A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that outlines how critical business functions will continue to operate during and after an interruption in service. The goal of Business Continuity Planning is to cut the impact of any damage on its business operations.
An essential part of a business continuity plan is to first design a business impact analysis, also known as BIA, and then analyze the impact of a natural or artificial disaster that disrupts business processes.
What is the Purpose of a Business Continuity Planning Process?
A well-designed disaster recovery plan will ensure that essential functions can continue, even in the event of a major outage. Business continuity management is a critical job of process managers who ensure that businesses continue operating despite interruptions.
Business disruption is a major financial loss to every business.
There are many potential sources of disruptions that could impact a business, such as:
- Weather events
- Power outages
- Natural disasters
By having a continuity plan in place, one can recover critical business functions in the event of a disaster.
Without a plan, businesses may struggle to recover from an interruption, which could lead to significant financial losses. In some cases, businesses may even need to close their doors for good.
Here are some important questions you need to ask yourself before making a BCP:
- How would the business continue to function in case of a power outage or internet failure?
- What single points of failure exist?
- What risk management systems are in place?
- Is there a work-from-home policy for key personnel?
- How many employees need to run the data center and other critical functions?
- Who has hard copy access to client information?
- How and when to notify the management and clients?
- What critical functions and services need to restore first?
- What key steps do you need to take within the first 24 and 48 hours?
What are the Types of Business Continuity Plans?
While no one likes to think about the possibility of disruptions, it’s important to get ready for them. Not many small and medium businesses are ready for disruption to their services. Even in developed nations, power outages can happen.
These are situations beyond anyone’s control. A business continuity plan can help to cut the damage and give businesses a better chance of bouncing back. Here are the 5 types of these:
- Business continuity
- Crisis Management
- IT Disaster Recovery
- Crisis Communications
- Emergency Response
What are the Benefits of a Business Continuity Plan?
Companies with effective continuity programs see a variety of advantages, many of which result from the survival-oriented approach necessary to plan, maintain, and carry out Business Continuity operations.
Here are four key benefits:
1. Saving lives of your employees
Regardless of your recovery plans, if you can not get people out of the building during fire drills or other emergency situations, there is no use for them. Prepare people in advance with a solid emergency and evacuation plan. It will save lives in an unfortunate event of short circuits and fire. This is the most significant advantage of any Business Continuity plan since a company cannot recover without the right workforce. It is also a fantastic method to prove your concern for the individuals you use.
2. A clear roadmap for businesses
Business continuity planning gives organizations a clear roadmap and policies that support business strategy in unanticipated situations. Any organization may respond to unforeseen occurrences with the help of a good strategy. Maintaining the availability of critical services and ensuring quick recovery in the case of an incident are the objectives.
3. Build confidence among employees and clients
Organizations open about their persistent efforts to maintain continuity are building confidence among employees and clients. Customers and third parties gain trust as a result of dedication to business continuity.
4. Maintain a recovery time objective
By having a contingency plan in place, businesses can safeguard themselves from the danger of making the wrong decisions and managing ineffective communication. As such, businesses have a good idea of how long it will take for a system or network to go live in the event of a disruption.
5. Build brand image
When a firm implements its business continuity plan, it can start focusing on delivering values and upholding the company’s integrity. This in turn allows business operations to continue while serving clients and vendors.
Business Continuity Plan Key Features
Despite the fact that every company interruption is different a business continuity plan offers a structure and preparation to help with these decisions. The following components make up an effective business continuity plan.
1. Define A Team Structure
Establish a clear decision-making structure so that employees know the hierarchy of decision-making. This is an important step when making a business continuity impact analysis. Make support teams for incidental tasks including emergency planning, networking, and business preparation.
2. Develop a Business Continuity Impact analysis
To keep the situations manageable, focus your approach on the worst-case scenarios rather than several tiered variations of each incidence. Include recovery strategies, such as disaster recovery site, recovery point objective, and recovery priorities.
Prioritize critical functions and define a set of processes on who will manage the operational continuity management. In your plan, there should be a clear work-from-home policy. In case of a power outage, identify and document the employees that will be working from home.
3. Identify Gaps
It might be worse to have no business continuity plan at all than one that is inadequate since it will give you a false feeling of security and leave you scrambling in the event of an emergency. Every year, review and update your strategy to account for modifications to your IT environment, business goals, operational structure, and other elements.
The only thing constant in the world of IT and business is change. Adapt change management practices to ensure your plan is ready for implementation at the right time.
4. Test Your Plan
Measure your test results and strive for continuous improvements, whether they are application availability goals or personnel safety assurances.
5. Devise Crisis Communication Strategy
Create ready-to-transmit automated messages. Make sure you are ready to provide a consistent message to the public through press releases, social media updates, and spokesperson interviews. Draft sample emergency messages in advance to use during a real disaster.
