In our increasingly tech-driven world, connectivity is paramount. If a natural disaster were to cut power and wireline services to your building, would your business be able to continue operations, or would you need to shut down? Here are some tips to help you create a plan that ensures you have the resources needed for business and revenue continuity in the face of a natural disaster.
Analyzing Critical Elements
The first and most important step to creating a working Business Continuity Plan is identifying the processes that are imperative to your company’s continued operation. You need to know what your critical processes are, what possible alternatives could take their place in the event of a disaster, and, failing an appropriate alternative, how long your business can operate without them.
These dependencies should be properly outlined and labeled, and they need to be ranked by the urgency of their restoration. Once you know exactly what you need to operate your business, you can begin putting processes in place to act as backups in times of crisis.
At this point, a Business Impact Analysis will help you measure the impact that downtime will have on your business, the cost of that downtime, and the legal and/or compliance issues regarding keeping your data secure.
Establish step-by-step recovery plans
A Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) should be included in your Business Continuity Plan as a set of procedures that reduce downtime and focus on the most effective route to recover your critical information. One of the most important facets of your DRP is properly defining your recovery points. By aligning your backups with your business needs, you can make sure that your DRP prioritizes the data that is critical to your business functions in order to get you back on your feet that much quicker.
Disaster Recovery Plans take into account two major steps for tracking your downtime in the event of a disaster. Your Recovery Time Objective is the desired amount of time after a disaster occurs that full data restoration is achieved. Obviously, the quicker the better. The Maximum Tolerable Downtime represents the maximum amount of time that your critical information and services can remain unavailable before you begin to lose business or irreversible damage is done.
Update and Test Frequently
Without regular testing and constant updates, a business continuity plan can become outdated and leave you completely unprotected when you need it most. If you’ve taken the time to analyze the critical elements of your business, you need to keep your business continuity plan in mind when making any changes to those elements.
Say you upgrade your client databases to account for your company’s growth, but you forget that your data backup system is still configured with your old database in mind. In the event of an emergency that results in data loss, your upgraded system results in that data becoming unrecoverable.
With frequent updates and testing, you make sure that your business continuity plan stays current, relevant, and effective.
Keep an Eye on the Outside
You’ve identified your critical elements, you’ve set your downtime targets and established recovery plans and redundancies to meet them, and you’ve tested, updated and re-tested your process. Now you need to take note of the things that are beyond your control.
Inoperable e-commerce platforms, outside data-networks, 1-800 service failures, provider downtime – by understanding exactly what can grind your business to a halt, you can prepare alternatives to keep you afloat. No business is immune to problems, but by being well-prepared, you can help mitigate the damage caused by worst-case scenarios.