June 04, 2020 By Angelina Eillott Category: Online Business

Business interruptions are unpredictable and can put long-term disruptive impacts unless prepared with a robust business continuity plan. Interruptions of any kind including workplace violence, IT outage, power failures, supply chain disasters, and more account for business operation disruptions. The best is to have a disaster recovery or business continuity plan. We know how disastrous it is for small to colossal enterprises to resume operations amid the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak. Not every business has sustained the pandemic hit. Working the way through a disaster preparedness response to bolster your business resiliency is worth time, effort, and investment for business leaders or CIOs.

However, to be successful in handling a disaster, you must have a tested and current
business plan in the hands of incident responders to quickly resolve.

What Is Business Continuity?

Business continuity refers to how quickly an organization resumes its operations or maintains its functions in the face of disasters. An outline of the BC plan highlights key threats like cyber security, fires, or utility disruptions and involves a business process, people, assets, business partners, and stakeholders.

In comparison with a disaster recovery plan which is solely designed to restoring IT infrastructure disruption as a small part of the business continuity plan, business continuity plan has a broader view to maintain operations of the entire organization.

Possible Service disruption Effects

A company can experience several business disruption threats. Besides, industry-specific threats, there are common threats every business is likely to have its impact on its continuity.

Supply Chain disruption

The deluge of extreme weather, labor unrest, and IT downtime can force supply chain to delay its operations. The logistics experience a decline in cargo import, a lost business opportunity for delayed shipments. Supply chain management is inter-related to dozens of services such as electrical power, water, fuel, communications, transportation’s, waste management, and facilities. An issue with any of the services can impede the ability to continue with required supplies. Hence, supply chain experiences potential impacts.

Workforce Disruptions

Public health and safety can be at stake due to the threats from cyclone, tornados, and other nature-related disasters. The fiery of nature can do the damage to the property, asset, and critical infrastructure.

Global pandemics like Covid-19 can send businesses shutting down for indefinite time. The health concern may push everyone for home quarantine and force workforce to work from home. This is a time when businesses need to equip the communication procedure.

Besides, these primary threats, we can face possible threats from disasters like cyber- security attacks and utility failures.

Customer Service Disruption

Customer is key to keeping your business running. But, should a disaster occur, it affects your contact center as power outage is most likely coupled with difficulties for employees to reach the center. Any disaster or pandemic seems to disrupt your customer service operations, and hence customers being denied the service they require, businesses are unable to provide seamless services. Employees don’t get to the contact center while power outages or other disturbances cause a trigger to pay heed to customers.

Cybersecurity Attacks

Your company’s technical assets can be at high risks by a hacker. As we know, it refers to information leaks, SQL injection attacks, ransomware, and other service attacks.

Threats from cyber security attacks can be put forth a great level of harm to consumers as well as businesses. This demands a higher degree of investigation to data centers. Similarly, the effects can be so dreading, IT cannot rescue the threats.

Provided the human propensity to look on the brighter side of the disaster, disaster being an unlikely event, many business leaders are highly likely to overlook the need for a disaster recovery plan for business continuity.

Anatomy of a Business Continuity Plan

Many businesses do not have any BC plan. If you don’t have such, conduct a business impact analysis (BAI). This is a major assessment tool helping you identify the most vulnerable areas and possible sources of losses in case those services malfunction for several days.

Prepare the emergency response plan and keep it ready for readers to reassess it, identify processes, and implement recovery steps.

And your emergency response plan must include the following emergency preparedness response steps.

  • Identify objectives of the plan.
  • Identify key function areas and business requirements.
  • Identify critical functions or dependencies.
  • Identify the length of downtime for each service affected.
  • Build a plan to restore operations.

Also Read : [Top 3 Most Exciting Secrets to Building Your Travel App in 2020 ]

1. Identify objectives of the plan

The goal you set for your business continuity plan must include preparation hours, drill or training times, and budget. However, it also covers people outside of your IT team or your entire organization.

You can include teams in your organization having experience in addressing and controlling disaster successfully. Get them onboard. The insights they share help you bolster your business continuity plan.

2. Identify key function areas and business requirements

You need to examine and evaluate each aspect your organization so that you can understand core needs of your business. To do this, you must identify areas of your business likely to have the most damage to your overall business operations.