6. Employee Safety Procedures
Consult with regional and national organizations for advice on your program’s emergency response training needs. No matter what, keeping people safe comes first. Local organizations that can help with your program’s emergency response training include the Red Cross, the fire department, and the police department. Customize your policies to your staff, infrastructure, and locations, and review and test them with all workers.
For fire safety drills, ensure there is a plan that fits the National Fire Protection Association’s codes and standards.
Business Continuity Plan Essential Elements
The business continuity team does a risk assessment on each function to identify any vulnerabilities and weak points before putting up defenses. This helps maintain risk management guidelines. The quicker operations can resume normal operations, the less probable it is that the business would experience long-term loss.
Here are essential elements of business continuity planning:
- Important contact information and other details
- A revision management process that describes change management procedures
- The purpose and scope
- How to use the plan
- When to initiate the plan
- Software and tools to use for recovering data backups
- Complete policy information
- Emergency management procedures and contact information of first emergency responders in the area
- Checklists and flow diagrams
- A schedule for continuous updating and testing of the planning process
What are the Steps to Create a Business Continuity Plan?
- Bring together a group of individuals who are knowledgeable about the many operational facets of your company to determine what possible situations pose the biggest risk to your business. In Florida, it is simple to default to thinking of dangers as natural occurrences like a fire or a storm. Yet, hazards may also include technology occurrences like a cyberattack or a utility outage.
- The goal of a business impact analysis is to identify the key components of your company that are most vital and have the largest risk potential. If there is little to no influence on business operations, don’t spend time or resources.
- Both during and after a crisis, communication is crucial. Focus on people in a successful Business Continuity Plan. The ability to communicate with staff, partners, and clients are crucial.
- Develop recovery capabilities for a function or process after assessing the impact on the business. To achieve the four “R’s” of response, resume, recovery, and restoration, your goal in this phase is to identify the people, locations, and resources needed.
- Make written and continuous communications with all workers for effective planning.
- Test the changes in personnel, possible risks, and essential company operations.
The Importance of Testing Your BCP
A well-planned business continuity test approach makes it easier for protecting the company, its promise, and its brand value.
It is through testing that determines the readiness of your business to combat disruptions. Testing your BCP in a controlled environment is imperative to determine the viability of the plan.
Some organizations test their continuity plans once a year, while others do it two to four times. In short, your key personnel turnover, IT mishaps, and other factors will determine how often you should test your plan.
One common way of determining the viability of the BCP is through a tabletop exercise, which takes place in a conference room. It starts with the team going over the BCP, identifying gaps, and ensuring the representation of all business units.
Each team member walks through their part of the plan to determine any loopholes. During this time, some teams consider testing the plan. A Business Impact Assessment (BIA) mentions the guide to the company’s reaction.
Conducting an emergency evacuation drill every 6 months is a great way to train employees on the best ways to remain safe during an incident.
During each phase of business continuity plan testing, include some new employees on the test team. “Fresh eyes” might detect gaps or lapses of information that experienced team members could overlook.
Testing business continuity plans ensure team members practice responding to emergencies and identifying loopholes.
How to Use Cloud and Consulting Companies for Business Continuity?
It is essential to outline the procedures you’ll take to safeguard, maintain, and use your cloud and SaaS services. In a crisis, business continuity enables the company to continue operating. Business continuity’s initial stage and disaster recovery guarantee that communications and IT systems function. Use IaaS and SaaS cloud service models for disaster recovery planning.
With a customizable platform created to fit the needs of your team and adapt as those needs evolve, you can encourage your employees to go above and beyond. Most firms can recover from disasters and ensure business continuity with the cloud computing solution since it is straightforward and affordable. There is no expensive capital investment necessary since it removes the need for buying and maintaining duplicate hardware and software.
With the growing concern of cyber attacks such as ransomware, businesses have started transitioning from a manual data recovery approach to an automated one. This approach is useful today in an ever-evolving digital-first world to help businesses get up and running with minimum downtime.
With automated solutions, third-party service providers back up your data and provide 24/7 real-time monitoring to detect and prevent threats.
It all boils down to resiliency orchestration, which is a cloud-based approach that uses disaster recovery automation for businesses relying on a hybrid IT environment.
Understanding risk exposure is key to effective business continuity management, and in today’s fast-paced world, implementing the best practices plays a critical part in a company’s future security.
For a business to operate after an unexpected disruption, a solid business continuity plan is crucial. Companies may lower the risks of a continuous loss of critical computer systems by doing proper risk assessments and developing policies for prevention, reaction, and recovery.
Any business continuity plan needs to have a solid recovery strategy and an in-depth knowledge of potential threats. down That implies that top management must develop and revise the strategy; by not assigning the role to subordinates.
Moreover, if senior management prioritizes the strategy by setting out time for proper evaluation and testing, it is likely to stay current and viable.