What Is A Business Continuity Plan? Disasters & More
Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2019, but has been updated to reflect the latest information.
A quick internet search will show that a staggering number of businesses, reportedly 60 percent, fail within one year of a cyber attack.
While they can happen at any moment, the impact of unexpected crises can be minimized and mitigated through careful planning, but where do you begin and what should you include in a business continuity plan?
In this article, we'll explore what business continuity is, the risks that could impact your business, and the crucial elements all business continuity plans should include.
After reading this article, you'll know what to include in a business continuity plan so you can mitigate the impact of potential crises.
At Kelser, we are committed to providing all of the information business leaders like you need to keep your data safe. One of the ways we do that is by publishing informative blog articles that address key technology concerns like business continuity.
What Is Business Continuity?
Business continuity is an organization's ability to continue or resume operations during or after a disaster.
From hurricanes to absent personnel, all organizations must have a plan to deal with unexpected problems and difficult situations, to remain operational with as little disruption as possible.
What Kinds Of Disruptions Can Happen?Several types of potential disruptions could befall your business:
Tornadoes, floods, fires, and blizzards are just a few of the calamities that can take your business temporarily or permanently out of commission.
While many of these attacks are carried out by external forces, others can be the result of attackers within your organization.
With a business continuity plan, you'll be able to confidently move forward despite staff shortages.
Accidents & Errors
In fact, human error is cited as the cause of a majority of cyber attacks. Statistics range from 60 to 95 percent, but it's clear that human error is a major contributor.
A strong business continuity plan will address all of these disruptions and more.
Get Started On Creating A Business Continuity Plan
The impact of disasters and downtime isn't limited to their immediate aftermath. If the disruption is noticeable to customers and investors, it can cause them to lose confidence in your business. These negative effects on your reputation may take you a long time to recover from.
In order to prepare for and mitigate potential damage, create (and test) a business continuity plan. Here are the first three steps:
1. Identify Potential Threats
While natural disasters threaten every business, there may also be specific risks inherent to your business. Understanding your true risk and potential threats is the first step in being able to defend against them.
2. Determine How Each Threat Would Impact Operations
Each threat could affect different segments of your business.
They could have different effects. Some could cause a total shutdown, while others could slow operations to a crawl.
Understand the true danger each threat poses, so you can make plans to effectively address each one.
3. Identify Critical Processes and Applications
Know your most critical processes and applications. How would they be affected if disaster strikes?
What To Include In Business Continuity Plans
Your business continuity plan should include:
1. IT Recovery
Focus on the recovery of your software, hardware, and technology, including how you will restore critical IT applications and systems. Include a robust strategy for data recovery and protection.
Related article: 10 Steps To Include In Your IT Disaster Recovery Plan
2. Business Recovery
Ensure that critical business processes can be restored in the event of an emergency, and include some temporary workarounds. For example, you could rely on temp agencies or outsourcing in the event of staff shortages, or use a temporary office space if a natural disaster strikes your headquarters.
3. Regular Reviews
Your technology and business environment will change over time.
Make sure you regularly review your organization’s business continuity plans for gaps and areas that need improvement.
Comprehensive reviews are essential to ensure that your data is secure and recoverable. Like with most IT and cybersecurity policies and plans, you should review this at least annually.
Someone must own each step in the business continuity process.
Who creates your backup policies? Who signs off on them? Who decides what information needs to be copied, and how frequently? Who actually monitors the backup process? If you need to restore your data, who do you call first?
Identify a key process owner and a backup for each. Disasters won’t wait for everyone to be in the office, so make sure you are prepared.
Never assume that everything will work as expected. Test your business continuity plan regularly to make sure it works and that you will be able to restore operations quickly and effectively in the event of an incident.
By preparing well before a disaster, you can minimize the potential impact and downtime. Start simple, making sure the basic structure of the plan is sound.
Next, simulate potential problems to see how your system reacts.
Build up to performing a full restoration so you can identify potential hardware malfunctions, corruption in the data, or maintenance issues.
Before a crisis hits, run through a complete trial restoration of your items. Did everything restore properly?
Address gaps proactively.
What's The Bottom Line?
Business continuity is crucial for any organization, but especially for small and medium-sized businesses. A robust business continuity plan is essential to keep your organization functional in the event of a disaster or other unexpected event.
After reading this article, you have a complete understanding of business continuity. You know what business continuity is and the kinds of disruptions businesses face.
You know the first steps to take when creating a business continuity plan: identify potential threats, determine how each threat would impact operations, and identify critical processes and applications.
And you know what to include in business continuity plans: IT recovery, business recovery, regular reviews, ownership, and testing.
At Kelser, we are committed to providing the information that business leaders need to keep their organization's and data safe. From security to firewall technology and everything in between, we provide honest, straightforward information you can use.
Does your business have all the tools and backups you need to keep your data protected and your organization up and running? Not sure? Click the button below and download the free cybersecurity eBook to learn 10 steps to take today and put in place all of the tools you need to help secure your data.