The ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of Business Continuity Planning
When it comes to building a thriving business, business continuity planning (BCP) isn’t nearly as exciting as coming up with a creative marketing strategy. Having said that, it’s just as important – if not more so. Do you have one?
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
A business continuity plan is a formal document that clearly outlines how your business will continue to operate during any sort of unplanned disruption in service. It’s a much more comprehensive document than a basic disaster recovery plan and includes multiple contingencies for every business process, including IT systems, human resources, facilities, and more.
“Plans typically contain a checklist that includes supplies and equipment, data backups and backup site locations. Plans can also identify plan administrators and include contact information for emergency responders, key personnel and backup site providers,” IBM explains. “Plans may provide detailed strategies on how business operations can be maintained for both short-term and long-term outages.”
One of the most noteworthy components of a BCP is the disaster recovery portion that addresses how IT disruptions to servers, networks, and devices will be handled. This typically covers different methods for restoring service, as well as manual workarounds for extended periods where order can’t be restored.
Why You Need a Business Continuity Plan
A business continuity plan might sound like just another “box” that you have to check off, but it’s actually much more than that. Companies that have strong BCPs tend to do better in almost every area of their operations. Here are some specific benefits:
When you add up each of these benefits, it’s easy to see why having a business continuity plan is so integral to the overall success of your business.
4 Tips for Creating a Business Continuity Plan
By accounting for each of these layers, you ensure you have a robust plan that gives you the best chance of withstanding any type of attack, outage, shortage, or natural disaster.
With all of that said, here are some helpful tips for creating a BCP that works for your business:
1. Conduct a Business Impact Analysis
The very first step is to conduct a thorough business impact analysis (BIA) to analyze how particular disruptions could impact your organization. This analysis will look at specific threats, the risk level of different threats occurring, the potential intensity of these threats, and what the impact could be on products, services, workforce, and other assets.
The BIA is arguably the most important and foundational element of the entire BCP process. If you don’t have an accurate BIA, everything else will come up short. If you’re unsure how to conduct one, you can always partner with experts in different fields. A local IT support service, for example, can help you identify risk areas and solutions for various IT-related threats.
2. Develop a Recovery Plan
Once you know what sort of threats you face and the impact disasters could have on your business, it’s time to form a recovery plan. In this portion of the BCP, you identify and implement specific steps that will allow you to recover critical business data and functions. It also addresses ways to keep your business up and running in the midst of challenging circumstances.
3. Form a Continuity Team
While certain elements of a BCP can be automated, most of it must be conducted manually. (After all, we’re usually dealing with technological disruptions that prevent optimal functioning.) To make sure your business continues to run smoothly during this time, we recommend forming a continuity team. This team should consist of people from different departments of the organization.
4. Train Your Team
The final tip is to train your team. Just like an army would never go into battle without first practicing formations and maneuvers, your continuity team should never be thrust into a disaster recovery situation without first being carefully trained on different risk scenarios.
Putting it All Together
Business continuity planning isn’t the most attractive or interesting topic to business owners. It is, however, one of the most important. If you’re looking to build a long-term business that holds up over many years and decades, you have to account for disasters. At the very least, a BCP gives you the resources needed to respond accordingly.