Need for Business Continuity Planning
A comprehensive Business Continuity Plan not only safeguards a company from going bust but also saves a startling amount of time and money. The continuity plan can also double as a pivotal paradigm for businesses that are suffering loss and needs to cut cost.
Apart from clearly mentioning succession roles, individual responsibilities, and resource management, the plan also urges enterprises to create and safeguard multiple backups of data. Business Continuity Planning is better than insurance because it covers the damages and also offers a second chance.
A business continuity plan is comprehensive and includes everything from a plan for data restoration to the roles and responsibilities of every individual in case of an attack or calamity.
Understanding Business Continuity Planning
The simplest way of understanding BCP is to see it as a contingency plan that saves the day. Be it natural disasters, hacking events, or configurations are gone wrong, BCP ensures that core business processes are not impacted.
Investing in BCP not only allows organizations to focus on scaling, innovation but it also offers additional advantages like
- Allows third-party organizations to trust your business
- Saves companies from going out of business after data breaches
- Data recovery assists with an instant resumption of impacted services
- Trusted backups allow organizations to convince customers about data security
How BCP helps survive Pandemics and Man-made Disasters
90% of small enterprises go out of business after just one data breach also 96% of organizations that survived a ransomware attack had trusted backups. Data management and data recovery is an indispensable part of business continuity plans. Such data backup can be easily restored from a specified period. The only catch with such data backup is that they are time-bound and needs to be installed within the stipulated timeline.
Here’s how a BCP helps Survive a Pandemic
- The BCP diagram helps the team to resume processes one by one based on the priority
- The BCP carries details of alternate seating arrangement
- The data backup ensures early resumption of disrupted services
- BCPs have clear rules for initiating Work from Home whenever required
Critical Steps Involved in BCP
1. Risk Assessment
The basic need for BCP arises because of the risks involved in running a business. No matter how innocuous or illicit a risk is, it must be assessed and considered as a threat when creating a robust BCP.
Stakeholders who are habitual of handling risks on their own often overlook innocuous risks like minor server misconfiguration, which later leads to substantial damages. In the recent past, we saw how inconspicuous server misconfigurations lead to major database error and exposed over millions of users.
Risk assessment is the phase where both major and minor threats are identified either by traversing the entire system or based on prior experience of key stakeholders. One such process where risks are identified first solves a major problem and readies the organization to fight all kinds of possible threats.
Here’s how Risk Assessment should be carried out:
- Location Prone Risk: Natural disaster is one of the biggest factors that disrupt businesses. Businesses prefer a location because of the tax subsidies provided by the local government and also because of the cheap labor. Organizations often overlook the risk to business due to geology of the location but when creating BCP one cannot overlook such factors.
- Risks due to Data Involved: Fintech and E-commerce are on the radar of hackers because they involve cardholders’ data. So look for threats that your business faces due to the kind of data it stores and operates on.
- Risk due to Nature of Business: Since banks are often faced with robbery threats, they insure their business and have security guards monitoring their premises. Ransomware insurance is perhaps the way for online businesses. You can also include such threats in your risk assessment for BCP.
2. Business Impact Analysis
Let’s try to understand this with examples, a popular e-commerce marketplace’s servers were attacked and cardholders’ data were accessed. Now that the risk has transformed into an event, what is going to be the impact of this event on business?
The e-commerce store might face the following challenges because of a data breach
- PCI DSS inquiry that can lead to a fine somewhere between $5000-$100,000
- Maligned brand reputation leading to a huge percentage of customer churn
- Fines by local authorities and government
- The permanent ban by PCI Council for failing to protect users’ data
All these 4 outcomes listed here are the business impact of a data breach. Similarly, varied businesses are going to have impacts that are unique to their industries.
When preparing a Business Continuity Plan, it is critical to conduct one such business impact analysis. Earlier identification of challenges that can occur after a disaster has struck will help organizations prevent those mishaps. Here’s how e-commerce marketplaces can benefit from business impact analysis:
Now that they know failing PCI DSS Compliance can lead to a breach and additional fines, they must furnish the 12 requirements of PCI certification.
