More and more businesses are recognising the importance of business continuity planning (BCP). Rather than simply waiting for disaster to strike and formulating an off-the-cuff response, the most reliable businesses are putting strategies in place to handle disruptive events with greater efficiency. Business continuity planning helps firms to better respond to, and recover from, the unexpected.
However, the sheer breadth of disruptive events that could potentially hit your business, ranging from natural disasters to data centre fires, means that continuity planning is a complex process, and one that comes with a number of its own challenges. How companies overcome these challenges to provide customers with a reliable and trustworthy service is likely to play a significant role in any future business success.
The initial steps to effective BCP
The first step towards effective business continuity planning is understanding the reasons for implementing it. Some firms may introduce BCP simply as a way of meeting auditing or regulatory standards, but this is unlikely to provide the most robust form of risk prevention or management. In order to ensure that your business processes are protected against a wide variety of threats, continuity planning should go beyond simply meeting minimum expectations.
In order to implement reliable BCP, IT leaders must have a detailed and thorough knowledge of their own business, supported by accurate statistics. One of the best ways of ensuring this is by carrying out a business impact analysis (BIA). This will allow organisations to answer a number of questions that will prove vital in the event of business disruption: How long can the business afford to be without its critical processes? Are some processes more vital than others? Which members of staff have the knowledge to help bring these processes back online?
It’s important that businesses impact analyses are as precise as possible. For example, by highlighting the financial damage caused for every minute that your sales processes remain inactive, corporations can determine exactly how long they can afford to take in bringing them back online. Organisations should also try to put a figure against longer term reputational damage caused by disruptive events, which could harm their finances for years to come.
Investing in the right tools
Part of an effective business continuity plan is ensuring that your security systems are as up to date as possible. When it comes to threat prevention, companies must understand that the cyberattack landscape is constantly evolving and their security resources must respond in kind. Understanding the growth of cloud computing and mobile technology in the workplace should also be considered when implementing a modern approach to business continuity.
Organisations may also want to consider outsourcing their continuity planning to a third-party cloud vendor. Like many other business operations, continuity planning as a service (CPaaS), or continuity management, can offer a number of benefits when compared to carrying out the same approach internally. As well as financial advantages, cloud-based continuity planning can make data recovery more seamless. Dedicated cloud providers may also have more resources to carry out regularly testing and ensure that best practices are ingrained within the latest technologies.
Although it can be difficult convincing c-level executives to invest in business continuity planning, particularly when things are going well, it only takes one major disruptive event to significantly damage your company’s reputation and finances. For that reason, whether you use a cloud provider or in-house resources, it’s important that business continuity challenges are faced head on to ensure your organisation is as well prepared as it possibly can be.