Business continuity plans are designed to help organizations resume business as usual following a disaster. It is an essential tool that can prevent business interruption and loss of revenue in the event of a power outage, computer failure, natural disaster, or other unforeseen events. An organization’s business contingency plan should include your response to any situation, from minor emergencies up to catastrophic disasters, so that you can maintain operations during any disruption.
Business continuity planning is not just about having a plan- it is also about periodically testing and practicing your technique. Organizations may need to change equipment, adjust staffing levels, or reevaluate the risk assessment process. It occurs if there are changes within the business environment, such as new data security strategies.
A business continuity plan, which can also be referred to as a business recovery or resumption plan, is created by business managers and operations personnel. The managers may team up with a computer and data security specialists to ensure that vital business operations continue despite any situation that can disrupt business processes.
Business continuity plans deal with business-wide threats and business-related risks. It defines the strategies that business managers will follow to maintain business operations orderly, including business process re-engineering or business process outsourcing as needed for the foreseeable future. It is documented over months before it can be considered adequate to protect against disruption.
A business continuity plan (BCP) is a crucial tool designed to help you respond more effectively and efficiently. Suppose an organization’s business faces a disruption such as fire, natural disaster, criminal activity, or even internal threats. Developing a BCP can help the organization ensure business survival, minimize business interruption and reduce business recovery time and costs. An introduction includes objectives and the scope of the business continuity plan.
It may include business recovery goals and sustainability objectives. The recovery goals are different for various critical business services, such as IT, where BCP may consist of business recovery from a total system failure. Organizational objectives determine the business continuity strategy of the organization.
The scope of your business continuity plan can be anything, as long as it is helping. For example, a business unit could be manufacturing. A function would be if someone were in charge of the plant supervisors at that particular company or location. The critical processes involved with this area make it an important part to keep running even during emergencies like power outages. They’re necessary for production and delivery to customers- namely, product design includes customer service services offered by those who aren’t members of any specific departments but still need certain skillsets. Hence, HR comes into work without electricity quickly since employees within their department might not have these skills required).
Business Continuity Strategy
The business continuity strategy refers to how business is conducted if business activities were interrupted and business operations are disrupted in any way, including man-made disasters, natural disasters, or catastrophic events that will affect organizations’ operations.
The BCM strategy will ensure Critical operations will be available in times of disruption, making it easier to maintain business operations, offer critical products and services, and ensure that the business meets its customer needs and service level objectives. It means the organization can provide customers with the following benefits:-Availability of critical products and services even if other parts of the infrastructure fail, which is one of the goals for any business continuity plan
-Certainty that critical parts function correctly, which enhances customer trust and delivers a competitive advantage.
Business function recovery priorities
The recovery point objective is what defines the business function recovery priorities identified through business impact analysis activity. The list of critical products and services was in place before the disruption to a business function and enabled recovery with the least amount of operational downtime.
After an event, the senior management should quickly ensure that key players understand their roles within the response organization. This part will inevitably require some delegation on behalf of management. Early post-event meetings may not produce complete solutions to all post-disaster issues, but they will help reduce uncertainty while building momentum for more effective problem-solving.
However, business continuity managers should be ready for emergency responders who don’t want or need any advice from centralized officials because they are experienced in handling disasters independently.
Relocation strategy and alternate business site
A “relocation strategy” is the process of moving company resources in anticipation of, or after, a business disruption, i.e., moving critical operations and personnel from one place to another. An alternative site is an alternative location that can accommodate some portion of the business’s ongoing operations.
The relocation strategy for a given organization depends on its needs and during disaster planning. It must consider several key factors such as anticipated disruptions to infrastructure (for example, power), physical security (is it safe?), transportation requirements for staff and visitors to get to and from the site.
In all cases, it will mean that most personnel will remote work until offices are operational again. Nevertheless, alternate sites may be desirable depending on reliable different telecommunications networks.
The alternate site may be contacted and validated before the occurrence of a disaster. It’s common for businesses in natural disasters zones to have relocation strategies and alternate locations to minimize disruption when disaster strikes.
Recovery plan phases:- disaster occurrence, plan activation, alternate site operations, transition to the primary site
In a Business Continuity Plan, recovery plan phases are comprised of the following set of functions:
-Disaster occurrence: In this phase, organizations will identify and analyze risks to their data, systems, and networks. There is also contingency planning around how to deal with specific types of emergencies that could happen in the future.
Plan activation refers to operational planning for disasters occurring right now or in the immediate future (specifically within 48 hours). Finally, after all disaster consequences have been identified (e.g., unplanned downtime), remediation action is taken during a disaster scenario (e.g., backup power supply fails). Organizations should also be able to
-Alternate site operations – this phase occurs when both our primary and alternate sites are operational and functioning correctly. However, more capacity is available at an alternate site than a primary one because of location, distance from the incident, or loss of power lines supplying backup generators. Employees that would otherwise work at a damaged or inaccessible.
