Every business needs a continuity plan (BCP) so that if their business is forced to deal with problems that arise for any reason, that they have a working plan to get the business back up and operating as intended quickly. It’s one thing to have it all written down on paper, outlining how things are supposed to go, and quite another thing to have a working strategy when faced with operational interruptions. Today, we’ll go through some of the basics of business continuity to help you understand all that goes into a successful plan.
The first thing that you need to know is that there are many examples of failed businesses due to a lack of continuity strategy. That alone should peak your interest, but there is more. Business continuity means just that, and sometimes there is something innocuous that knocks your business off schedule. Having a plan helps you avoid confusion, which in normal situations isn’t great, but when operations are down can be extremely bad.
What Should Your Plan Include?
To most people, a flood hitting their place of business isn’t the same as having an employee or co-worker accidentally delete an important file. How could they? They are two completely different situations, right? Not so fast. When concocting a continuity strategy for your business, these two completely unrelated situations are functionally the same. Any situation that threatens your business’ operational integrity needs to be planned for, even if the downtime you experience is measured in minutes rather than hours or days.
Here are some crucial elements your business continuity plan should include:
- Organizational lists - A list of names, addresses, and contact information of people who have access to the continuity plan. This includes making up primary and secondary contact lists for all affected areas of your business.
- Staff responsibilities - Each primary and secondary contact will have a set of responsibilities that they need to carry out.
- Any off-site recovery locations - You’ll need to include the address, equipment inventory, and any other relevant information.
- Your action plan - This is an in-depth process for returning every element of your business to satisfactory functionality. You need plans for the first hour, the first day, the first week, and for long-term disruption.
- Primary and alternate suppliers - This is a list of all your current and backup suppliers. Vendors typically play a big role in returning your business to normal.
- Customer data - You’ll need a process to inform clients that have personal, financial, or other sensitive information stored with you. This plan will go a long way toward helping you retain your clientele once continuity is restored.
- All relevant documentation and insurance policy information - Keeping accurate records will help the insurance process if a claim needs to be filed.
- Technology inventory - What technology requirements does your company need in order to retain continuity? Here you will want to create contingencies for remote work, failover, and more.
- Data redundancy - You will need to identify the details of your data backup system to ensure that all of your digital assets are backed up and can quickly be restored.
While this is a basic list of what a company needs in their business continuity plan, larger businesses with more moving parts will have more in-depth continuity plans. You will want to consistently review and update information that you deem necessary for your plan. The good rule of thumb is that two times annually you will want to update your plan. Keeping on top of these updates will go a long way toward getting you back up and going after a breach in continuity.
Moreover, you will want to test the parts of your BCP that you can test. Ensuring your backup system is working as intended, making sure you have a complete inventory of your hardware and software needs, and making absolutely sure that whatever is in your plan, that it works to get operations working functionally after a downtime incident.
Operational downtime can happen in any part of your business. It can happen as a result of faulty IT, interruptions in your supply chain, or situations where your human resources are unavailable. Call the business IT experts at JensenIT today at (847) 803-0044 to help you put together a business continuity plan that works.