carrier’s ability to move the product from point A to point B
If severe weather strikes, that could inhibit the ability of your carrier to deliver the product. If your raw material supplier discontinues an ingredient you use, that’s also a threat to the process.
The best way to ensure you’re capturing all types of threats is to create a Threat Analysis Questionnaire and have your process managers complete it for their departments. This will help ensure all angles are covered.
2. Develop Recovery Strategies
Next, you want to take the risks that you’ve identified and develop strategies to deal with them, both to reduce the chance of the threat happening and to mitigate the damage if they do.
Recovery strategies also include the identification of gaps in your business continuity and how to address them.
For example, if you have only one supplier of “ingredient Z,” which is a vital component of your product, identifying a second supplier that you can use if needed is a way to fill that risk gap.
3. Develop Your Plans
For plans to be effective and able to be implemented in the event of a disaster, they need to be documented and those responsible for each part of a plan should be identified.
For example, if your systems are attacked by ransomware, your team should be able to pull out a manual with steps to follow that will tell them exactly what to do to mitigate the damage and how to get help recovering backup systems.
Some of the items you’ll want to include when documenting your business continuity plan are:
- Organise recovery teams
- Develop relocation plans
- Implement cloud-based systems
- Write step-by-step instructions for IT disaster recovery procedures
- Include department and process managers
4. Training & Testing
Any good business continuity plan needs to be tested thoroughly so any weak spots can be identified and addressed before an actual emergency happens.
You’ll want to ensure your employees are properly trained on your business continuity plan and develop testing exercises that can be run both to teach the recovery procedures and identify any missing steps.
It’s also important after a disaster has occurred and been handled, to go back over your business continuity plan to see of there are any parts that need to be updated based upon going through a crisis for real.
Can Your Business Recover Quickly in the Event of a Disaster?
GKM2 helps Sydney businesses put systems in place to protect their data and IT infrastructure in the event of a malware attack, natural disaster, or other work-stopping event.
Contact us today to learn how we can help with your business continuity plan. Call +61 2 9161 7171 or request a quote online.