If a catastrophe hit your company today, will it be able to survive with minimal damage? Will it possible for your company to resume operations within 10 days of disaster? No, right? A business continuity plan is a series of steps that come under effect after a disaster strikes. Initially, BCP was designed for natural disasters, deliberately sabotages, but now it covers cyber-attacks, hardware fiascos and data breaches.
A business continuity plan helps a business get back to the normal routine. A well-made plan includes information related to the alternative seating arrangement, disaster recovery roadmap and process flow diagrams.
What is a Business Continuity Plan and What it does?
Business continuity planning and disaster recovery are subsets that are necessary to identify growing threats and then tackling them. A comprehensive business continuity planning not only saves a company from going bust but also saves a startling amount of money and time. The continuity planning 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.
What happens when there’s no Business Continuity Plan?
A study suggests that “93% of companies go out of business after suffering a data breach”. These companies had to shut business because they failed to maintain trusted backups. Another study reveals “96% of companies survived after ransomware attacks because they had proper backups”.
Now that we know, how big a difference one trusted backup can make, we must discuss the right way of creating a business continuity plan. If you are creating a BCP, you must follow these Dos and Don’ts.
1. Clearly define “who does what and when?”
Post-apocalyptic moments should be about making amends and not setting responsibilities. Companies must prepare their business continuity plans in such a way that it clearly defines, who does what and when after a disaster strikes. The plan must illustrate the responsibilities and timing conspicuously.
Using a visually based approach will improve its usability
Visual representations make it easier for employees to execute the plan in urgency. It saves them from the hassles of reading literature and deciphering its meaning. A perfectly-created BCP must include visuals that highlight the following:
- Priority of processes
- A priority of processes they need to be followed when deploying the BCP
- Touchpoints are key to restoring the most essential processes at the earliest.
3. Document the lesson learned in an actual disaster
In a technology-enabled world, where every business is at risk of experiencing data breach and ransomware, learning from other’s mistakes is rather a good strategy. When creating a continuity plan look at the experience of your contemporaries. Leverage their learnings, research a little about their coping mechanism and include important points in your plan.
When you study business impact analysis reports of other companies, you can spot loopholes in your security and cover them before it leads to a catastrophe. Investing time on industry reports can help you prepare well or entirely avoid the disaster.
Identify all kinds of threats and risks
The only way to create a full-proof continuity plan is to first understand the damages an attack or a disaster can impart. With a clear understanding of damages, one can easily devise a curing plan. Steps you can follow to identify all risks and create a plan accordingly are:
- Explore: Get to know what kind of risks your business is vulnerable to.
- Understand: Build a clear understanding of all damages industry-specific attacks and disasters can impart to your business.
- Consider preventive measures: Learn how contemporaries are coping up with the vulnerabilities and consider the ones that suit your budget and business the most.
- Plan to remove or accept these risks: If risks are big enough to impact revenues, processes or brand reputation then you must seek process improvement services. If vulnerabilities are innocuous and are incapable of bestowing enough damages then ignore them.
Document all identified risks as a part of the risk register
One common mistake every enterprise makes is that they fail to document every risk they come across. The cybersecurity safety journal suggests that enterprises should document every risk identified, no matter whether removed or not. By mentioning all risks that were identified over time, businesses can create a timeline, which will form the base for future studies and remedies.
Test your business continuity plans rigorously
A testing business continuity plan is perhaps the most important part here. When BCP is put to test if it reveals multiple things, which include existing vulnerabilities, lack of preparedness and need of tools to carry restoration post disasters.
Some of the highlights of testing BCP includes:
- Learn if they work or not: Such tests reveal whether your plan will work or not.
- Discover plan gaps and fill them: Puts under limelight all the hidden nuances that need to be addressed.
- An opportunity to address and close: Allows businesses to discover new vulnerabilities and cover them up.
- Take corrective actions over time: Makes it easier for businesses to identify areas of BCP that requires more work.
Also Read: Your One-Stop Guide to Penetration Testing
Don’t restrict your plans to regional disaster
Businesses often build a business continuity plan by considering their location. For example, a company based in New York considers snowstorms while creating BCPs, while companies in Oklahoma considers Tornado. In contemporary times, where global warming and climate change are bringing havoc, it gets indispensable for businesses to think beyond regional disasters.
Preparing a plan that is free of restrictions related to nature as well as a man-made disaster will protect companies under all circumstances. One such comprehensive plan will ensure that the company gets back into the business at the earliest irrespective of the disaster or attack.
Don’t rely on IT Department for creating a BCP
Since Disaster Recovery is a subset of Business Continuity Planning, the IT department needs to play an instrumental role in creating a BCP. When companies rely solely on the IT department, they miss important points like seating arrangement, customer service restoration, and raw material management which are as important as data recovery.
IT departments are only concerned about disaster recovery and data restoration. They work around two focal points namely “Recovery Point Objective” and “Recovery Time Objective”. Expecting them to create a plan that includes alternative seating arrangements and customer service restoration is a waste of time.
3. Don’t create just for the sake of creating
Companies often do things just for the sake of doing it. Business Continuity Planning for a long time has served as a document that no one refers to. The changing landscape has coaxed enterprises into considering BCP as a necessity but some companies are still under the same old impression of it being a 300 paged book that serves no purpose.
Businesses must create, test, improve and document a business continuity plan that is both effective and robust. With one such plan in place, enterprises will be able to minimize the damage and get back in business at the earliest.
Cyberattacks and natural disasters together form a lethal combination that is coming to haunt businesses. Irrespective of size, location, and industry, every enterprise is now facing threat either from man-made or natural disasters. While it is tough to save yourself from coming under the radar, it is quite possible to devise a paradigm that helps you minimize the damage.
A well-documented and tested business continuity plan will help businesses save themselves from going extinct. Let alone the finalized plan, the process of creating a BCP can help businesses identify and remove vulnerabilities.