No, “plan” isn’t one of them. That’s too easy. You need a business continuity plan in place to ensure that you can operate during an unplanned event, no matter what it might be. Business continuity planning is the process of creating prevention and recovery tactics to deal with disasters or emergencies. An effective business continuity plan will give your team members guidelines to the following:
- Define potentials risks
- Determine how those risks will affect operations
- Implement safeguards and policies to mitigate aforementioned risks
- Set framework for review and necessary updates
Business continuity planning puts your team back in the drivers’ seat by setting clear guidelines and timelines for recovery tactics as well as assigning responsibility so nothing falls through the cracks and you experience as little disruption as possible.
It can be easy to envision the hoodie-wearing, fast-typing hacker in a dark room as the perpetrator but that’s only true for a portion of disasters. Here are a few other examples to be aware of as your team puts together their business continuity plan:
- Human error: This is one of the leading causes of disasters and can be both accidental and intentional. How are you setting up your safeguards to protect against both?
- Natural disasters: hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes and even just extreme temperatures can wreak havoc on your IT, depending on how it is housed.
- Hardware Failure: sometimes parts break or drives fail to work. This is the IT version of throwing a wrench into a manufacturer’s machine.
- Software Disasters: This encompasses traditional hackers, ransomware or malware. Make sure you are consistently maintaining your security to keep up with the latest trends in cyber threats.
This is really two subcategories: personnel and your customers. When it comes to your employees, it’s important to include them from the day they start onboarding as active members of both the disaster prevention and business continuity team. Giving them ownership of the policies makes them more effective when the rubber meets the road. Invest in educational modules and make policies easily visible on your employee resource platform so they can refer to them as needed. As the plan is updated, send an organization-wide communication to keep everyone on the same page.
Your customers are also important members of the business continuity team. They can often be the whistleblowers to major incidents. Setting up a way for them to report issues easily and quickly as they arise is critical for the success of your plan.
Pattern of Communication
Once you identify your business continuity team, it’s important to come to consensus on how communication will flow both internally and externally. What information do you need before posting notifications? Will you require an all-hands meeting to make sure everyone has the facts? Do you need to assign a spokesperson in order to communicate with news outlets, should this garner the attention of the media?
Keep in mind that an effective communication plan is a transparent and expeditious communication plan. Don’t keep critical information to yourselves any longer than you need to. If you leave employees and customers in the dark for too long, it could end up costing you loyalty after the dust has settled.
If your office floods or you experience a fire, where do you go? Do you have a remote work setup that could help some employees carry on with their daily tasks, or do you need more space than that? Some providers offer recovery suites where essential employees can continue working until their office is safely usable again. Know who needs to be at which location in the event of an emergency and communicate that internally whenever you experience personnel changes. It’s critical to conduct regular Disaster Recovery tests to prove your plan works if and when a true disaster arises.
Redundancy is key when it comes to keeping your lights on and applications up. Are you storing your data in a facility or room with backup generators, extra fuel or whatever else you might need to keep your applications not only up and on but your servers cool? Data centers often boast massive redundancies that guarantee nearly 100% uptime, no matter what is happening outside or what attacks are happening to the power supply.
An outdated business continuity plan is not going to be of much use in the event of a disaster, so be sure to take notes as you mitigate risks and the occasional disaster to make sure you are on the right track for the next curveball that comes your way. Additionally, companies have the option to conduct training, testing and other exercises to evaluate recovery strategies. Be sure to document the results and perform multiple tests to make sure your policies hold up.
As you are practicing, simulating and testing, look at officially assigning responsibilities to individual team members to ensure that the right experts are owning each element of recovery and once the response is triggered, these elements can be swiftly executed. As always, when evaluating the efficacy of your BCP, keep in mind that it may make sense to reassign responsibilities as your organization grows and evolves.
Business continuity is a daunting task, but you don’t have to do it alone. Partnering with a trusted provider of security and business continuity services can help you offload some of the burden, and hopefully sleep a little better at night, knowing your mission-critical IT is secure and there is a tactical team in place to address and mitigate any threats that come your way.
The Only other Letter you Need for a Business Continuity Plan: L for LightEdge
LightEdge is committed to keeping our customers’ IT operations, critical applications and data protected. We provide the technology and resources our customers require to get back to business as usual. Our comprehensive set of disaster recovery solutions ensure uninterrupted performance of your mission-critical systems should disaster strike.
Redundancy is built into each of our seven hardened facilities. Our customers get more than a traditional data center and can reap the benefits of true hybrid solution centers designed to deliver high speed, maximum security, and redundancy, all from local people you can trust.
Want to learn more about how you can protect your organization through business continuity services? Contact one of our business continuity experts to get started or to schedule your private tour of any of our data center facilities. We have disaster recovery, colocation and business continuity experts standing by to answer any of your questions.