January 17, 2022 Posted by Pocketstop in Business Continuity, Other Social Share
Business continuity and disaster recovery could be the two most vital operations to the future of your business. A natural disaster — or even a human-induced one — can bring down everything you worked for, and can also endanger lives and cause damage. Get in front of a crisis with a business continuity and disaster recovery plan and increase the survival chances of your business.
Let’s drill down to get a better understanding of its definitions and practicing.
What is business continuity and disaster recovery?
It’s a series of processes that help your business recover from a disaster or emergency and then allow you to continue on with regular business operations. A lot of the best practices concern your Information Technology (IT) department so that the digital side of your business can continue with minimal or even no interruptions. The goal: to keep on keeping on, no matter what emergency or disaster may get in the way of your day-to-day business.
Think of it this way: how will your business handle and cope with an emergency? And how will it continue on without barely missing a step?
What is the difference between business continuity and disaster recovery?
It’s one title and one general idea, but actually consists of two parts: 1) business continuity and 2) disaster recovery. One way to look at it is that business continuity is more macro, focusing on your business as a whole, while disaster recovery is mainly focused on your IT department.
- Business continuity: this is where you plan — in advance — how to respond to business interruptions caused by emergencies and disasters. The goal is to continue as “business as usual” as best you can, despite the circumstances. You’re planning for this in advance, thinking of your employees, physical location(s), clients, partners, customers and vendors. You’ll also consider your IT infrastructure, but more on that in the second part of this strategy (below).
- Disaster recovery: is actually a part of your business continuity plan. It’s here where you prepare for your recovery of your technology infrastructure, which will mean everything to the future of your business. It’s all about restoration, minimizing downtime, and reducing impact. You’re ultimate goal is to be back up and running as quickly as possible with no or little vital data lost.
Think of it this way: in the event of an emergency, your business continuity plan focuses on how your business operations will survive and move forward (despite the worst circumstances), and a disaster recover plan focuses on getting your technical, software and application systems working and back to normal.
How are the two connected?
They may seem like two separate concerns, but there is true synergy here. Having one without the other would not work, and both are equally urgent. They need to work together. So if your most critical business functions continue to work in the midst of an emergency or disaster, your IT infrastructure should be strong and unstoppable so that the work goes on, even after the crisis is over.
What type of disasters and emergencies you should consider
Here’s a general checklist (your industry or location might merit others):
- Active shooter
- Ransomeware attack or hacking
- Bomb threat
- Severe weather
What could happen as a result of these events:
- Property damage
- Bad publicity or damage to your company’s image
- Work stoppage
- Damage to your computer systems and software
- Damage to your social media
How the plan will benefit you and your business
Especially if your plan is created, solidified and ready-to-go in advance, you’ll likely to benefit on various levels:
- Peace of mind among your staff
- Sharper strategies that put you in control
- Implementing best practices for risk management
How to create your plan
- List your organization’s risks. What could possibly go wrong? Be specific. Don’t be afraid to get creative while imagining worst-case scenarios. Be sure to include natural disasters (earthquake, flood, fire) as well as human-caused disasters (active shooters, website/social media hacking). If you run out of ideas, ask for help from people you trust so that you don’t miss any potentially damaging situation.
- With each situation, think of the ways you can recover. Here’s where you think of solutions, or at the very least, coping strategies. Invite in people you trust to help you brainstorm. Assemble a team that could go into action when the emergency or disaster occurs. Be sure to find alternative communication strategies that may allow you to interact with your people when normal channels are down. Keep in mind that you should include first aid and an evacuation plan in your strategy. Identify local hospitals, police and fire stations. Consider escape routes and alternate escape routes. Have your staff’s contact info in advance, and keep that list accurate and up to date. Investigate having an electric generator on the premises.
- Check your insurance policies in advance. What are you covered for? You may be surprised to learn what is not covered in your policy. Be sure in advance what you will be able to claim after an emergency or disaster occurs.
- Put your plan into action. Make your strategies official by putting them in writing, including step-by-step directions for each potential situations. Assign roles and responsibilities to your staff and make sure everybody knows in advance what needs to be done and when. Make sure your plan is clear, with short sentences that are easy to read and follow. Keep your information within a specific outline format so it’s easy to follow in the heat of the moment.
- Test, rehearse and evaluate your plan. After you complete your plan, it’s time to put it into action. Test it, rehearse it, consider what can be changed, improved or refined. Make sure your plan is reviewed and drilled on a regular basis. Have post-drill review sessions and listen to everybody’s feedback. How to test: schedule walkthroughs through your building with your plan in consideration, simulate an emergency (like a fire drill) and evaluate your staff’s performance or problems. Ask your IT professionals to perform a test to see how your systems would stand up to an emergency event. Make sure you have a strong backup/secondary system to take over in the event that your primary system fails.
Your business continuity and disaster recovery plan should be a vital part of your overall business plan. Proactive steps to avoid or minimize business stoppage or slowdown will make a huge difference in your bottom line. Be sure to list all of the risks you can imagine happening, then create a plan and test and practice it. Be open to feedback and revision.
Indeed.com publishes an effective and comprehensive guide to creating your business continuity and disaster recovery plan. Click here.
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