Business Continuity Plans


By now you’ve undoubtedly heard stories of businesses that get disrupted and the horror stories that follow as they attempt to put the pieces back together again. Whether it’s due to a natural disaster, or a manmade one, any business can come to a screeching halt if the damage is extensive enough.

Managed service providers are the best option in helping you build and maintain a disaster recovery and business continuity plan that can keep your business running in the face of most disasters. But there are also steps that your business can take right now in order to keep a step ahead of trouble, should it come knocking.

Here are seven pieces of effective business continuity plan:

Build the right team
A business continuity team should include members from all parts of your organization, from labor to c-level executive. All team members should be involved in planning, testing and executing (should it come to that) the continuity plans. Involvement should be continual, throughout the year – not just once or twice. A continuity plan is only as good as the team involved, so it needs to be kept top-of-mind if it’s going to be executed properly.

Make a thorough plan
Once your continuity team is in place, they will need to begin considering the wide variety of ways your business could be disrupted. They should always assume the worst, while at the same time not forgetting to consider smaller, less invasive issues that might crop up. Business priorities should be rated – customer protection, revenue assurance, etc. Assure that all team members have a say in the matter. Once an agreement is reached, the team can begin addressing strategies and costs surrounding each recovery process. This step is also a crucial step for IT team members because it will help identify the applications most critical to your business.

Review, test, repeat
Without regularly scheduled reviews and tests of your business continuity plans, they will quickly be forgotten and become ineffective should they ever have to be implemented.

Although scheduling such reviews and tests are often hard to do (considering the schedules involved), doing so must be a priority. Reviews ensure that your business continuity plan is kept current in order to reflect changes in your business priorities, IT environment, and operational structure. Testing the plan through full simulations should be done at least once annually and should cover everything from data recovery to crisis communications.

Make communication count
Should you ever need to implement your business continuity plan, coordinated and calm communications between the team members is essential. When developing your plans, take all forms of communications into account – email, IM, public address systems, telephone, company intranet, etc. Draft emergency messages ahead of time so that they are ready to be used, they are consistent and may be easily updated as necessary.

Keep employees safe
Especially in the case of natural disasters, your business continuity plan can integrate with other safety plans. Local emergency response organizations, from the local police department to the Red Cross, can help you tailor emergency response plans. These plans can then be folded into your overall business continuity plans.

Access to business resources
The main reason businesses suffer after a disaster is that employees are unable to continue working. Your business continuity plan is going to be centered around these efforts. Technologies that allow remote access are usually at the center of business continuity plans. Most businesses already employ mobile access technologies to some degree. These may be leveraged in the case of a disaster, even in a limited fashion.

IT operations
Most businesses today revolve around data. Finances, customer records, IP, etc, are probably already being backed up by your organization. During the business continuity planning sessions, verify that redundant systems are in place in order to make sure that your data, even if it can’t be accessed right away, is safe until you regain access. Also make sure that the required apps are backed up and available to employees so that they may continue working either on location or remotely.

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