Vital records backup
A vital records backup is a copy of all the essential information that could go down if your primary system crashes for any reason. Critical data needs to be backed up when there are no alternatives or failsafe systems in place.
The backup should contain at least three safety copies, preferably more so as it grows in importance or volume. One copy hosted offsite, which can often take a lot less space than you might think with services such as Carbonite and Backupify. Changes need to be made at various intervals like every half an hour, day, week, or month depending on what’s being saved on the back end; this will depend mainly on the database size given how much storage a given data set would require over.
Vital records ensure continuity in disaster by establishing containment and backup measures and leveraging an alternate carrier should the primary route fail. With multiple redundancies, constant monitoring for increased performance levels on secondaries (i.e., SQL Server Always On) will inform you when to change carriers via those redundant flows (proper protection entails separating your essential service from your secondary assistance).
The purpose and objectives of recovery teams within a Business Continuity Plan are fundamental. The team is responsible for aiding business activities during and after disruptions. Generally, this is done by coordinating actions like restoration, reconstruction, and relocation to minimize disruptions in operations for the companies while ensuring their respective employees’ needs are met.
The International Organization for Standardization has identified three primary purposes in establishing these teams – mitigating consequences resulting from natural disasters (such as earthquakes), preparing recovery resources after an earthquake, and enforcing security (in case there is looting).
Recovery teams are some of the most vital players during a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). The general manager of an organization assigns recovery teams based on objectives set out in the BCP. These recovery plans are created to ensure continuity for a company following an emergency such as fire, flood, or even human error. These teams come into work outside their regular hours to address any injuries or damages when the incident occurs. They also coordinate with local medical services and other resources which either employees or customers may need.
The purpose of this team is threefold — it will conduct a damage assessment, addressing liability claims for damaged property, and seek reimbursement from insurers for losses not covered by insurance.
Recovery procedures are part of a Business Continuity Plan, which sets out the measures to be taken if an incident has caused an interruption or cessation of business operations. It includes what can reasonably be done to prepare for setbacks and how to return to near-normal operation.
The purpose and objectives for recovery procedures are threefold: minimize subsequent business disruption; identify lost records or other data that must be restored from an offsite disaster location; start up new equipment in a production environment.
Recovery activities and tasks can include conducting surveys to determine damages caused by an event; assuring enough communications capability is available so services can resume after reconstruction becomes possible; disposing of contaminated water or goods when necessary.
Recovery procedures are written in such a way as to minimize disruption. The people responsible for carrying them out should also be appropriately communicated and understood to be implemented immediately when necessary. The procedures must also be reviewed regularly to ensure they are valid and that the company is still prepared for possible disasters.
The recovery team is responsible for evaluating appropriate measures for the organization, its business relationships with other companies and customers, and any regulatory requirements. They will then create documented recovery policies in advance of a disaster. The purpose of recovery procedures is to provide a framework for response actions that you can take when you suffer an incident or disaster.
The recovery team will also be responsible for monitoring the status of operations and recommending whether additional recovery resources should be called in. The team must cooperate closely with investigators if your organization suffers any cyberattacks or other malicious incidents.
The recovery team will have developed plans and procedures based on how you organized your site, network, and computer system (along with all software and hardware you use). They will be able to ensure that staff members you’ve lost due to the incident can be replaced rapidly.
A business continuity plan is a collection of actions taken to mitigate the effects of any incidents/crises and outages and ensure high service availability. These plans are usually in place before an incident occurs, and they can specify procedures for dealing with different types of incidents such as external attacks, service failure.
It’s essential to keep in mind all elements needed to “undo” what might happen when there is an outage: information should include data recovery plans, telecommunications network connections, restoring Internet access, restoring power supply systems. They should also include provisions for how employees respond to different scenarios, clarifying who needs to do what in response. There may also recommend actions specific to your company.
When determining what to put in your business continuity plan, you should consider all of the following: What are your business’s vital functions?- What would happen if these were disrupted by a disaster (for example, power outage or fire)?- What steps can you take now to protect yourself from such disasters?- How long does it take you to recover and resume operation after an event like this occurs?” In addition, try not to make any assumptions. There’s no one size fits all approach for creating your BC plan.
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Chris Ekai is a Risk Management expert with over 10 years of experience in the field. He has a Master’s degree in Risk Management from University of Portsmouth and is a CPA and Finance professional. He currently works as a Content Manager at Risk Publishing, writing about Enterprise Risk Management, Business Continuity Management and Project Management.