Business continuity is a broad term, and it can refer to different situations, but ultimately, what it means even in different scenarios is that your business has a plan to continue operations without disruption even when facing challenges.
Network infrastructure and security are often considered they relate to continuity, for example. A business’s network assets and components have to operate at a peak level of efficiency with as minimal disruptions related to security issues or other problems as possible.
Business continuity is a form of risk management. Representatives consider the business’s most essential functions and how it will continue to operate following a disaster. Mission-critical services are the prime focus of business continuity planning.
The goal of a continuity plan is that it helps to establish full functionality to your organization as quickly and efficiently as possible following a disaster.
Business continuity planning is something that should involve all departments in a business, and the IT team is who heads it up.
Some specific things built into a business continuity plan include how much data loss can is tolerable during downtime and how to communicate about an incident to relevant stakeholders in a timely way.
Thanks to the evolution of cloud technology, it is more comfortable and affordable for businesses to have robust IT infrastructures and good contingency plans.
The cloud-based services that often play a role in business continuity include cloud data backups, disaster recovery as a service, and managed security plans.
For businesses that don’t invest the time and resources into a continuity plan, the detrimental effects can be challenging to overcome. For example, even just a few minutes of downtime can cost millions for large enterprise-level organizations. Each minute of downtime can amount to thousands in lost revenue.
The following provides more information about business continuity and tips for implementing appropriate continuity plans.
What Types of Events Are Addressed with a Continuity Plan?
There are a wide variety of potential events that should be addressed and considered with a continuity plan. Many plans begin with natural disasters such as floods or fires. Additionally, a possible localized failure such as damage to a specific network component can be included in a continuity plan.
Human error should be planned for because often, both employees and third-party vendors can be responsible for disasters, typically just because of human error.
Finally, the most likely issue many businesses must plan for is cybersecurity-related incidents. Even a seemingly minor cybersecurity issue can destroy a business.
Creating a Continuity Plan
The following are some of the steps to integrate into continuity planning:
- Typically, if you don’t have a continuity plan in place, the first step is an analysis of business impact. It will provide a foundation for what your business can and can’t live without in the face of a disaster, as well as how much downtime you can withstand.
- A risk assessment helps you understand what the threats are to your business and how likely they are so you can build the rest of your continuity plan accordingly.
- Then, once you have a clear idea of what threats you face, you can start working on the specific ways you’ll manage those risks and protect against them.
If you have a business plan in place already, you should ensure that you’re regularly reviewing it.
While business continuity plans and disaster recovery do tie in with one another, they’re not the same thing. A disaster recovery plan is part of a larger continuity plan.
Think About How Threats Affect Each Area of a Business
Sometimes there is too much of a focus on how a threat will impact a specific area of a business, but the focus needs to be more holistic.
When creating or updating a continuity plan, even though a threat might only affect one particular part of business, most significantly, you have to factor in the other areas too.
You may have different communication plans for various departments and stakeholders too. How will your communication with management different from your communication to customers, for example?
Backup and Recovery
Every aspect of your IT planning needs to be built on a foundation of backup and recovery, and these are essential in continuity plans too.
You should look for inexpensive, dependable, and fast recovery solutions.
Backup and recovery are more linked to your specific disaster recovery plan. Business continuity plans consider backup and recovery, but also need to include planning, risk management, and the oversight that will occur if there is a disruption.
When you are managing a network, you have a variety of hardware and software components. You need to have complete visibility into all of them and how they’re functioning at any given time. It allows you to spot issues more quickly, which reduces the impact, as well as monitoring performance and capacity.
Without centralized visibility, it’s tough to create a continuity plan for present or future needs.
Beyond what’s detailed above, there are some best practices to keep in mind for a business continuity plan.
First, it can’t be viewed as a deliverable. It’s something that’s ongoing and continuously changing as necessary. If you don’t keep up with the changing landscape, your business continuity plan isn’t going to last long enough to be relevant.
It’s also not an IT plan. Yes, IT might head it up, but it’s something that involves everyone and every department in an organization.
There needs to be a human element in it, as well. For example, even if you can get your tech assets up and running adequately, does that mean employees are going to be able to work with customers as they usually would before the disaster happened?
A business continuity plan can prepare your business for the unexpected. It can help you be resilient in a time where threats continue to grow and expand and make more of an impact than ever before.