What are we talking about when we say “business continuity”? Business continuity is defined as the capability of an organization to continue delivery of products or services at acceptable predefined levels following a disruptive incident. It’s not something implemented at the time of a disaster – instead, it’s those activities businesses perform daily to maintain expected levels of service, consistency and recoverability.
Today, this concept is of the utmost importance. We are in the digital age, meaning there are simply more possible points of failure for businesses. It’s important to be prepared for any situation. By implementing a business continuity plan, you’re planning ahead.
How is it different from disaster recovery?
Though we often see the topics of business continuity and disaster recovery paired together, they are not one and the same. Disaster recovery is the process, policies, procedures and preparations implemented to protect IT technology, infrastructure and data in the event of a disaster. It also ensures the recovery of data, and the continuation of mission-critical network services that are vital to an organization’s business continuity. Disaster recovery kicks in when the disaster hits, and is therefore reactive.
Business continuity, on the other hand, is proactive and runs in real time. It ensures that critical functions and operations continue in spite of a disaster, and allows businesses to continue running with extremely minimal interruptions. The ultimate goal of business continuity is for a business to experience no downtime, thanks to preparedness.
The combination of business continuity and disaster recovery plans creates a strong, stable environment that helps a business experience minimal to no downtime in an emergency situation.
How do you develop a business continuity plan?
As much as all businesses would love to say, “It’ll never happen to us,” that’s just not realistic. It’s important to have a plan in place to ensure your business remains stable and able to generate profits. While it’s no fun focusing on the negatives, it’s certainly worth it in the long run. Developing a plan forces a business’ leaders to think about weaknesses of and threats facing their company – and ultimately, prepares them to deal with these situations.
Here are some things to consider when developing a business continuity plan:
- What might your business face, other than disasters? Consider power outages, confidential information leaks, transport failures, etc.
- Which people and processes will handle an unplanned event affecting your business?
- How will you alert your employees and customers to a disaster or other critical situation?
- Will your business continuity plan tie into a disaster recovery plan? Have you ensured that these plans are effective?
- If you’re forced to work from a temporary location, where would that be, and how would it work?
- How will you address your employees in these situations? How can they continue working, communicating and sharing information?
- What will you do if there is a sudden change in the chain of command?
- What are the long-term strategies your business needs to ensure stability and profitability?
In these situations, you don’t want your business to lose sales or experience a ruined reputation. Having a business continuity plan in place can actually help enhance your reputation, as it shows you are prepared and realistic.
Too many businesses today that suffer data loss or extended outages go out of business because they are unprepared. 43% of businesses that experience a disaster never reopen. This can be fixed with a business continuity plan, which forces businesses to envision how they can satisfy customers, employees, stakeholders and business needs if an incident occurs.