Business Continuity (BC) is the ability to maintain or rapidly resume business operations during and after a natural or human-induced disaster that would otherwise cripple or shut down your business. It is the expected result of a properly executed BC plan.
Ensuring your business can operate in case of a disaster is just as important for a small business as it is for a large enterprise. The key question is the same: how quickly can I get my business operating again so we can maintain revenue and retain customers? A BC plan will help you avoid uncertainty, chaos and downtime during a disaster.
I live in South Florida so being under the threat of a natural disaster by way of a hurricane is a constant risk 6 months out of the year. But when it comes to causes for business disruption due to a disaster, only 10% of downtime is related to natural events while 58% is attributed to human error. No matter how safe you think your geographical location is every business has employees and therefore every business needs to have a tested BC plan as a part of its operations.
It’s not a matter of if you will face a disaster but when. Here are some keys to developing a BC plan.
- Ownership and senior management must be involved and promote and support the plan to the entire staff.
- Create a “Red Team” – these should be senior managers/department heads from all areas of the business. They should be involved in the creation and updating of the BC plan. There should be regular Red Team meetings and drills to test the plan and improve on weaknesses.
- Communication is critical not only for your internal operations but for your customers.
- Have redundancy in your phone system or the ability to have calls forwarded to a call center, answering service or even a cell phone so you can keep your customers updated on the disasters impact to your business.
- Create a special call-in number that employees can reach with messages giving updates on the recovery process and expectations for coming back to the office, etc.
- Disaster Recovery (DR) is a critical part of your BC plan. Many people think DR is the same thing as business continuity, but it is just one part of a complete BC plan. Downtime is the enemy, so it is important to know:
- The cost per hour of downtime for your business and the Recovery Time Objective (RTO), which is the duration of time within which a business must be restored after a disruption to avoid unacceptable consequences.
- How many hours can your business survive without access to its IT systems?
- How long will it take to recover and restore all systems and data from the DR systems you have in place today?
- Knowing these numbers will allow you to understand and justify the amount of money needed to invest in your DR solution. There are several excellent industry-leading solutions out there that every business can afford.
- Remote & Work from Home (WFH) workers need to be part of your plan.
- All the things needed for employees to work remotely must be considered and implemented as part of the plan.
- Remote office space away from the disaster with power and internet access.
- Internet access, laptop, VPN connection, cell phone or softphone are essentials.
- Thoroughly test your plan
- Find and fix weaknesses and gaps then test again and again.
Nearly 75% of SMB’s operate without a Business Continuity plan and 40% of all businesses close their doors permanently after a disaster. That is why a BC plan is essential to help ensure your business will survive after a disaster. There are good BC planning tools and templates online (some are free). Find one or create your own and get started today.
About The ASCII Group, Inc.
The ASCII Group is the premier community of North American MSPs, MSSPs, VARs and solution providers. The group has over 1,300 members located throughout the U.S. and Canada, and membership encompasses everyone from credentialed MSPs serving the SMB community to multi-location solution providers with a national reach. Founded in 1984, ASCII provides services to members including leveraged purchasing programs, education and training, marketing assistance, extensive peer interaction and more. ASCII works with a vibrant ecosystem of major technology vendors that complement the ASCII community and support the mission of helping MSPs and VARs to grow their businesses. For more information, please visit www.ascii.com.