Why your business needs a business continuity plan​

There are many things that disrupt the normal operations of your business, such as cyber-attacks, natural disasters, or equipment and utility failures. These disruptions can lead to a reduction in productivity, lost revenue, and in some situations, cause businesses to close their doors permanently.

Having a sound plan for your business continuity in the event of disasters will help recovery and ensure ongoing repercussions are limited.

What is a business continuity plan?

When you plan for disasters, it's important to cover the steps you take in the immediate aftermath. In simple terms, a business continuity plan (BCP) is like an emergency backpack, it details the steps you need to maintain functionality (even at reduced capacity) while the cause of the disruption is dealt with.

A BCP has contingency plans set out for every aspect of your business. This includes assets, supplies and equipment, business operations, and human resources. The plan should also identify who should be contacted for specific disasters, such as backup site providers, emergency responders, and key personnel.

Since many businesses rely heavily on technology to function on a daily basis, the BCP will set out comprehensive measures to ensure mission-critical business functions can remain operational, should online systems be affected.

This covers things like:
  • Staff communication
  • Time-critical project management
  • Payment systems
  • Customer service systems
  • Data backup and recovery.

An important part of a BCP is a disaster recovery plan, which sets out strategies for managing IT disruptions to servers, networks, and devices. The disaster recovery plan should cover how to maintain operations so key business needs can be met, including manual workarounds until systems can be restored.

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Why is a business continuity plan important?

It’s not just nice to have a business continuity and disaster recovery plan - it is an essential for every business. Disruptions can be costly, whether it is a power outage taking you offline for an afternoon, to a cyber-attack that affects your computer systems.

The longer it takes to recover from a disaster, the greater the impact it can have on your business, regardless of what caused the disruption.

The foremost obvious reasons for a BCP is to ensure your business stays operational in the event of a disruption, and so you don’t lose critical data in the process. However, there are also other reasons to adopt a BCP:

  • Protect your company’s reputation, if you respond quickly and efficiently to disruptive events, which reduces negative sentiment that can accompany reduced productivity.
  • Build relationships with stakeholders and third parties, by demonstrating your business is well managed and a trusted partner.
  • Builds trust with employees, who will feel their needs have been considered and accounted for.
  • Meet regulatory requirements, particularly in the event of cybersecurity related disasters
  • Improve the ability to respond to and recover from security disasters.

How to implement a business continuity plan?

Today’s businesses can struggle to build a BCP that takes into account the complexity of business operations and IT environments that include remote working, cloud computing, and global disasters. In some ways, a business continuity risk is easy to plan for, as natural disasters are more identifiable than cyber threats, but the rise of cyber-attacks points to ensuring business continuity strategies focus on IT risks.

Creating a business continuity plan starts with looking at a business impact analysis. This identifies the key activities in your company that are critical to its survival. From there, you can work out which resources are needed to support these activities, the impact of not performing these activities, and the length of time your business could cope without these activities.

Having a BCP and disaster recovery plan is an investment in your business future, and should be proactively approached rather than left as an afterthought to deal with at some point - it will be too late to recover lost data and business reputation once a disaster strikes.

Some organisations use external disaster recovery and business continuity service providers to work with them to make informed decisions about the best strategy to implement with regards to protecting important business data. In addition, having a robust data backup and data recovery plan, which is a simple way to ensure your business can continue operating after the disruption has been resolved.

A foolproof business continuity plan and a proactive backup and data recovery plan will have your business up and running quickly after a major event, whether it is a natural disaster or a cybersecurity event.

If you’re thinking about taking the next step to protect your data and business from disaster, contact Essential Tech’s IT consultants who can ensure you have a comprehensive strategy for business continuity and peace of mind.

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