One of the biggest buzzwords in the business world is continuity. But if that means that business continuity is on your radar, that’s a good thing.
Unfortunately, buzzwords (or phrases) are a double-edged sword. They become so common that you start to ignore them. Ignoring business continuity will be to your detriment.
So, let’s spend a few minutes exploring business continuity, how it’s different from disaster recovery, what could happen if you don’t have a continuity plan, and six essential things your plan should contain.
Business continuity vs. disaster recovery
At first glance, it can seem like business continuity and disaster recovery are the same thing. However, disaster recovery is a part of business continuity. As it’s only a part, you need a complete business continuity plan that moves beyond just disaster recovery.
Disaster recovery is mostly concerned with backing up your data. The thinking is simple enough. When disaster strikes, the negative impact on your business will be far greater if you lose all your critical data. So, disaster recovery plans give you a way to protect that data by making sure there’s a backup copy.
Business continuity, on the other hand, aims to address all the ways your business will be affected in the wake of a disaster. In addition to data backup, it includes factors such as maintaining communication, ensuring critical business processes stay online, continuing to provide your employees with the tools they need to do their jobs, and enabling your customers to contact you as needed.
You need both kinds of plans.
What if you don’t have a business continuity plan?
Instead of looking at all the bad things that may happen, reflect on all the good things you’ll miss out on. For example, work won’t be completed, revenue-generating activities will stop, and your ability to communicate internally and externally will come to a grinding halt. You’ll start to lose ground at the moment of disaster and you won’t regain any ground until you identify a way to get things up and running again.
Unfortunately, getting things up and running again or securing business continuity is tough without a plan. As a result of all these consequences, your reputation will take a considerable hit. Even worse, if your competitors appear prepared and you don’t, you may lose business to them.
The 6 essential elements of business continuity
If you’re ready to start building out your own business continuity plan, the best option is to contact your managed IT services provider. They’re already familiar with your business and will be ideally situated to help you put together a solid BC plan.
But if you’re planning to take a DIY approach, here are the things your plan should include.
1. A literal, written plan
This may seem obvious, but not everyone thinks about it. Your business continuity plan should be written down. If you lack thorough documentation, you don’t have a complete business continuity plan.
2. Arrangements for addressing critical operations
Some processes are more critical than others. You need to decide what the most critical operations are for your company and then build out plans for maintaining or restoring them in the event of a disaster.
3. Clear documentation of who’s responsible for what
It’s not enough to have a plan for maintaining and restoring critical processes. You also need to know who is responsible for each part of each plan. Making sure these details are crystal clear reduces the risk of everything falling apart in the event of an emergency.
4. An emergency communications strategy
What will you do if all the cell phone towers are down? How will your team stay in contact with each other? You need to think about communications strategies that address worst-case scenarios.
5. Off-site backup
Data backup is important. But to really protect your data, you need to do more than back it up. You need to back it up off-site. Doing so ensures that even if your office is literally destroyed, your data will remain intact.
“Putting in the advance groundwork during quieter times not only leads to cooler heads during more turbulent times, but will also make a tremendous difference to your customers, employees and future business performance.”
6. An alternate work location
Finally, you need a plan for moving business operations to another location in the event that your office can’t be used. When this happens, can your staff do everything remotely? Is there another office in a neighboring city that could handle things for a while? Be prepared for this possibility so your business operations flow smoothly.
Making business continuity happen
Business continuity is always going to feel like something you’ll have time to do later. The problem is, if you don’t already have a plan before you need it, you may find yourself in hot water.
We strongly recommend that you put a business continuity plan together, now. Trust us—if the day comes that you need it, you’ll be glad you did.
Keep reading: Cyber Threats in 2019