As 2020 has clearly demonstrated, disruptions can have an adverse impact on a business without warning, at any time. And while a pandemic, or something like a fire, cyber attack or flood, are examples of this, disaster doesn’t always have to be quite that dramatic. Supply chain failure or anything else which takes your systems offline, or even just losing a key member of your team can all be highly disruptive.
Not only do you rarely get notice of a disaster before it happens, but an incident is unlikely to unfold in the way you expect it to; equally, each one is different. Equally importantly, it’s not unheard of for more than one disruption to happen at once.
Business continuity allows you to carry on functioning as an organisation with minimal disturbance to productivity, routine, and, ultimately, profitability.
Whatever industry you operate in and whether you work in the private, public or charity sectors, your organisation needs a plan to be able to continue working, whatever happens, and whatever its size.
For example, if anything happened to your building, would your staff still be able to deal with customers or make sales calls? Would they be able to work from home, or do they need to be based somewhere else? What machines would they use, and would these be secure? How did you cope when you needed to set up your staff at home when coronavirus struck virtually overnight?
Crucially, business continuity differs from disaster recovery in that the latter tends to focus more on restoring IT operations and infrastructure in the wake of a crisis. Disaster recovery is a key part of any overall business continuity assessment, which should look at a whole organisation.
Business continuity plans recognise the various threats an organisation faces, and assesses the impact of each one on daily operations, before they happen.
Your plan should also set out how best to mitigate these risks, with a framework so a business’s key functions can carry on with uninterrupted service to customers, come what may, even if the worst happens.
The ultimate aim is to enable continual operation before and during disaster recovery.
Your plan should also outline instructions and procedures to follow, and covers business processes and assets, HR and business partners, among other factors.
It should have a checklist including equipment and supplies, data back-up locations, plus contact details for key employees, back-up site providers and emergency responders.
It’s also important that you know your business continuity plan would work by testing it regularly.
And there are various ways of doing this, from a simple table-top exercise to a full disaster simulation testing every year.
Finally, regular review is also important. Your plan could otherwise become stale or be forgotten about. Technology evolves, things change, and people leave a company while new ones arrive. So review your plan at least annually
Unless you’re properly prepared, with an updated and thoroughly tested plan, not only could recovery take longer, but your business may not recover at all.
For smaller organisations in particular, limited resources many mean that business continuity seems too expensive. Or you may consider that an organisation with a bigger IT ‘footprint’ has more chance of system failure.
In fact, a smaller business’s lesser resources and lack of support networks if disaster strikes are precisely why it needs to have a solid business continuity plan
At Epoq IT, we offer small and medium-sized businesses the specialist support needed for IT risk management specifically, and disaster recovery as part of their over-arching business continuity plan.
This covers a mix of cyber security, incident planning and disaster recovery so that it’s effective as it can possibly be. We also provide expert advice on continuity planning covering everything from staff enablement to future technology roadmaps based on business needs.
Talk to us today about our state-of-the-art business continuity solutions, and how they could help your business.