How to Create a Business Continuity Plan
If you are a business owner, it’s impossible to overlook the need to manage certain risks. Anything from cyberattacks to disasters can have a significant impact in the long term. If you think about it, there is always a good chance a serious event will cripple your business.
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Why Make a Business Continuity Plan?
A data breach, for instance, can deal a massive blow to your company’s reputation and create a situation that makes it difficult to recuperate your losses. Natural disasters such as earthquakes and flooding are worse since these can damage essential assets.
The good news is that your business can fully recover from any problem. With a proper business continuity plan, you will be able to resume operations and reduce the time and resources you will be spending to restart your business.
To develop a continuity plan for your business, there are a lot of factors to consider. To make this easier for you, consider these basics:
Know the level of risk your business is facing
Realizing the importance of continuity planning is the first step to addressing worst-case scenarios before they occur. No business is safe from disruptions and the sooner you realize that the more focused you will be in developing a continuity plan that’s feasible, cost-effective, and relevant to the unique needs of your business.
As you set out to build a business continuity plan, consider factors such as the location and nature of your business. If you have an office facility that’s located near an active fault line, knowing what to do during and after a major earthquake ensures a faster recovery time for your business. You will need to take all possible risks into account so you will be able to know how to keep your business afloat.
Identify areas and assets that are vulnerable to disruption
Once you have taken note of the external factors that could disrupt business operations, you need to know which assets are most vulnerable to damage. Apart from office fixtures and facilities, you should also include tech and IT assets. If you have dedicated servers, how do you make sure that the data stored in these are recoverable?
It helps to do an inventory of all the assets you have onsite so you can check which ones deserve high levels of security and protection. In addition, focusing on your weak spots will help you allocate the right amount of resources for risk mitigation, recovery, and preventive maintenance. This will also give you an idea if there’s a need to upgrade your current assets or invest in failsafe tools and platforms.
Estimate your losses during downtime
Your business loses money for every minute that passes during downtime. Apart from losing revenue, you will also need to consider the cost of repairing and restarting components that are severely affected by a potential disruption.
While most businesses prefer to calculate the cost of developing a business continuity plan, a more practical approach is to estimate potential losses and begin planning from there. Whether it’s a ballpark figure or a real-world estimation, knowing how much money your business losses during downtime should help you develop a strategy that will reduce the impact on the bottom line.
Upgrade your IT infrastructure
Physical assets are not the only things you need to take note of in your continuity plan. You should also prepare for data security risks that are just as serious. All kinds of cyberattacks have the potential to bring your business down, so it matters a lot to build an IT infrastructure that minimizes the impact of these disruptions, improves your security position, and prevents valuable data from being lost or destroyed.
In such cases, you will need to set up an effective data recovery system. Consider opting for a cloud backup service that lets you save valuable data offsite and allows you to restore lost data in no time.
You will need the help of a managed IT service provider that specializes in providing secure cloud storage. Stonebridge IT, for one, offers a seamless data recovery service that’s designed to recover files so your business can pick from where it left off right before the disruption.
Define the roles required then delegate to the right people
The next thing you will need to do is to build a team that will execute the business continuity plan in the event of a disruption. This should consist of at least one executive and several tech supervisors. Then again, the composition will vary depending on the needs and the unique situation of your business.
In any case, it’s important that the people carrying out the recovery process have the technical know-how. It all starts with specifying the responsibilities that each member will assume.
Who will manage logistics? Who will take charge of overseeing the entire process? Who will be handling goal-tracking and reporting? Who will take care of customer concerns? Who will handle public relations duties? Consider getting people who have leadership and problem-solving skills to fill in these roles. You will also need to involve them in the process of creating a continuity plan.
Test your systems and processes
How robust is your business continuity plan when a real-world disruption occurs? Not all continuity plans will perform in line with your expectations. There are contingencies along the way that will disrupt the process of recovery.
Although that’s almost always the case, you should still aim to develop a system that achieves most of your business continuity goals. For this reason, you will need to test your business recovery systems continuously and see what you need to shorten the time it takes for your business to recover after a disruption. Take time to review your business continuity process especially as new risks become apparent.
It’s possible for your business to survive a serious disruption. So long as you plan for the worst, your business is guaranteed to thrive no matter how difficult the challenges to continuity get.