  • Some critical business functions include,
  • How many departments are likely to be affected?
  • What is the likelihood of the disaster and its effects on the operation?
  • What is the total revenue loss as function remain incomplete?
  • Does the business disruption impact your company’s image?

At the same time, you must evaluate if you can run your process offsite too. In this case, work from home is a nice option to continue operations. Get a plan ready to keep your staff and sales & support team for remote work opportunities.

3. Identify critical functions or dependencies

Here, as part of the business impact analysis, you must proactively identify possible threats that are likely. If you think you have sensitive areas that could arise during the disaster, you must keep a watch to find its tolerable downtime.

One of the key activities to ensure you can proactively address the situation and reduce its business impact is to exercise drills or tests.

4. Develop a training curriculum

It is not that you have always expert incident responders to tackle the disaster. The most effective way is to train your existing workforce with a planned drill and test curriculum so that you can you can prepare your employees to combat the disaster.

Some important readiness parameters employee must display are,

  • High comprehension of incidents
  • Agile responses to disasters
  • Understanding of misinformation
  • Be aware of unconfirmed reports across social media channels
  • Proactive approach to using communication resources for higher critical situations

5. Build a plan to restore operations

This is what the most important business continuity plan. You must monitor your restoration plan time-to-time as your business evolves. As you go, must think the following way,

  • Current potential to recover from the threats
  • Ways you can take up to improve it
    Based on the analysis, we can classify your disaster recovery into three key procedures,
  • Prevention strategies Before the critical event occurs, you need to undertake a preventative measure to reduce the impact of the   disaster post incident.
    • Have your backup ready
    • Make generators available
    • Build an alternative communication network for both internal and external team
    • Remote work solutions
  • Response strategies
    In an emergency response plan, you must have a detailed emergency plan ready. It should
    detail how each member of a contingency team must act during a critical event. However,
    you must prioritize the employee safety ahead of anything. All of this, you must ensure your
    communication channels are all good in providing real-time feed.
  • Recovery strategies
    This is the most crucial stage to get the business back to its normal and keep the operation running. Here, in this plan, you must assign role to designated persons responsible to recover the disaster.Things are important for recover strategies,

    • Manual workaround
    • An alternative facility to be used an interim center

    Additionally, the stakeholders must know the exact length of recovery period. Here, you plan must include Recovery Time Objective (RTO). Based on this plan, you can resume operation in days or may be in weeks.

    Using a Recovery Point Objective (RPO), you can restore your data center and also preventany data loss.

    As part of business continuity plan infused in your operation maintenance plan, you can use various modes of technology to prevent impacts triggered by disasters.

    As you leverage the current technology trends, you can improve the business continuity plans.

Cloud computing:

Ensuring cloud computing for your business continuity plan is a win-win situation even if the disaster strikes. It is a benefit for your business and fulfills your business requirements.

Virtualization:

As you choose to move to the cloud, this opens up avenues to leverage virtualization and hence your team can continue the operation.

Mobile computing:

Since employee safety is the highest degree of priority, using mobile computing helps organizations stay connected by enabling crisis communications and easy localization of employees.

Social network:

Communications are active across employees and even with the global team at large.

Reevaluate your Business Continuity Plan

The faster you prepare your business continuity plan, the quicker it takes to be overshadowed for most critical tasks need to be addressed. The BC sits idle and with time it is of no use.

Also, with technology evolving and staff replaced with new staff, your BC plan needs to be reevaluated to adjust to the current scenarios and environment. It helps you identity areas that needs to be modified.

Implement a table-top exercise or structured walk-through to review the BC plan. Each of your department must take part in this exercise and put the plan in action.

Ensure awareness of BC plan across your organization

Your business continuity plan must have support from the top down.

Any business continuity plan must be created in tandem with inputs from senior management. The plan needs to remain updated every time it is dispatched to the subordinated to leave no rooms for ambiguity. Also, management takes responsibility to foster user awareness. Here, business unit managers or HR staff must distribute and plan among employees to train them. So, when everybody in the organization takes a proactive participation in the business continuity plan, it gets more credibility and urgency.

Drawing an ending line

If you want to spend money after the business continuity plan or risk the disaster, it is an executive decision. Hence, it must be an informed decision and all your stakeholders must be ready to get it. Never go for a half-hearted business continuity plan. It can be a huge failure. Always have a better risks assessment and be ready to mitigate various risks.

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