As our Business Continuity series ends, we look at everything we covered during the past few months.
We started with an introduction to business continuity, discussing the most vital aspects – business continuity planning (BCP) and management. Then, we looked at several forms of unplanned events and emergencies that could affect the continuity of a business. We discussed the aspects that needed to be taken into consideration to ensure that all crucial issues have been provided for. All core functions need to remain uninterrupted in the event of an unplanned event or emergency. Then we delved deeper, and spoke about the utmost importance of BCP in a business – covering a multitude of benefits, ranging from data protection and disaster recovery to quality control, organisational insurance, and many more.
In our last blog, we explained how to conduct a business impact analysis (BIA), which is the first step of drafting a business continuity plan. To reiterate – A BIA is a process of predicting, determining, and evaluating the potential impact and consequences of unplanned disruptions/disasters affecting your company’s systems and processes. It assesses which areas are vulnerable and where potential losses may occur.
Today, we go through the necessary steps when drafting your BCP to ensure maximum productivity and peace of mind, knowing that you have all the required arrangements in place if disaster strikes.
Conduct a business impact analysis
It is of paramount importance to be aware of which areas in your company are the most vulnerable in an emergency, such as high-risk areas, functions, processes, personnel, etc. This leaves no room for compromise and can calculate the loss or impact on your company in the event of unplanned downtime.
From your BIA findings and calculations, you can accurately predict which operations are critical in your company and need to be reinstated ASAP. You will also be able to project a sustainable amount of downtime and bearable losses related to revenue. This information is essential to be able to start plotting your BCP.
Create a backup and recovery strategy
In an unplanned emergency, disaster may strike in several forms – damaged equipment, loss of connectivity, uninhabitable premises, disruption in communications, etc. Each disruption to your routine impacts and contributes towards possible revenue loss. Therefore, recovery strategies function as the backbone of your BCP, providing alternate means to restoring critical business operations identified as priorities in your BIA.
Recovery strategies cover several areas in a company, such as resources and materials, facilities, staff, and IT (such as your business and customer information, sensitive data, and management of online processes relevant to your company). Therefore, it is essential to analyse and predict which resources will be necessary to close or secure any operational gaps between your current capabilities and your recovery requirements.
Develop your framework
Once you have identified your unique areas of risk, calculated manageable downtimes, and implemented strategies to provide backup and support regarding critical functions, you can start developing your formal business continuity framework. A BC framework consists of all the necessary documents housing your emergency plan, acting as proper procedural guidance to prevent, prepare, manage, respond, and recover a business from any unplanned event that may occur. The framework should include:
- Business continuity teams
Every company needs a team dedicated to the handling of all BC aspects. These include:
- keeping all BCP documents relevant and up to date;
- testing and ensuring the efficiency of the BCP; and
- activating and managing all BCP plans and protocols in the event of an unplanned event.
The team can be hand-picked based on their position in the company, with every member managing their crucial role and responsibilities.
- Relocation options
If your premises become unusable or inaccessible, you need to plan and ensure that you have alternative, temporary options for a base of operations.
- IT backups
Your company data is one of the most sensitive and vital aspects of a company. Therefore, it is critical to ensure that all information is backed up – not only physically (in the form of alternative hardware) but online as well (backing up your personal data and network infrastructure via online cloud methods). It is necessary to maintain your servers and data in the case of a disruption to your usual IT solutions.
- Document alternative processes
Your research and analytics grant you the ability to plan around emergencies and have the necessary steps, protocols, and procedures in place as workarounds until normal business operations can resume. These procedures need to be documented step-by-step for personnel to be fully aware of what needs to be done in an emergency.
- Secure all third-party necessities
You may need extra help to get back up and running after an unplanned event or help with maintaining your core functionalities to keep your business functioning. Make sure that you have a list of third parties that can be used if the need arises.
Implement your BCP
Your BCP should be complete at this stage and ready to implement in your company. This includes familiarising and training all departments and employees regarding any processes and responsibilities they are involved in. Hard copies of the formal BCP need to be maintained for all staff members to access, and all IT-related assets and systems need to be reviewed and managed to ensure that everything is up to date.
Testing and exercises
Keeping your BCP up to date and relevant to your company is essential. Your BCP is custom-planned to help your company in the event of an emergency, and all data should be accurate if an unplanned event occurs. You can run mock exercises to test the efficiency of your protocols, update your BCP if necessary, and get employees and staff members comfortable and proficient with the procedures that are in place.
We hope that we have been able to help you with creating your custom business continuity plan, giving you peace of mind to know that your business is covered in emergencies and unplanned events.