Business continuity planning do’s and don’ts to keep your company running smoothly during a catastrophe

Business continuity planning do’s and don’ts to keep your company running smoothly during a catastrophe

No business is safe from disasters. Whether it's a tornado that destroys your office building, a data breach that compromises your customer information, or a war with a global impact, you need to be prepared for anything. That's where business continuity comes in.

While many business leaders know that a business continuity plan (BCP) is essential, not all businesses are able to effectively implement their plans. To help your business survive any catastrophic event, follow these do's and don'ts when developing a business continuity strategy.


Conduct a risk assessment

Conducting a risk assessment will help you identify the potential threats and vulnerabilities to your enterprise. This primarily involves knowing what could go wrong in case your business experiences a disaster, so you can take steps to mitigate the risks.

Some of the things you should consider when conducting a risk assessment include your business's size, location, and products and/or services. Based on these factors, you could determine the risks that your company could face in case of a disaster. Ideally, you'll be working with risk professionals that can conduct a risk assessment, or you could hire a professional IT services firm that can tailor disaster recovery solutions for you.

Test the plan

Testing your plan gives you enough leeway to spot and fix any gaps or vulnerabilities before an actual emergency occurs. There are several ways to test your BCP, one of which is to simulate a disaster situation. For example, you can shut down your office for a few minutes or a couple of hours and see how your employees and systems respond. You can also test your plan by conducting a mock evacuation or by simulating a data breach.

Take third parties into account

Many companies rely on third parties for business-critical processes. For example, your business may trust business associates, vendors, or suppliers to handle sensitive data. If these third parties are affected by a disaster and are unable to deliver services as a result, your business will be negatively affected too.

This is why your plan should include procedures for contacting third parties and factor in scenarios where they are unavailable or unable to help. This way, you'll know what your next steps should be.

Update the plan regularly

A backup plan that was viable two years ago (i.e., developed pre-pandemic), may no longer be effective today, thus the need to adjust your business continuity strategy in a way that aligns with today's threats. For instance, if your business happens to be located in a flood-prone area, you might have to adjust your BCP to account for increased flooding due to global climate change impacts.

In addition, you should use reliable data in your business continuity strategy to help you make better decisions. Doing so helps you avoid making risky assumptions regarding your business, the potential threats, and your ability to recover.


Underestimate the scale of calamities

Disasters are inherently unpredictable — you never know how a single earthquake, fire, or hacking incident could affect your operations, systems, and staff. For this reason, it's better to be over-prepared for worst-case scenarios.

You should also have a recovery site ready in case of a major disaster. Note that although cloud-based business continuity tends to provide better protection against disasters, cloud service providers may still store data in a physical location.

Overestimate the capacity of your senior management team

In an ongoing disaster, it's likely that not all of your company's senior executives will be able to make the decisions needed to get your business running again. This can be a major setback, which is why your plan should include procedures for making decisions without being fully reliant on senior management.

Consider setting up a temporary decision-making committee, including key staff from other departments like finance, human resources, and IT, and/or appointing a disaster management committee leader.

Assume that only a few key employees should be aware of disaster recovery protocols

All staff must be included in the overall plan and should be intimately familiar with your BCP strategy so that they know what to do in a crisis. More importantly, all employees must be kept in the loop about what's happening with the company and how it is coping during a disaster. They should also be familiar with company procedures for communicating with customers and other stakeholders during any unforeseen event.

By having a well-thought-out business continuity strategy, you'll be able to keep your business running smoothly in the coming year and beyond.

Learn what a robust business recovery plan should look like by downloading our FREE eBook, 7 Rules Even the Most Basic Backup & Disaster Recovery Plan Must Follow.

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