A Business Continuity Plan is a document that outlines how a business will continue to operate if any disruption arises that impacts the services provided by that business. Such a plan goes beyond a basic disaster recovery plan or contingency plan because it contains contingency plans for every single aspect of the business. Many business leaders don’t even know what business continuity plans are– which is unfortunate, considering they are vital.
In this guide, we’ll explore what a business continuity plan is in more depth, its purpose, the areas of business they cover, and what a typical business continuity plan entails.
The process of developing a framework for preventing and recovering from potential risks to a corporation is known as business continuity planning (also known as a BCP). In the event of a crisis, the plan ensures that workers and assets are protected and that operations can resume rapidly. BCP is intended to protect employees and assets while also ensuring that they can function swiftly in the event of a crisis. BCPs should be tested to guarantee that any flaws that may be found can be sufficiently fixed. Simply described, business continuity planning is the process through which a corporation develops a framework for preventing and recovering from hazards such as natural catastrophes or cyber-attacks.
A checklist of supplies and equipment, data backups, and backup site locations is usually included in plans. Plans can also include contact information for emergency responders, essential individuals, and backup site suppliers, as well as plan administrators. Specific ways for maintaining business operations during both short and long-term disruptions may be included in plans.
A disaster recovery plan, which includes techniques for dealing with IT disruptions to networks, servers, personal computers, and mobile devices, is an important part of a business continuity strategy. The strategy should include how to reestablish office productivity and enterprise software in order to meet critical company needs. The plan should include manual workarounds so that operations can continue until computer systems can be restored.
A business continuity strategy for critical apps and processes has three main components:
There are three major components to a well-designed business continuity strategy.
First and foremost, a business continuity plan must be robust. This means that critical company functions are maintained in the event of a calamity. The business continuity team conducts a risk assessment of each function to identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities and then implements countermeasures. This helps to keep risk management policies in place.
Second, stakeholders rank functionalities and determine which should be implemented first. The sooner that functions can return to a functional state after a disaster, the less likely the organization will experience long-term damage. IT stakeholders must build an actionable disaster recovery plan and set realistic disaster recovery time goals. After mission-critical functions have been restored, team members work their way down the priority list, enlisting third-party assistance as needed to implement recovery procedures.
Third, companies must have a contingency plan with branching paths that outline the chain of command, stakeholder duties, and any technical skills required for emergency management in pre-determined disaster scenarios. Finally, an optimized business continuity plan contains a recovery time objective (RTO) to determine how quickly business activities must be restored, as well as a business impact analysis (BIA) to measure the success of recovery efforts. A disaster report, on the other hand, demonstrates to stakeholders how the disaster recovery planning process might be improved in the future.
An organization can withstand crises, assess damage rapidly, and recover as swiftly as possible if these three pieces are in place. A business continuity plan must also be understood as a live document that must be updated on a regular basis as the organization adopts new technology and processes. Organizations create new solutions and infrastructures as they scale up; they must be factored into the plan, or disaster recovery issues may be exacerbated by unforeseen bottlenecks.
It's critical to have a business continuity plan in place to identify and solve business process, application, and IT infrastructure resiliency issues. A failure of infrastructure can easily cost a corporation hundreds of thousands of dollars each hour, with some companies losing millions of dollars.
To survive and thrive in the face of these various threats, businesses have understood that they must do more than develop a sound infrastructure that allows expansion and protects data. Companies are increasingly building comprehensive business continuity plans that can keep your firm up and running, secure data, protect the brand, retain consumers, and, in the long run, help you save money on total operating costs. With a business continuity strategy in place, you can reduce downtime and improve business continuity, IT disaster recovery, corporate crisis management capabilities, and regulatory compliance over time.
However, because systems are very much linked and deployed across hybrid IT environments, generating potential weaknesses, constructing a complete business continuity plan has grown more complex. Business continuity planning, as well as disaster-related recovery, overall resiliency and prevention, regulatory compliance, and overall security, get more complicated when more vital systems are linked together to manage increasing expectations. When one link in this fragile chain breaks or is attacked by an outside threat, the ramifications can be felt throughout the company. If a company fails to remain resilient while adapting and responding to threats and opportunities, it risks losing revenue and customer trust.
Many businesses must take multiple steps to create a good BCP. They are as follows:
Companies may also find it useful to create a checklist that includes crucial facts such as emergency contact information, a list of resources the continuity team may require, the location of backup data and other required information, and other relevant employees.
The company should test both the continuity team and the BCP itself, in addition to the continuity team. It should be tested multiple times to guarantee that it can be used in a variety of risk circumstances. This will assist in identifying any plan flaws, which may then be addressed and corrected.