February 25, 2019

Creating an effective business continuity plan

Business Continuity plans are not set in stone but designed to evolve, as one emergency is rarely the same as another.

Good and sensible preparation helps enable resilience in the face of difficult scenarios, providing the ability to keep business operations functioning, as well as recovering from any downtime that might result. Let’s look at some of the key aspects.

Analyse past incidents and future threats
Intelligence gathered from previous incidents should inform future plans. Understand what risks there are to your supply chain – these could be physical and virtual – and use them to guide your plans while also factoring in the unexpected. Every incident, however large or small, is a chance to learn more and revise the plan.

Identify business critical functions
What can’t your business function without? Consider the people, processes, systems and premises to establish the core functions and structures that are necessary to keep you operational.

Understand the infrastructure
Downtime can be prolonged when changes have been made to infrastructure that have not been recorded. A central log of all applications and systems speeds the recovery process.

Document and communicate the plan
Everyone involved in implementing a Business Continuity plan should be aware of their responsibilities and have access to the plan quickly when it becomes necessary. Regular reviews of the plan help keep it front of mind and speed the response time when a crisis event does take place. Share the plan with stakeholders too so they have confidence in your planning.

Test the plan
Do not just make the BC plan – test it regularly. It is the only way to ensure that it is up-to-date and will work. The test should be end-to-end to make sure that all elements of it work and critical systems can be fully recovered.  Disaster Recovery testing for instance, should meet the RTOs and RPOs that have been benchmarked for the business.

Recover the workforce
Depending on the nature of the event, employees might not be allowed back into the office for a significant period. While many companies will enable remote working for most employees, it might be necessary to have a crisis management team together in a physical office space to co-ordinate the response. Workplace recovery solutions are available that provide fixed site or flexible recovery locations for key staff and, even if they are not used in a crisis, they can be invaluable to use for DR and BC testing purposes.

Good planning keeps your business compliant, operational with its reputation intact.

From our UK sovereign data centres and private fibre network, iomart offers a wide range of business continuity services to help minimise downtime of critical business systems in the event of a disaster. These include Backup as Service, Disaster Recovery as a Service and Workplace Recovery. Fully managed, these services are often far more cost effective than doing it in-house.

Get in touch if you would like to find out more.