Ensuring Business Continuity is the name of the game when it comes to managing the threat of disasters and their impact on businesses. In this article we’re discussing the ins and outs of a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and its close relative, the Disaster Recovery Plan.
A Business Continuity plan (BCP) is a plan created to ensure that business operations can continue during a time of emergency, threat or disaster. Disasters, emergencies and other threats to operations are unpredictable by nature. A BCP helps businesses to prepare for unexpected events and ensures continued operations should the threat become a reality.
When it comes to Business Continuity Planning, we need to be considering any potential event that leaves businesses unable to continue under normal conditions.
How many businesses did you hear talking about the threat of a pandemic and how best to prepare before Covid struck in 2020? Getting out ahead of the unexpected is paramount.
Consider how the following emergencies or disasters could impact your operations:
- Natural disasters
- Another pandemic
- Data breach
A key feature of any BCP should be a specific Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP). A DRP outlines the specific approach that will be taken in the event that an individual threat or disaster / emergency occurs. A DRP should consist of a detailed, step by step response to recover operations as quickly as possible after an event. The following components need to be included to build a robust DRP:
- List of names and contact details of employees responsible for implementing specific stages of the recovery process (back up personnel and contact details are also advised).
- Contact details of any external providers / partners involved in the recovery process including after-hours information.
- Detailed steps to recover operations in order of priority.
- A testing schedule that simulates at least one specific scenario (e.g., data breach / malware attack) in its entirety, documents outcomes and lists required improvements.
There are specific considerations for IT-based businesses when looking to strengthen their Business Continuity in the event of disaster. Whether it is a threat-based emergency, data-focused breach or something that compromises direct operations, being able to react almost immediately, access critical data and contain threats is essential.
In an IT environment, emergencies and disasters take on a particular flavour and should be mapped out with a partner that understands the nuances of tech-based operations.
Whether you manage your own DRP or partner with a provider, how you answer the following prompts will tell you a lot about the health of your DRP:
- Do you have end to end data protection?
- How is your backup managed and accessed?
- How quickly can you detect malware and ransomware attacks?
- Do you have local and cloud-based data protection?
- Do you compare backup points to know exactly when data was deleted, added or modified?
A healthy Business Continuity plan should have several components including recovery personnel, recovery procedures, data backup, and Business Continuity testing. Recovery personnel are dedicated individuals assigned to manage the recovery process to get systems back up and running quickly. The recovery procedure outlines the strategies to restore key business functions and helps to prioritize assets critical to business operation. These assets include equipment, IT systems, and contact lists.
Helpful tip: to protect critical assets, classify them based on their criticality to the business and define recovery objectives such as:
- Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and
- Recovery Time Objective (RTO)
Data backup should be established with methods for backup and recovery based on RTO and RPO, as well as the granularity of recoveries required.
Once your plan is built, it must be comprehensively tested.
Simply having a BCP / DRP in place isn’t enough – testing is essential
BCP / DRP testing gives businesses insights into how prepared their employees are in case a disruption occurs. It is a risk-to-reality simulation in which employees need to work together to find a solution and recover lost data, communications technologies or damaged property. To keep everything running smoothly, a business should test its BCP at least once a year. However, the frequency of testing largely depends on the nature of the business, turnover rates, rapid process changes or new regulations.
Did you know? It can impact your insurance if you don’t have a BCP / DRP in place.
Implementing a BCP empowers a business to respond to disruptions that could potentially affect business operations. It minimizes the impact of disruptions while also enabling a business to quickly get mission-critical processes up and running with minimal or no data loss. Being able to deliver services or products to customers despite calamities paints a business in a positive light among customers. Essentially, a BCP safeguards revenue and reputation during business disruption.
There is significant work involved in creating and implementing of a full suite of Business Continuity processes. Once in place, businesses also need to be spending regular time testing, updating and maintaining BCPs / DRPs. Luckily there are specialist out there who are offering Business Continuity management, including disaster recovery plans, as a tailored service. See below for an outline of VITG solutions.
VITG BCaaS solution offers:
- All-in-one Business Continuity for IT environments.
- Data backups as frequently as every 5 minutes.
- Restore entire servers in minutes, not hours or days.
- Both local and cloud options for data recovery.
- Mitigate compliance and regulatory concerns.
- Eliminate the impact of Ransomware with automated detection & easy recovery.
In conclusion, a BCP is an essential strategy for a business to prepare for unexpected events and to ensure Business Continuity, but businesses don’t have to go it alone.