Business Continuity Planning for MSPs: Playbooks and Dry Runs

BY IT GLUE | April 09, 2020

The best way to make sure you’re ready for anything is to prepare for anything. That means having playbooks for the most likely continuity threats, and doing dry runs or simulations to run through the playbooks and see how well they hold up. This way, when disaster strikes you’ve already got a sense of what the top priorities are, and the dry runs will allow your team to identify areas where the playbook needs improvement.

Have Multiple Playbooks

Have a handful of different playbooks. The way you handle a ransomware attack will be quite different from how you handle a Godzilla attack, so multiple playbooks are necessary. A good playbook is all you need – it doesn’t need to be perfect. In fact, it won’t be, because no disaster is 100% predictable in terms of its impact. So focus on having the rough skeleton. Put all the key issues on the table – making payroll, getting the core parts of the business back and running, how to serve your clients, how to handle revenue disruptions.

Review Your Playbooks Regularly

Playbooks need to be revisited and revised on a regular cadence, too. Imagine last month if you’d looked up your pandemic playbook… only to realize that when you wrote it you were a quarter of the size, with only one location, and SaaS didn’t exist. If the playbook is not relevant to your business at the time of the disaster, it’s useless.

Dry Runs to Help Identify Areas for Improvement

Reviewing playbooks and doing dry runs, is also a way to identify issues ahead of time that you otherwise might not have thought of. A dumb example would be “use rainy day fund to meet payroll”, only to realize that your rainy day fund only has $1000 in it, because that’s what payroll was when you set the fund up in 1996. The plan may not be perfect, but it should be good enough to provide you with guidance and stability when you’re in a moment of crisis. Better to identify issues ahead of time.

Establish a Cadence for your Dry Runs

It is recommended that you conduct dry runs on a single scenario, but that you do three or four of them a year with your leadership group. Multiple copies of the playbooks should be available – lots of redundancy and failover is good here. Disaster planning should become part of your culture, because otherwise you simply won’t be ready when disaster hits. In that scenario, you’ll probably default to what you know, but what you know is built for business as usual, not business unusual.

Make Sure Your Playbook is Accessible

Disaster playbooks can’t live in a file cabinet collecting dust. Rather, they need to be where you can access them when you need them. Print multiple copies, of course, but also keep it on the cloud, stored in IT Glue. Set permissions on a need to know basis. Link the document to your key passwords, and to the checklists that your leadership group will use to get things back up and running quickly. We also recommend working with your clients on their continuity plans, where their IT needs are concerned. Share these between each other using MyGlue. If disaster strikes a client and you have a checklist of their top IT restoration priorities, you can get started right away.

Take Stock of What Really Matters

The current situation is an opportunity to rethink priorities, take stock of what’s important, but also to work towards becoming better. There’s no time like now to start evaluating your disaster preparedness and see how you can improve going forward.

To help with your business continuity planning, we’ve created an e-book that highlights some of the major issues and provides you with guidance. We invite you to download this e-book at your leisure.

Download the e-book here

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