When was the last time a disaster struck your town or business? Did you have much warning? When it comes to predicting large scale events, technology has admittedly improved over the last several decades. Modern day tornado warnings give approximately 13 minutes’ lead-time before a tornado hits. We’re able to predict where a hurricane will make landfall and where an earthquake is most likely to occur. However, we’re still a long way off when it comes to pinpointing exactly where and when a catastrophic event will hit. Unfortunately for your business, without a business continuity plan in place – you’re a sitting duck.
Business Continuity is NOT a Disaster Recovery Plan.
Many people confuse business continuity and disaster recovery. Business continuity refers to the ability to maintain or quickly recover the main functions of your business in the event of a major disruptive event. It’s a plan that outlines specific procedures for your businesses to follow and covers important parts of the company such as assets, business partners, HR, and business processes. Disaster recovery only focuses on the organizations IT infrastructure and operations after the event has passed. Now, you may already have a disaster recovery plan in place for a disaster, and that’s good. Restoring your IT as quickly as possible is important to remaining competitive. However, what thought have you given to your people and processes? Having a business continuity plan in place is vital in improving your market value, reputation, and increasing your customer’s confidence in you.
Creating a Plan
When creating your plan, you must first look at your business’ processes, finding the vulnerabilities, and what those can cost your company if it were to go down for an extended period of time. When you start to develop your plan, you’d do well to keep these things in mind:
- Identify your plans scope
- Identify your key business areas
- Identify your critical functions
- Identify the dependencies between your different business areas and their functions
- Determine what the acceptable amount of down time is for each function
- Create a plan outlining how you plan on maintaining your operations
It’s best to keep in mind who does what in your organization when you are formulating your plan. Interview key players who you know have survived major events previously and learn how they were able to get through a difficult time.
Test Your Plan Once, Then Test It Again and Again
Once you have your plan in place, it’s important to test it as frequently as possible. Don’t think that having a successful run through one time is going to be adequate. Repeatedly testing your plan ensures that it fills it’s intended purpose. How often you test your plan is really up to you and your business. Most businesses test their business continuity plan anywhere from two to four times a year. You may want to test yours more or less depending on your employee turnover rate, type of your organization, or how many processes and IT changes have occurred since the plans last test. There are several different ways you can test your business continuity plan. You can schedule table-top exercises, walk-throughs, or stimulations to make sure everyone is trained properly on what to do in case of a real event. A table-top exercise consists of everyone involved looking over the plan together to identify gaps and weaknesses. When you schedule a walk-through test, your team members should get together and practice drills to identify weak links to actively improve upon. A stimulation should be done at least once a year. During this drill, management should be able to stimulate a disaster. This helps to reinforce that the test is done right.
Improve and Create Awareness
After each round of testing, make sure you are looking at what went right and what went wrong during the drill and make improvements to the plan. Management should always be maintaining employee awareness, ensuring everyone is on the same page. If you aren’t sure how to go about starting your business continuity plan or what weaknesses you need to be aware of, give Nerds Support a call. We can help you get your business continuity plan in place and tested to provide the optimal chance of success when a disaster does happen to strike.