When your business is disrupted—whether because of cyber attacks, natural disasters, or any other interruption—the thought of continuing to run your business as usual while repairs are performed can seem overwhelming. And if your organization doesn’t have a business continuity plan (BCP) in place, it may be impossible to do so.
By implementing a strong, thorough business continuity plan, you can give your company the best possible shot at staying afloat when a threat or disruption emerges.
Many businesses recognize the importance of business continuity planning and may have even developed a strong plan already; but there’s a difference between having a continuity plan and knowing how to execute it.
If you’re stuck at a roadblock in the process of executing your continuity plan or taking it past its beginning stages, here are our tips for full development and implementation.
Essentials for Your Business Continuity Plan
As most business executives know, a business continuity plan is simply a strategic response framework your organization will put into place to help deal with any type of disruption, be it a man-made event or natural disaster.
The steps and strategies included in your plan should be regularly tested to ensure they remain effective and up to date. In addition, roles and responsibilities should also be assigned, based on job function, so that a proper response can be made efficiently.
As such, a few of the essential areas your plan should have mapped out for the event of a disaster include:
- Inventory: This includes a detailed list of your IT equipment and other valuable equipment in your office.
- List of contacts: You’ll need to know how to contact clients, vendors, and staff to inform them of the situation and any delays it may cause, as well as what’s being done to remedy the situation and a projected timeline for recovery, if possible.
- Standard emergency procedures: What needs to be done to keep operations going in an emergency, and who will perform those functions? What processes can still be performed even from a remote location or with limited resources/staff?
- Analysis of prevalent risks: Which risks pose the greatest threat to your business? Are you located in an area with frequent hurricanes, or are cyber attacks especially common in your industry? Your plan should include specific responses for the most likely and critical threats.
- Backups: You need to have secure backups of essential data available, along with instructions on where and how to access that data in an emergency.
- Procedures for staff & emergency personnel: Your plan should include instruction for all personnel regarding their roles in the recovery process.
Best Practices for BCP Implementation
Once you have your plan outlined, what comes next? After your plan is decided and documented, key steps for its implementation include:
- Analysis and Assessment: This includes both regularly analyzing your business for risks and vulnerabilities and assessing damage after a disaster strikes.
- Education and Compliance: This step includes aligning your BCP with all compliance standards and educating key players and high-level staff on their roles in the event of a disaster.
- Continued Testing and Training: Regularly test your plan and update it according to new threats, changes within the company, and other needs as they arise.
Analysis and Assessment
A business impact assessment should be run in order to determine the most comprehensive and tailored recovery strategies for your organization. A thorough assessment should identify your company’s data storage practices, note maximum downtime limits, and evaluate redundancy options. You should also expect to know when normal operations can be resumed.
Various risk management analyses should also be performed to identify potential threats that you and your information technology team may not yet be aware of.
All possible risks should be addressed and listed out in the plan in full detail. This should include the probability of any of the included scenarios occurring and the possible ramifications of each. Multiple possible solutions for each scenario should also be listed, along with their associated total costs and recovery time objective (RTO).
Education and Compliance
Once a continuity plan is created, you must ensure that the plan follows all compliance regulations. At this point, the high-level staff within your enterprise should be made aware of its details.
A good cyber security provider should help educate your senior staff members and stakeholders on all aspects of the plan that they would need to be involved in. It may also be beneficial for them to learn how to identify threats and events themselves, as well as how to feel confident reaching out and taking action before a potential situation escalates.
Continued Testing and Training
Proper business continuity planning means adjusting your security infrastructure as your business grows and changes. This should include regular ongoing testing of your existing plan, wherein new threats and vulnerabilities should be searched for and identified.
Regular systemic testing should include drills and simulation exercises, and your plan should be updated—and your senior staff and stakeholders thus informed—as needed.
Removing Roadblocks to Continuity
Struggling to take these steps forward after your plan is decided? We recommend:
- Prioritizing business continuity planning and training: If you’re waiting for “extra” time to spend on business continuity planning once other things slow down, you’ll likely never end up getting to it. We recommend prioritizing business continuity planning and training by scheduling it automatically along with other mandatory meetings at regular intervals.
- Delegating and splitting up tasks: Although it may work for some organizations to assign one individual to take charge of continuity planning, it’s often more effective to assign different aspects to separate staff members to split up the load and make the overall planning more manageable.
- Work with an expert: When you lack the time, manpower, or knowledge to enact your business continuity plan, working with an expert can place the task in the hands of capable specialists. An experienced IT provider can help you not only plan for the IT logistics of a disaster, but also maintain regular analysis, testing, and backups.
How Can AIS Help With Business Continuity?
Taking the time to identify all of the threats to your organization and plan for their eventuality allows you to stay one step ahead of disaster. Simply planning ahead can help you maintain normal business operations and demonstrate your organizational resilience.
AIS works in improving IT and cybersecurity for companies in a variety of industries, from financial services to the government. We are prepared with the tools and staff necessary to properly run assessments on your digital enterprise’s infrastructure, identify strengths and risks, build and implement tailored security solutions aligned with strict compliance standards, and step in whenever remediation is needed.
AIS can manage protection through every step of the process and help protect your company no matter the situation. Contact us today for a free consultation and to learn how we can help your business execute your continuity plan and improve your IT strategy.