Creating an effective, well-designed business continuity plan is a highly important step for businesses of all sizes. If you want to ensure that your business is not severely disrupted by natural disasters, man-made disasters, and simple human errors, you’ll need a business continuity plan that provides contingencies for all of these obstacles.
Below, we’ll take a look at what business continuity is and why it’s important as well as the steps that you can use to create a business continuity plan that will help you limit downtime as much as possible.
What is Business Continuity?
Business continuity is defined as the ability of a business to ensure that their core operations are not disrupted and their systems are not taken offline by disasters and unplanned incidents. Unfortunately, there are a wide range of disasters that can bring your business to a halt, and some of them are more likely than many business owners might realize.
These include things such as a flood that destroys your on-site servers, a power outage that takes your network offline, a cyber-attack that cripples your IT infrastructure, and more.
Business continuity planning entails preparing for disasters such as this and putting in place contingencies that allow your business to quickly react when disaster strikes in order to keep your systems online.
Being able to avoid downtime due to disasters is a highly important goal. If your systems go offline for even a relatively short period of time, it can cost you customers, upend your short-term goals, and halt your productivity.
If you create an effective business continuity plan, though, you can be prepared to prevent all forms of disasters as well as quickly deal with them if they do arise, helping you ensure business continuity.
Structure of a Business Continuity Plan
If you want to create an effective business continuity plan for your business, there is a very straightforward structure that you can use. The steps to creating a business continuity plan are as follows:
Identify the Scope of Your Business Continuity Plan
The first step in creating a business continuity plan is to determine how encompassing you want your plan to be.
- What type of disasters will it account for?
- What is your primary objective for creating a business continuity plan?
- What amount of resources do you plan to dedicate to business continuity?
Answering questions such as these as you begin creating your business continuity plan will help the plan take shape and help you identify right from the start what your plan needs to look like in the end.
Identify Key Areas of Your Business
While you never want any area of your business to experience downtime, some areas of both your network and your business as a whole are more mission-critical than others.
While it may seem like a good idea to ensure continuity for all areas of your business — and, overall, it is — this is nonetheless somewhat idealistic. If you focus your business continuity plan on fortifying the key areas of your business, you can commit more of the time, resources, and planning that you have available to keeping these areas online.
Identify Critical Functions
Once you’ve identified the key areas of your business, the next step is to identify the critical functions that these key areas are reliant on. For example, if you identify your website as a key area of your business, your web hosting server would likely be one critical function that it is reliant on. Keeping these critical functions online will be the key to ensuring that the key areas of your business remain operational.
Identify the Dependencies Between Key Areas of Your Business and Critical Functions
The key areas of your business and the critical functions that your business relies on will often be interwoven in a way that can be quite complex. You need to identify what areas of your business rely on what functions, and vise versa in order to better understand how your business will be affected if one of your critical functions is disrupted.
Determine how Much Downtime You can Afford for Each Critical Function
Some types of downtime are more costly than others. Once you understand how your critical functions affect the key areas of your business, you can determine how much downtime is acceptable for each critical function then take steps to keep the downtime for each critical function below that level.
Create a Plan to Maintain Operations
After you’ve determined how much downtime you can afford for each critical function, you’ll need to create a plan for maintaining your operations so that no critical function experiences more downtime than is acceptable. This can include a lot of different steps, from backup generators to disaster recovery procedures to backup data storage and beyond.
Having an effective business continuity plan is essential if you want to avoid the heavy consequences of downtime. If you would like to learn more about how we can help your business avoid downtime, we invite you to contact us today.