Disasters happen. And when they do, they can destroy or incapacitate entire buildings, towns, and cities. This is where the concept of Business Continuity becomes critical. When a major outage hits your building, your neighborhood, perhaps even your entire city or region, you’ll want to be sure your organization is resilient to continue performing in the face of crisis.
Business continuity (BC) refers to maintaining business functions or quickly resuming them in the event of a major disruption, whether caused by a fire, flood or malicious attack by cybercriminals.
If your organization doesn't have a Business Continuity Plan in place, start by assessing your business processes, determining which areas are vulnerable, and the potential losses if those processes go down for a day, a few days or a week. This is essentially a Business Impact Analysis (BIA).
Next, develop a plan. This involves the following steps:
- Identify the scope of the plan.
- Identify key business areas.
- Identify critical functions.
- Identify dependencies between various business areas and functions.
- Determine acceptable downtime for each critical function.
- Create a plan to maintain operations.
One common business continuity planning tool is a checklist that includes supplies and equipment, the location of data backups and backup sites, where the plan is available and who should have it, and contact information for emergency responders, key personnel and backup site providers.
Remember that the Disaster Recovery Plan is part of the Business Continuity Plan, so developing a DR plan if you don't already have one should be part of your process. And if you do already have a DR plan, don't assume that all requirements have been factored in. You need to be sure that restoration time is defined and make sure it aligns with your business expectations.
As you create your plan, consider interviewing key personnel in organizations who have gone through a disaster successfully. People generally like to share "war stories" and the steps and techniques (or clever ideas) that saved the day. Their insights could prove incredibly valuable in helping you to craft a solid plan.
A number of factors contribute to how resilient your business is, but success in a disaster depends on three main areas: the strengths of leadership, agility of operations and availability of IT.
To help in your preparedness efforts, we’ve developed a checklist to help you. This checklist identifies important, specific activities that businesses can do now to prepare for an event.