11 May How to Create an Effective Business Continuity Plan
While many companies may treat business continuity as a fancy form of backup, it’s actually much more than that. A comprehensive business continuity (BC) plan outlines instructions and procedures that an organization must follow in case of disasters like a fire, flood, or a hacking attempt. It covers business processes, assets, and human resources.
With a BC plan, you are prepped to handle the worse situation scenario in a better way while maintaining customer confidence and retaining your current customers. More importantly, you are able to minimize your overall losses.
In this article, we will be discussing everything you need to know about business continuity:
Creating the right plan.
In case your organization doesn’t have a BC plan in place just yet, you should start by analyzing your business processes to determine vulnerable areas and estimating the potential losses that may occur if any of those processes go down for a few days or weeks.
Developing a business continuity plan should include the following steps:
- Identifying the scope
- Analyzing the key business areas
- Evaluating the critical functions of your business
- Calculating the acceptable downtime for every project
- Looking for dependencies between critical functions and business areas
- Creating a plan which can maintain continued operations
After creating the plan, you also need to create a checklist which includes information like where the plan is available, who needs to have it, the location of data backup sites, supplies, and equipment, as well as contact information of key personnel, backup site providers, and emergency responders.
Taking your plan on a test drive
Testing your plan is the only way to know if it will work or not. Though a real incident is a true test, a planned drill can provide you the opportunity to identify any gaps in your plan and improve on them.
One of the most common tests is a tabletop exercise, which usually involves the entire crisis management group of the company talking through a simulated disaster that could happen. It can either be a simple drill involving in-house disaster planners, or you can have a full-scale production involving professional moderators and local first responders.
The entire idea behind the drill is to have an escalating scenario which unfolds in different segments. At the end of each segments, groups can discuss how they would ideally respond to the scenario, then report to the other groups before letting the moderator tell them what actually happens next.
Here are some of the many scenarios you can discuss during tabletop exercises:
- An angry ex-employee sets the data center on fire which affects the company’s servers and website
- A flu epidemic hits the city and half of your employees get affected by it
- The company’s servers are hacked, and critical customer information along with their passwords is leaked on the dark web
The final step – Reviewing the plan annually
While a lot of effort will go into creating and testing your BC plan, you can’t just let the plan sit and expect it to work for your organization when a disaster hits four years later. Things constantly change, people come and go, and technology evolves. That is why, you need to review the plan, at least annually, to analyze which areas of the plan need to be modified.