Having a business continuity plan ahead of time can minimise damage and interruption when disaster hits, ensuring that things continue as usual as soon as possible.
For many organisations, effective IT solutions will be key to business continuity. With this in mind, here are five steps to ensuring effective business continuity.
Have a continuity plan
While it sounds obvious, some organisations will simply not have dedicated the time to doing this first, basic step.
Start by creating a list of potential threats that are most likely to disrupt your business operations. Consider all types of threats, including technical, natural and human. Try to think at all scales of disaster – from a building fire to a dripping pipe over your server to a large-scale cyber attack. And consider disasters that will impact you over the long and short term.
Once you have identified them, determine how they would affect your business operations. This will give you a clear picture of what your organisation can and can’t survive without when a disaster occurs and how much downtime it can withstand.
Once you understand the threats and the risks they pose to your business, start working on a continuity plan. You will need to determine how to minimise interruptions, how to recover from them and what kind of resources you will require to continue working from another location.
Set up in advance
The key to reducing downtime is carrying out parts of the recovery process in advance. Doing this will leave you with less to think about when disaster hits. For example, make sure you have suitable backups for your requirements. Not all backup services are the same and depending on your disaster it could be the difference between recovery taking hours or days.
Make your plan accessible
A business continuity plan will do you no good if you cannot access it during a disaster. Saving it to your computer or office server is not enough as these areas may become inaccessible. A cloud-hosted company intranet is an ideal place if all staff can access it remotely and they know where to look.
Test your continuity plan
The only way to determine if your plan will work is if you test it. Carry out a full recovery exercise, using generic threats to see how well it works. See if staff can use their IT to work from home and access your data remotely. Can you still hold meetings? Does everyone know who to report to? Periodically simulating a crisis event will help you master the plan and increase your preparedness for the future.
Review your continuity plan regularly
Reviewing your plan every so often allows you to keep it up to date with any changes that might have occurred. To save money and time, focus on the areas of your businesses that are constantly changing (eg. have new users been trained in continuity plans, is new IT equipment configured to work remotely?). Remember to check areas that are directly affected by changes in another department.
To discuss creating or improving your IT business continuity plan, get in touch: