Disasters can strike anytime. When natural calamities and unforeseen crises occur, businesses need to have a strategy prepare to minimize damages and loss. Whether it’s a citywide blackout, a typhoon, an IT system infiltration, or other security breaches, you need to be prepared with a business continuity plan.
Your business continuity plan is more than just your backup solution for emergency situations or disasters. Having a plan in place ensures your clients, customers, and employees that your company is proactive in addressing disruptions in critical functions and mitigating the business impacts that results from any crisis.
Data systems and IT support companies are especially prone to data and equipment loss. While some businesses have functions and equipment that are unique to their niche, there are general considerations that are essential for any business continuity plan to be efficient. We’ve outlined the important considerations to make an effective business continuity plan.
1. Critical Business Functions
Identify business functions and processes that are critical in your day-to-day operations. In the event of a crisis, which business process should remain functional to mitigate impact? All business functions are important, so determining the most important functions can be a challenge.
Make a list of all business functions, both automated and manual. Identify the effects that the failure, delay, loss, or disruption of each function can result to. This will help you determine the prioritization of critical business functions.
2. Essential Equipment and Systems
On-site computers contain critical client information and files. Damage or loss of such equipment can greatly impact client relations, business processes, and productivity.
Identify other equipment that you may want to prioritize in your business continuity plan such as servers, special equipment, and irreplaceable software.
3. Potential Risks and Threats
Your business continuity strategy will depend on the type and severity of the crisis, so your business continuity strategy should cover various threats and crisis situations as possible.
Identify the risks and threats that your business can face. Prioritize them according to which events are likely to occur. Are you located in an earthquake prone area? Are typhoons common in your region? Is the nature of your business predisposed to security attacks?
Typhoons, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes may destroy both life and property. Cyber terrorism and hacker attacks may destroy your IT infrastructure but not the hardware. Epidemics may affect your human resources. Power outages and blackouts may impact your productivity hours, but your resources will remain intact. Protect your investments with a business continuity plan that covers any and all events.
4. Emergency Contact Information
There’s no time to google or go through the phone directory should disasters occur. Keep an updated list of the nearest fire station, hospital, police station, rescue organizations, and government entities that you may need to contact in various emergency situations and disseminate it to all departments and offices.
5. Disaster Recovery Team
Companies don’t usually implement business continuity plans in ideal daily operations, so the disaster recovery team is usually part of the operations management department.
But since the whole company needs to be involved in business continuity, the disaster recovery team should include first level leaders all the way to the top management. These people are the first responders to the scene in the event of disastrous situations.
6. Roles and Responsibilities
Clearly assign roles and responsibilities to members of your disaster recovery team. Identify their knowledge, skills, and expertise to determine which role to assign to them.
For instance, one or two of your team leaders may have a medical or nursing background. You can then assign them to the first aid team. In the event of IT disasters, IT personnel can be your first respondents.
7. Emergency Drills
After identifying the various disastrous scenarios that your company can face, educate employees about what they can and should do in these situations. Some companies conduct fire and earthquake drills to orient all personnel and employees about what to do during these circumstances.
Drills can be as simple as showing your employees how to shut down their computers and systems if a blackout or power failure occurs to prevent software and hardware damage. Make sure your employees are educated and oriented about what to do to avoid panic.
8. Data Backup Plan
Your business has accumulated countless amounts of sensitive and critical data that you need to protect and secure at all times.
Cloud data storage is especially useful for unforeseen crises that affect your physical workplace or business location. Not only does it enable employees to access the date from any location with an internet connection, but it also secures your data and client information in a safe place. It can be accessed anytime to ensure business continuity.
9. Alternative Facilities and Equipment
If your office or business location is rendered unusable, you need to have a backup location where your employees can continue with their work. This can be a hotel, a storage facility, a spare office, or your employees’ respective homes.
Identify which employees can telecommute or work from home if your backup business location cannot accommodate all employees or is not accessible to some personnel.
Some employees (if not most) have their own personal computers and laptops that they can use temporarily. Determine who among your employees have their own devices that they can use for remote work.
10. Alternative Communications
What will you do if internet connection, phone lines, and telecommunications systems are damaged or completely destroyed during a disaster?
Assign a safe rally point where your employees can converge. This will help you take account of all your personnel during and after a crisis.
Having an effective business continuity plan in place not only helps your company recover from disasters but also helps prevent them. Of course, you can’t prevent natural calamities and events that are beyond your control. But, there are certain crises that can be prevented such as hacker attacks, security and data theft, and equipment breakdown.
A business continuity plan can only do so much for any business, so always prioritize life over property. 9/11 taught us that the human race is resilient. No matter what calamities or disasters come our way, we always find a way to get back up and recover. A business continuity plan is something that we can rely on in these events.