Business continuity planning is something often overlooked by many companies. Most small business owners (around 68%) still don’t have a written business continuity plan.
It’s often mistakenly seen by businesses as a frivolous expense. After all, why would you want to pay for something now that might not ever happen?
The simple truth is that if it can happen, it likely will.
Take a cyberattack as an example – 50% of small and midsized organizations reported suffering at least one cyberattack in the last 12 months. This digital attack is typically much more than a simple, annoying virus or bug.
It’s usually a malicious tool specifically engineered to take resources from your business while leaving you to deal with downtime (which can cost small businesses up to $8,600 per hour). There’s no telling how long you’ll suffer from downtime.
The only thing that’s certain is that you will spend much more money than necessary recovering if you are unprepared when it happens to you.
Introducing Business Continuity to Your Organization
There’s a definitive need for a business continuity policy, but where do you even start to address it? First, let’s clarify what it is. According to TechTarget, it’s “a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue operating during an unplanned event.”
So what needs to go into this plan? Here’s a quick list of things we recommend to maximize your recovery.
1. The recovery team and their contact information
When disasters occur, the only way the company will recover is through the actions of people. Assigning designated roles to each person will assist in cutting down the confusion during the stressful time. And, including their contact information ensures that you always have a way to reach them if/when you need to.
2. A sequential IT recovery checklist
If your systems are affected by a disaster, you’ll need to focus your efforts on the most critical systems first. To prepare your checklist, you must first run thorough tests, such as network assessments and technology audits, prior to the disaster.
Doing so gives you critical knowledge about what is most important to your operations. Restoring those business-critical systems will help you recover in a much more efficient manner, cutting down on downtime and recovery mishaps.
3. A guide for communication channels
During a disaster, your company won’t be the only one suffering. Many organizations have clients that rely deeply on their products and services. Ensuring that your communication with them is clear and open is critical for a successful recovery.
Otherwise, you may risk suffering from reputational damages – if a client can’t access your services, they’ll go somewhere else.
4. A hardware and software inventory
Some disasters, such as floods and fires, are highly destructive. It’s imperative to take stock of your equipment after they occur so you can begin to replace them. Other threats, such as power loss and cyberattacks, don’t affect hardware. Instead, they may corrupt files, folders, and systems.
In this case, it’s important to identify all affected software for possible recovery or complete scrubbing for security purposes.
5. Details regarding any alternate worksite(s)
Your business continuity plan should always include a way to work off-site. If your workplace gets destroyed or damaged, you’ll need to invest in a way to work remotely for your team.
You can look into recovery centers, where your options range from shared workspaces to fully custom-built recovery trailers. To get the most out of them, you’ll also want to bring any data backups you’ve created. With the backups in place, you can continue to work with minimal downtime and service interruption.
Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst
Business continuity plans and policies are necessary for all modern businesses. When the time comes, you’ll be glad you planned ahead with a comprehensive plan.