Most probably, emergencies, business systems failure, calamities, among other risky events, are not part of the things you think about and plan for as an entrepreneur. That is part of the reasons why man-made and natural disasters can bring down even the most successful entities. Such disasters include disease outbreaks, floods, cyberattacks, hurricanes, and fires, which can wreak havoc on firms. For that reason, implementing a business continuity plan as well as ensuring that it remains up-to-date is not an option in this case.
Insight into a Business Continuity Plan
Most business owners may be ready and willing to adopt a business continuity plan (BCP). However, such individuals lack an understanding of what business continuity is all about and how it can help them. Additionally, businesses are experiencing the devastating effects of the pandemic. Also, computers are still at risk years after the WannaCry ransomware attack. For some in Houston, recovery is yet to come to an end after hurricane Harvey.
Also, some entrepreneurs believe that insurance policies provide sufficient cover for them. For that reason, according to them, implementing a BCP is unnecessary. The only thing is that an insurance cover may help you recoup property or economic loss. But it will not help your enterprise pick off after a disaster. A BCP is a document that outlines how your organization will continue operating after suffering an unplanned disruption of service.
Understand that a BCP is more comprehensive than a disaster recovery plan. It contains contingencies for business partners, company processes, human resources, as well as assets. The implication, in this case, is that a BCP focuses on every aspect that may affect the smooth running of your business operations in the aftermath of a crisis, tragedy, or calamity.
So, by adopting a BCP, you will ensure that your daily operations remain alive. And resuming activities within the shortest time possible after a crisis will not be a problem.
The three fundamental aspects of a BCP are;
Allows you to establish a plan to recover a data center at a different location if a disaster renders the primary site inoperable or destroys the same.
Ensures that your firm has access to applications even when you are experiencing local failures. Such failures may be in IT hardware or software, the business processes, or within physical facilities.
Keeping your operations running when there is a disruption. Or during such planned outages like planned maintenance or scheduled backups is possible thanks to continuous operations.
As such, you cannot afford to overlook the importance of adopting a BCP if you want to avoid losses, among other effects of the unexpected, on your daily company activities. Here are steps to implementing a BCP.
Steps to Implementing a Business Continuity Plan
1. Conduct an Assessment of Mission-Critical Data
Assessing your current status is the first step towards implementing a BCP. The reason is that business continuance as a well-thought-out and executed data recovery plan can make or break your enterprise. In that case, you need to begin with the following steps if you want to develop a successful backup and disaster recovery strategy.
Sparing time to interview such key individuals like employees, top-level directors, team leaders, as well as managers is a wise idea. Doing so will help you identify mission-critical data. You also need to analyze all industry-specific proprietary software, email systems, accounting systems, as well as web data to determine the value of each to your entity in case you lose them forever or if they become temporarily unavailable.
The next thing you need to do is determine tolerance to loss of data and downtime if you experience loss, temporary downtime, or complete failure, which will demand data re-creation. You can achieve that by performing a cost-benefit analysis. You also need to make difficult decisions about data relevancy. Including regulatory provisions as well as the associated cost of ownership.
In addition to providing peace of mind and security, you also need to identify viable solutions within your budget range. The aspects you need to determine, in this case, include redundancy of data backup solutions, downtime, as well as restoration time.
2. Develop a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Policy
The next step is developing a policy to address ongoing scheduled operating images and continuous data backup to avoid a disaster. Note that planning accordingly is a necessity since some businesses cannot afford a disaster of any kind. So, your business continuity and disaster recovery policy should be effective in the following areas.
a) Proactive Remote Monitoring
The effectiveness of a disaster recovery plan depends on its last successful restoration. As such, continuous monitoring will ensure there are no underlying issues while testing at regular intervals. That allows you to affirm the integrity of your system, which comes in handy at this point.
b) Data Recovery for Service and System Failures
Getting daily or weekly scheduled updates of the critical systems to either a USB device or local network-attached storage (NAS) is critical. You can then replicate the information to an off-site location.
c) Restoration of Mission-Critical Data
Restoring mission-critical data with the most recent changes available within the shortest time possible is paramount. You can create easy restoration points for user file shares, Exchange, Active Directory, and SQL using a WAN-based or LAN hard drive appliance with a built-in RAID array offering continuous data protection.
3. Create a Strategic Implementation Plan
Starting with a risk-based analysis, formulate a strategic implementation plan to determine the level of risk versus the capital investments your firm is willing to make to promote viability. Note that an assessment of communications infrastructure, on-site vs. off-site investments, the quantity of data, and downtime tolerance will shed light on where you should direct your expenditures on a reliable system.
4. Execute the Plan
Once you go through each of the steps above, you will be ready to execute your business continuity plan. It is also worth mentioning that continuous monitoring and testing of your system is necessary. The reason is that wargaming and test restorations allow you to prepare for recovery. Also, changing your procedures, policy, and plan periodically as your system grows is critical, and that is why an annual evaluation is a necessity.
According to the details herein, the main areas of focus when implementing a business continuity plan are planning, analysis, as well as evaluation.
In that case, partnering with hosted and off-site solutions that provide fault-tolerance and enterprise-grade support at the right price is advisable. That way, you will have peace of mind because you are assured that your critical data and systems will receive the necessary attention from the right professionals. If you need help implementing a business continuity plan, contact us today!