Expecting the unexpected: What constitutes a good business continuity plan

Expecting the unexpected: What constitutes a good business continuity plan

A good businessman is like a Boy Scout -- ready for anything. That includes making plans in case your business is interrupted by forces beyond your control.

Natural and man-made catastrophes can inflict extensive damage on businesses. In 2017 alone, there were $144 billion worth of insurance claims, with $138.1 billion due to natural catastrophes and $6.2 billion to man-made disasters. In 2016, U.S. losses were at $21.7 billion, mostly due to hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfire.

You need a business continuity plan that allows your company to prevent (or minimize) losses and recover quickly, should a catastrophe strike.

Here are some basic steps to follow when drafting your business continuity plan:

  1. Analyze your business. Conduct a business impact analysis (BIA) to identify which of your existing business functions and resources are the most time-sensitive and crucial. It should also quantify the costs of various disruptions to your business. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a helpful worksheet your managers can use to conduct the analysis.
  2. Formulate strategies. Form a business continuity team to come up with strategies, directions, and options for your company. Strategies to consider may include partnering with third parties, telecommuting, or making reciprocal agreements with other businesses.
  3. Develop a plan. The team should be able to come up with a framework, formalize procedures and write them out, secure approvals, and ultimately put the plan in place.
  4. Test the plan again and again. A plan may look good on paper but it doesn't mean a thing until it's been tested. Regular assessments ensure that the continuity plan is always updated, with the kinks ironed out.

The importance of information technology (IT)

Companies rely heavily on computers, wireless devices, networks, and servers to create, process, manage, and communicate information quickly and efficiently. IT is so crucial to businesses these days that companies need to ensure their security, safety, and recovery in case of disruption.

Security: Keep your data protected

A business continuity plan should make sure your company’s information is secure from unauthorized access, destruction, or loss. This includes intentional threats (such as spyware, malware, etc.) as well as unintentional errors (like deleting files by mistake).

Safety: The 3-2-1 data backup plan

The importance of data backups cannot be emphasized enough. And with cloud technology, disaster-proof backups are as simple as 3-2-1: Every file your business creates should have at least 3 copies, stored on at least 2 different types of media, with at least 1 copy located somewhere other than your office. Ideally, backups will be stored offline (using large storage tapes, cartridges, or external drives) and in the cloud.

Recovery: Time is of the essence

When conducting your business impact analysis, it is important to identify both the recovery time objective (RTO) and the recovery point objective (RPO). The former is how much IT downtime your company can handle, while the latter measures (in hours) how recent your backups should be to avert major losses. The faster the recovery, the less damages to your company.

A good business continuity plan may sound complicated now, but it is absolutely essential for your company’s future survival. We at Online Computers have the expertise and the experience needed to ensure that your business will still thrive even when disaster strikes. For the best business continuity and customer service in Northern New Jersey, contact us today. Or if you want to know more about our managed services model, download our free eBook!