Abide by all the data security norms of the country they are operating in like GDPR for European Nations and CCPA for California.
3. BCP Development
A business continuity planning is not specific to any process or department, it generally overhauls the entire processes that are essential for running an organization efficiently. Once all the risks are identified and their business implications are noted, it is necessary to involve stakeholders from varied departments and build a plan that is easier to implement and has a robust impact.
Business Continuity Planning: The Critical Steps
- Involve important stakeholders: When professionals from IT, HR, Marketing, Implementation, and other important verticals sit together to create BCP, it gets easier to ensure that all preparations for the resumption of all processes are done.
- Identifying Team Members: Creating, maintaining, and implementing BCP will require the organization to build a team that is responsible for everything related to BCP. The team must consist of players, who are experienced and professional in their approach. One member from all teams will help in ensuring that the BCP covers important aspects of all processes and departments.
- Process Specific Challenges: For example, call center agents cannot rely on work from home because it puts customer data at risk by compromising the requirements of PCI DSS certification. Considering all such processes or department-specific challenges will make it easier for the organization to prepare a comprehensive contingency plan.
- Create a Flowchart Diagram of BCP: A flowchart diagram depicting varied processes and the order in which it needs to be implemented is of utmost importance. A BCP is incomplete without one such flowchart because when disaster strikes, there will be no time of reading documents. One flowchart will help team members implement it with great ease and grace.
4. Implementation and Training
The implementation and training phase starts with the identification of team members for BCP management. The team together will be responsible for implementing a mammoth task with multiple sub-units. Here’s how the 4th critical step of Business Continuity Planning should be carried out:
- Bringing the team together and allowing them to get well-versed with the business continuity plan.
- Training: This is where the role of the BCP community comes into play. The team needs to prepare an entire organization for one such unfavorable event where BCP will be implemented.
- The training will also prepare employees to work from home if a pandemic like COVID-19 strikes. The training generally involves important aspects like raising system requirement requests, ensuring data privacy, and upholding compliance regulations.
- Establish Touchpoints: Once a disaster occurs, it is obvious that employees will be scared to visit the workplace, in such a situation, it makes sense to have clearly defined touchpoints. Through training, all employees must be informed about the varied touchpoints and help them get in touch when disaster strikes.
These touch-points will include
- Professionals who need to be informed about an impending disaster
- Detail of professional to seek guidance once the event has occurred
- A touchpoint to report the business impact of the event
- Information of carrying out day to day processes after the disaster
5. Testing and Exercise
Testing is perhaps the only way of identifying what is lacking in an organization’s business continuity planning. Testing will not only expose the vulnerabilities but will also offer great insight that can assist with the overall improvement of the continuity plan.
Here’s why testing and exercise are important and must be carried out vigorously
- Loopholes: Once you start testing all the steps meticulously, you will come across junctures where the plan will fail. Improvising at all such junctures is perhaps the most important thing. Later note all those improvisations into the BCP and make it robust.
- Stakeholders’ Input: Testing BCP in the presence of important stakeholders will allow you to gain insight into industry leaders. All such stakeholders can contribute and help you create a BCP that is highly effective and useful.
6. Timely Review and Upgrade
Before COVID only a handful of organizations had work from a home clause in their business continuity plan. In the post-COVID era, every organization will be looking for the WFH clause, this is the classic case of timely review and upgrade of BCPs.
There are multiple benefits of timely review and upgrade, which includes
- The new cyber threat like credential stuffing that didn’t exist when you created BCP the last time.
- Options like Work From Home that are in demand due to global economic condition
- New compliance regulation that needs to be studied and its requirements being added to the BCP to ensure compliance even after a disaster
- Strengthening the BCP based on the inputs that were recorded during exercise and testing of the BCP
The array of incessant changes in technology, the global economy, and business paradigms are coaxing organizations to acclimatize now and then. Owing to the global economic condition, businesses are always upgrading. A BCP must also be tested robustly and updated incessantly to fight all innocuous challenges that may occur in the future.
By adhering to the mentioned steps here, an organization can build a BCP that covers the entire pool of challenges their impact on the business. A robust BCP will help you avoid the damage that occurs due to in operation after a disaster.