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5 Steps to Create a Business Continuity Plan

Best Practice for Business Continuity Plan

There’s rarely any forewarning when a disaster is set to strike.

And even when there is, there’s usually very little time to prepare as every unique incident can impact your business in different ways.

Step forward the business continuity plan. In order to prepare your organisation for the worst case scenario, it pays to put a recovery plan in place to ensure its survival.

Not having a disaster recovery plan in place leaves your business exposed to reputation, revenue and productivity loss. But not only that, depending on the incident, it could lead to your company going completely out of business.

This doesn’t just affect the global enterprises. Every organisations needs to ensure that they have the contingencies in place to react to a critical incident.

But first, what is a business continuity plan?

Quite simply, a business continuity plan aims to keep operations moving in the event of a critical incident or emergency by establishing a set of procedures.

From a hurricane causing mass damage to a security breach, your business needs to be prepared. A good business continuity plan maps out how a company can maintain business operations or quickly get back on its feet after a major disruption.

1. Brainstorm Your Business Continuity Strategy

Business continuity is not a checklist, it’s a process. Do not skip or miss out this part as it’s vital to assessing risk and developing mitigation strategies.

Look at your operational workflows and decides what areas are the most vulnerable. Consider the smallest disturbance to a wide scale disaster.

What are the potential losses and how long could systems be down for without causing too much damage?

List the following:

  1. What are your key business functions?
  2. What are the crucial departments for continuity?
  3. What dependencies exist between business areas?
  4. How long could the function be absent from the business?
  5. How could you maintain operations without that department?

Next, identify what types of events could happen to each of your business functions.

2. Get Internal Buy-in

Once you have your continuity plan mapped out, it’s time to involve your internal stakeholders.

It is vital that managers and employees understand that a business continuity plan is an investment that you hope to not trigger. If an incident strikes and you’re not prepared, the consequences could be greater.

Forrester Research reported that the average cost of a critical event could cost more than $1.5 million. Informing stakeholders of the sheer potential losses is one way to get them to sit up and take notice.

Also appreciate that when implementing your rapid response plan for the business, it will be a massive culture shift for the organisation. Therefore ensure the deployment is broken down into stages and everyone is aware and understands the plan before moving onto the next stage.

Ensure the information is short, concise and free of jargon. In an emergency, no one has time to read a massive document.

3. Test Your BCP

Documenting your incident management plan and rolling it out is just the first stages.

You now need to test it.

Through drills and practicing implementing your plan, this is the only way to spot unexpected issues and gaps in its implementation.

A Symantec study reported that 22% of businesses have never tested their continuity plan. Ensure you aim to test your plan to ensure it meets its intended purpose at least once every three months. Remember, the future of your business may count on it.

4. Integrate Mobile Alerting

Implement mobile within your business continuity plan.

The reach of mobile is ubiquitous, and by sending broadcast alerts via mobile messaging means you can alert people quickly and manage a critical incident safely.

BYOD is changing the way organisations work and employees are using their own devices within their operations.

Use templates for the different scenarios you identified and customise messages with incident specific information. Critical communications are now more seamless than ever before.

5. Automate Business Continuity

Manual processes only slow down responding to a crisis.

Through automation, you can alert the right people quickly. For example, when using mobile to co-ordinate an evacuation – request a response and automate an escalation if no response has been received after three attempts.

Furthermore automate errors from IT systems to first responders. If a system goes down, an alert can be sent from the system to the appropriate team of engineers to remedy the situation quickly.

Failover, recover and restore procedures should be automated.

Summary

It’s time to take business continuity planning serious. In 2012 AT&T reported that 86% of companies with over $25 million in revenue had a business continuity plan.

Therefore as more and more disasters strike, companies are adopting incident management plans to safeguard the operations and life of their organisations. Even just a few minutes of downtime could have disastrous effects on a business, resulting in a loss in revenue, a tarnished reputation and compliance implications.

New technologies and processes can pave the way for crisis communication in your business.

Learn how our mobile business continuity solution can be integrated within your preparedness plan to protect your business.

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