What is a Business Continuity or How to develop a business continuity plan

Depending on the location of your business, your operations may be vulnerable to storms that down trees and power lines. And, no matter where you are, a simple accidental deletion of data by one of your employees can put your business services on hold. Plus, don’t forget about the continually increasing cyber attacks that hold business data for a ransom. For all these reasons and more, you need a Business Continuity Solution.

What Is A Business Continuity Solution?

Some IT support companies call this a Business Continuity Plan, and some call it a Backup & Disaster Recovery Plan. But no matter what you call it, it will keep your data safe and accessible if you experience a manmade or natural disaster.

It provides you with a robust set of tools to give your business the best chance to stay open and recover quickly, and with as little damage as possible to your operations and reputation.

Your IT services company will map out a plan and devise strategies to ensure your business continuity. Your Plan will:

  • Protect your IT System from significant disruptions.
  • Get your business back up and running in the event of a disaster.
  • Test your backups and recovery regularly as part of routine site maintenance.
  • Perform backups hourly to a secure remote data center without human intervention–with logging and alerting that notifies about not just failures but on the absence of success–a fundamental distinction.
  • Recover files and complete systems for time periods going back days, weeks and months.
  • Take backup one step further; your IT service company will show you how to leverage the full power of the Cloud so your staff can continue working from anywhere they can access the Internet.

Other options to consider in your Business Continuity Solution include:

  • A Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephone system to communicate when phone lines are down.
  • An Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to transmit data including orders and payments from one company to another.
  • Approved laptops and wireless devices to create, process, manage and communicate information electronically.

 What Are The Benefits Of Having A Business Continuity Solution?  These are the Top 10 benefits:

  1. Your information technology will be protected, and your staff will be prepared and productive in the event of a disaster. Employees will be informed and rehearsed, and they’ll know what actions to take. This could save your business a lot of downtime and money.
  2. It will protect the image, brand, and reputation of your business. If you’re able to continue functioning despite a disaster, your patrons will see you as dependable, and your reputation will be enhanced as a result.
  3. Your customers will feel confident doing business with you; you’ll be able to keep your commitments and ensure the continuing quality of the hospitality services you deliver.
  4. It shows your investors that you take your business seriously; that you’re prepared and ready to maintain productivity.
  5. Your insurance company could view your business more favorably knowing that you’ve done everything you can do to protect it from a disaster.
  6. Your staff will gain an awareness of business operations that they didn’t have before. Business Continuity Planning can often provide your personnel with useful insights into improving the way they handle tasks, even in areas that hadn’t been previously considered.
  7. If a disaster does occur, the cost of disruptions will businesses with a Business Continuity solution in place.
  8. There won’t be disruptions to services. Your competitive position will be maintained or even improved because you’ll be able to meet your guests’ requirements, where other businesses that aren’t protected won’t.
  9. Business operations will be enhanced when you identify areas of inefficiency or risk during the analysis part of your business continuity planning.
  10. The best benefit of a Backup & Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Plan is your ability to deliver services and/or products regardless of business disruptions.

What Should You Do Now?

 Contact your IT support company in {city}.  Ask them to:

  • Identify Your Potential Risks.You likely already know when your riskiest time of year is for a weather-related disaster. And, of course, manmade disasters are always a risk. Mistakes by employees, vandalism, and data theft are threats to consider as well.
  • Assess Your Operations and Level of Preparedness. Look for flaws in your operations. Do you have a work-at-home plan for employees if they can’t get into your business? How will you communicate and collaborate with them? This is when a VoIP phone system and cloud computing can really help. Ask your IT support company about these and other technology solutions that will keep you working and connected.

Don’t Go IT Alone. You need an expert who’s trained in Business Continuity preparation and execution. This will give you peace of mind knowing that no matter the disaster, they will be there for you.  The service we provide at Outsourced CIO LLC is to assist you to develop a business continuity plan.

Develop a Business Continuity Plan

Project/Deliverable

  • Focus on implementing a structured and repeatable process that can be applied to one business unit at a time to avoid BCP from becoming an overwhelming project.
  • ​Enable business leaders to own the BCP going forward by establishing a template that the rest of the organization can follow.
  • Leverage BCP outcomes to refine IT DRP recovery objectives and achieve DRP-BCP alignment.

Description

Problem:

Situation: Natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy have increased executive awareness and internal pressure to create a BCP. Similarly, industry and government-driven regulations are placing more focus on business continuity capability. Customers are also demanding that organizations provide evidence that they have a workable BCP before agreeing to do business.  IT leaders, because of their cross-functional view and experience with incident management and DR, are often asked to lead BCP efforts.

Complication: IT managers asked to lead BCP efforts are dealing with processes and requirements beyond IT and outside of their control. BCP requires input from multiple departments with different and sometimes conflicting objectives. Typically there are few, if any, dedicated resources for BCP, so it can’t be a full-time resource-intensive project.

Benefit:

Reduce the required effort. Keep the work manageable and maintain momentum by focusing on one business unit at a time; allow that unit to own their BCP.

Prioritize your effort. Evaluate the current state of your BCP to identify the steps that are most in need of attention. Get valuable results faster. Functional deliverables and insights from the first business unit’s BCP can be leveraged by the entire organization (e.g. communication, assessment, and BC site strategies).

Here is our secret sauce:

Identify BCP Maturity and Business Process Workflows

Prioritize BCP efforts and level-set scope with key stakeholders.

  • Assess current BCP maturity – Outputs: BCP Maturity Scorecard: measure progress and identify gaps.
  • Establish the pilot BCP team
  • Identify business processes, dependencies, and alternatives – Outputs: Business process flowcharts: review, optimize, and allow for knowledge transfer of processes. Identify workarounds for common disruptions to day-to-day continuity. Conduct a BIA to Determine Acceptable RTOs and RPOs
Conduct a BIA to Determine Acceptable RTOs and RPOs

Set recovery targets based business impact, and illustrate the importance of BCP efforts via the impact of downtime.

  • Define an objective impact scoring scale – Outputs: BCP Business Impact Analysis: objective scoring scale to assess cost, goodwill, compliance, and safety impacts.
  • Estimate the impact of downtime – Outputs: Apply the scoring scale to estimate the impact of downtime on business processes.
  • Determine acceptable RTO/RPO targets – Outputs: Acceptable RTOs/RPOs to dictate recovery strategy.
Document the Recovery Workflow and Projects to Close Gaps

Build an actionable, high-level, recovery workflow that can be adapted to a variety of different scenarios.

  • Determine current recovery procedures. – Outputs: Recovery flow diagram – current and future state. Identify gaps and recovery risks.
  • Identify and prioritize projects to close gaps. – Outputs: Create a project roadmap to close gaps.
  • Evaluate BC site and command center options. – Outputs: Evaluate requirements for alternate business sites.
Complete Your BCP and Implement Governance

Outline the actions required for the rest of your BCMS, and the required effort to complete those actions, based on the results of the pilot.

  • Repeat the pilot BCP process and create your overall BCP. – Outputs: Pilot BCP Executive Presentation
  • Create BCM teams. – Outputs: BCP Reference Workbook: teams, roles, and action items
  • Update and maintain BCP and BCMS documentation. – Outputs: BCP templates to complete the relevant documentation (BC Policy, BCP Action Items, Recovery Workflow, etc.)

Contact us to get started on your Business Continuity Plan today before its too late.