Today, planning and implementing a business continuity plan has become a necessity. And why wouldn’t it be? Your organization can’t possibly predict every upcoming disaster. And even with ample lead time, there’s simply no way of telling how a cybersecurity incident or natural disaster will impact your business.
Keep reading to learn the secrets of building a foolproof business continuity plan.
What Is a Business Continuity Plan?
In simple terms, a business continuity plan (BCP) is a documented system that averts damage and recovers your data from threats in a crisis scenario. Implementing a business continuity plan safeguards your assets and ensures that critical operational activities continue even after a disaster.
With the help of stakeholders and staff, you can devise a business continuity plan to prepare for future threats. A thorough and successful business continuity plan should be integrated throughout your business and IT infrastructure to minimize downtime and damage.
Whether you run a major corporation or small business, your business continuity plan comes down to similar goals:
- Sustain continuity
- Minimize loss
- Retain customer value
- Protect the brand image
What Exactly Are the Benefits of Business Continuity Planning?
A well-thought-out and resourceful BCP has the following benefits:
- Gives you a competitive edge
- Safeguards your supply chain
- Boosts confidence among employees and customers
- Minimizes overall financial risk
- Saves lives in the event of a physical disaster
- Ensures you comply with industry regulations
- Preserves your brand reputation
What Are the Components of a Successful Business Continuity Plan?
The specifics of a business continuity plan will vary depending on your industry, company size and IT infrastructure. But there are a few key components that every successful BCP should include:
Business Impact Analysis
Identify time-sensitive business processes and determine how the failure of each operation may impact your business.
Identify and implement planned steps to recover critical business operations.
For the sake of managing business disruptions, you should form a dedicated response team.
Training and Testing
The members of your team should be trained and tested to ensure they understand the BCP inside and out.
What Does the Ideal Business Continuity Plan Checklist Look Like?
Follow these steps to ensure your BCP is standardized and adhered to across your organization.
Build a Team
Assign roles and responsibilities to people within your organization so everyone knows what tasks they’re responsible for when a disaster occurs. The team will be responsible for executing your business recovery plans from preparation to execution.
Formulating a business continuity plan requires you to list out all the potential threats, risks and vulnerabilities that could impact your business.
The size of your list depends on your set-up and geographical location. The physical location of your business, for instance, may increase the chances of flood, fire, earthquake, tsunami or hurricane.
Here are some other common reasons your business can face downtime:
- System failure
- Hardware incompatibility
- Power outage
You’ll need to establish controls and safeguards for each threat on your list.
Conduct Business Impact Analysis
Business impact analysis (BIA) requires you to identify critical, time-sensitive business processes and determine how these processes depend on each other to keep the business running. During BIA, you’ll need to establish:
- The impacts (both financial and operational) that would stem from the loss of an individual business function or process
- At what point the loss of a function or process would result in the identified impacts
- Completing this analysis will help you prioritize the processes that are most important to your financial and operational continuity
Educate All Staff Members
Even if your staff understands IT and basic cybersecurity, that doesn’t mean they will be prepared to handle business continuity. Everyone in your company should be aware of the business continuity plan and the role they play in protecting the business.
Create a training program to help your staff develop the skills they need to execute a recovery strategy. Make sure you update it once or twice a year to keep up with new processes and tools.
Protect Sensitive Information
Some data is so vital that putting it in the wrong hands or losing it could jeopardize your entire business. Financial records, login credentials and other mission-critical data should be isolated and stored somewhere that allows fast access during recovery.
Back Up Important Data
As a general rule, your backup plan should include creating copies of anything that can’t be replaced. If you have physical data such as tax documents, employee files and contracts, make digital copies and put security controls in place to minimize loss of important documents.
Choose a Recovery Site
Designate a secondary site that your employees can relocate to during a disaster. The site should be equipped with everything needed to recover high-priority data and resume critical business operations.
Create a Communications Plan
A communications plan details how you will let your partners, suppliers and customers know about the crisis. The goal is to put people’s mind at ease and ensure your business continuity team has ample information to coordinate their response efforts. Your plan should include:
- Sources and methods of communication
- Who will assume the role of spokesperson
- Key messaging (including the source of the crisis, what data was impacted and what you’re doing to remedy the situation)
Rest Easy With Expert Business Continuity Planning From SugarShot
A disaster scenario can quickly render your business inoperable if you’re not prepared. And that’s why an effective business continuity plan has become the need of the hour. But many companies simply don’t have the time, money and resources to dedicate to business continuity planning.
Looking for a better solution? SugarShot can provide you with a completely outsourced incident response team to manage and remediate disaster scenarios. If a data breach, network virus, system shutdown or other catastrophic IT event hits your business, we quickly mobilize a team of engineers and managers to get you operational — fast.
Contact us right now to learn more about our managed IT services.