Business continuity planning or disaster recovery sounds a little overdramatic but we all need to plan for disruptions. Not necessarily an asteroid crashing into Earth scale problem but more like an IT disruption through cyber attack, environmental and natural disasters like floods, fires, wind can all impact on Business.
The recent arrival of a Pandemic has been difficult for businesses Worldwide. Many businesses have closed to protect people's health and forced workers to work from home. Has it made you realise how you need to have a plan in place for next time? I promise it's not just you!
In brief, a continuity plan is about being prepared for business disruptions due to uncontrollable internal or external events.
Document a process and overall strategy to guide the business and employees through disruptions. Plan for how you will continue to operate, communicate effectively and how you can continue to be productive.
Rarely do you get advance notice of these disasters that are round the corner so planning is key? Planning enables businesses to carry on in difficult situations rather than stop totally. Every incident is a unique and varying scale of disruption.
The best way for success is prevention, then a well thought out a business continuity plan. Looking at all potential threats to a company can be daunting but a necessity for a business to continue.
Knowledge is so important with a detailed outline of procedures and detailed instructions.
So what should you plan for? Well, the simple answer is as much as possible. Think about documenting business processes, important assets and equipment, employees skills and roles, core business partners knowledge and much more.
For example, how would you cope if one of the main members of your team who plays an important intrinsic part of the business success is hit by a bus or Bus Factor planning? Sounds awful but it can happen but can you carry on without that person? Who would take over that role temporarily? Is everything within the role documented for future reference?
Example two, cyber security attack. Do you have backups? Where are they held? Who is responsible for restoring the IT infrastructure? What is the process needed to get everything back up and running? What is the emergency process employees need to follow in case of a security attack?
Example three, global pandemic? How would your business adapt? This becomes scary as we are all trying to work through this situation currently. How can staff continue from home? Are staff working from home successfully? Are they being productive and knowing what they should be doing? How are you communicating with each other?
So many questions, so many what-ifs, but plans need to be in place to help business survival.
There are many different departments that make a company function and play an important role in overall success.
How would you get sales up and running again so the company can continue to make money straight after the disaster? How would manufacturing start again?
Consider what financial and non-financial impact disasters have on the business. Think about carrying out a business impact analysis (BIA) which is an important part of your BC plan. Identify every process within the business and work out what potential impact it would have if one or more of those processes fail or are disrupted.
Assess all business processes and determine vulnerable areas and potential disruption and losses that could be caused by this failing for a day, a few days, a week or even a month. Scary.
What areas do you need to get up and running and what could potentially be outsourced so the focus can be placed on core elements.
Checklists are a great business continuity planning tool that offers the ability to document the way something should run with guidance from the person with the most knowledge in that area. Offering a reference library for your business processes, supply chain, equipment, data backups, and key people who are aware of the plan and have full access.
These checklists shouldn't be in the form of paper in folders stored in filing cabinets but should be in some sort of cloud service solution which would not be damaged by a disaster onsite. (Astroid excluding)
Documenting processes allows you to have a manual of how your business runs.
BPM or Business process management is a way to document all your business processes which can be used day today to get the best possible results every time and part of a disaster recovery plan.
Many businesses tend to have a process library filed away somewhere or in spreadsheets or word docs. But is it somewhere safe from disaster? Is it easily found and regularly updated?
If you feel the task of documenting your business processes is too big a project, maybe think about doing it another way. Yes, it is a big project and can be a little boring if we are honest but processes tend to be a key part of business success. The value of that business knowledge can be harnessed to increase productivity as well as a continuity plan.
Why not document them to be used all the time? Do all members of staff know how to do a task the best way every time, in the correct order? Can new team members just follow checklists with guides to allow them to step into their new role easily? Allocating tasks to the best person for the job? While helping plan workflow better.
Documented processes can be used in daily work life. Leverage the power of business knowledge.
Why use a cloud service not just an external hard drive and pop it into a safe? Cloud services offer site backup and potentially in another part of the World.
SAAS companies like Checkify base products and services around the power of Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud or Amazon AWS to offer huge processing power and give you secure off site backup. Whilst offering high availability across the Globe as data centres are throughout the World thus spreading the risk.
Utilising this type of cloud solution for your business continuity planning documents give you the greatest security and backup.
Many businesses have now realised that they don't have a business continuity plan after we have all had this huge wake-up call with Covid 19 Novel Coronavirus.
Handling incidents effectively can have a positive effect on your reputation and increase customer confidence.
The key part of the plan should be testing that the plan truly works. A controlled testing strategy is an opportunity to identify and review areas that fail and implement improvements.
Your company's future depends on your staff being able to work and important processes documented so you can continue and recover.
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