Businesses cannot afford any downtime in this competitive world. However, disruptions can happen at any time. Whether it’s a supply chain disruption or a cybersecurity breach, businesses must show resilience in dealing with these issues in order to get back up and running quickly and efficiently. Without business continuity plans, you risk losing your business to competitors who can provide uninterrupted service to customers.
Considering the significance of business continuity, it is important to understand various aspects of business continuity planning and make it a part of your business operations. In this blog, we’ll explore everything business continuity entails and understand how it plays a critical role in developing a resilient business structure.
What is the meaning of business continuity?
In simple terms, business continuity focuses on creating a plan to deal with unexpected disruptions that take place in the business world. Although risk mitigation plays a major role in the functioning of all major business organizations, what happens when disaster strikes unannounced? This is where business continuity comes in.
It provides a roadmap to ensure that the essential functions of an organization are up and running quickly even after the occurrence of a disaster. With proper planning, you can keep mission-critical functions running throughout the organization and keep operational downtime to a bare minimum.
How do you ensure business continuity?
When thinking of hindrances to business continuity, we always think of major disasters like fire or cyberattacks. However, that isn’t always the case. The issue could be as simple as an employee leaving the organization with key information stored only in his memory. In such cases, you can ensure business continuity with well-documented processes.
To prepare for every scenario possible, you need to create a plan that addresses all aspects of business disruption. However, it doesn’t just end there. You need to constantly and consistently test and update the plan to ensure its effectiveness. In short, you need a business continuity management framework that acts as the foundation for all your business continuity efforts.
What is business continuity planning (BCP)?
A business continuity plan is a written document that provides an outline of how a business organization will continue to operate in the event of an unexpected disaster. These disasters could be anything including fire, flood, disease outbreaks, cyberattacks, etc. A BCP is the most integral part of ensuring business continuity since it identifies all potential threats and provides viable solutions.
Why do you need a business continuity plan?
Planning plays a critical role in any disaster prevention or risk management strategy. A BCP does exactly that and more. It provides an outline of what is necessary and how to react during a business disruption. Without a BCP, you won’t have a clear idea of what action needs to be taken when faced with a disaster. In essence, it is a written record of agreed-upon practices that should be adhered to.
Even when there are no key decision-makers around during times like the holiday season, a BCP can be used as a guide to follow standard business continuity practices.
What are the objectives of business continuity planning?
The main objective of business continuity planning is to recognize the potential threats to a business and come up with measures to counter them. Some of the key objectives of a business continuity plan are as follows:
- Prevent or minimize financial loss to an organization
- Serve customers even during an unexpected disruption
- Create contingency plans to mitigate the effects of various disruptions
- Identify key resources who can perform recovery operations
- Find weaknesses in solutions and come up with alternate solutions
What should a business continuity plan include?
Designing a business continuity plan is not a rigid process. It may differ from one organization to another. However, there are certain elements that could be applicable to all organizations. Here’s a list of common elements that should be included in a business continuity plan:
- All mission-critical functions and their complete analysis
- Data backup and recovery components
- An analysis of all IT functions within an organization
- A list of all major threats to a business
- A list of strategies and countermeasures against these threats
- Proof for all the tested strategies
You can also think of other key elements specific to your business while designing your plan.
When should a business continuity plan be updated and maintained?
A business continuity plan is not something you create once and then forget about. It is a critical part of your business, and you must periodically review and update it. You can update a plan when you come across new threats or solutions to existing threats. In fact, you must include anything that can provide you existing plan. Regular maintenance and review are essential if you want to be prepared for all kinds of threats to business continuity
Check out our Quick Start to Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery webinar.
What is business continuity testing?
For a business continuity plan to work successfully, you need to maintain certain quality standards. This helps ensure that your systems are running smoothly without any issues. Business continuity testing plays a key role in maintaining these quality standards. To put it simply, it gives you an idea of how prepared you are to deal with an unexpected disaster.
How do you test a business continuity plan?
Here are some proven ways to test your business continuity plan:
- Review the plan: Your testing process starts with a simple review of your existing plan. When reviewing the plan, you need to gather inputs from various departments and stakeholders. In addition to managers and business leaders, you need to include other individual stakeholders in the review process.
- Determine the duration: Your employees will often be too busy to take part in a testing process. That’s why you need to set aside some time for them to take part in it. Determine how long it should last so all involved stakeholders can prepare ahead and allocate time in their schedule.
- Create a scenario: You need to create a fake scenario of a disaster that affects your business. Your employees should perform their roles correctly during such scenarios. You need to monitor their activities and make sure everything is under control.
- Evaluate the results: Once the simulation is over, you need to evaluate the results of the test. This helps you identify areas of improvement and make modifications to the existing plan.
How often should business continuity plans be tested?
Testing should be a continuous process. The business continuity system is cyclical and relies on proper performance review and tweaking to run efficiently. But what if you don’t experience a disruption? How often should you stage a disruption to see how you perform? The answer lies in business continuity management.
What is business continuity management (BCM)?
Business continuity management refers to a framework that identifies the potential risk of exposure to various threats and the solutions you can incorporate. It measures an organization’s resilience against various threats and how the interests of various stakeholders can be safeguarded. It is a comprehensive framework that includes both the planning stage and the testing stage.
Why is business continuity management important?
Business continuity management begins with the development of policies and procedures that ensure business continuity. This framework helps an organization identify whether it has strictly adhered to all the procedures outlined in the document.
Under this framework, you recognize the need for business continuity management first, then proceed to assess threats at the internal and external level, followed by designing and implementing a comprehensive business continuity plan before finally testing and analyzing the effectiveness of the said plan and new or recurring threats.
This is a cyclical process that has responsibilities for stakeholders at each step. The framework also helps businesses ensure that each member is performing what is expected for business resilience.
Who is responsible for business continuity management?
The responsibility falls on the entire organization without a doubt. Each member has a role to perform when it comes to ensuring business continuity after a disaster. Your employees need to be aware of the potential threats and they must know how to act in case of an unexpected disruption. Considering the level of responsibility associated with everyone, having a well-documented system in place is of critical importance.
Business continuity documentation with IT Glue
IT Glue is one of the top players in the industry when it comes to business continuity documentation. With our powerful platform, you can document all aspects of business continuity including security policies, guidelines, procedures, system information and more. By keeping your documentation up to date and sharing it with your team members through IT Glue, you can ensure instant access when in need of business continuity.
IT Glue’s SOC 2-compliant documentation platform features an immutable audit trail, multifactor authentication and next-generation password management engine. These features are fully integrated and linked with all your documentation.
To learn more about how IT Glue can help you with business continuity, request a demo.
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