At its core, business continuity exists so that your business can stay open—no matter what happens. And, although business continuity planning should involve everything from succession planning to emergency communication strategies, one of your most important areas of focus should be business technologies. The technologies you use every day keep your business alive. And if uptime is how your business succeeds, costly downtime is certainly one way for it to fail. In fact, ITIC reports that downtime can cost enterprises as much as $1 million to over $5 million in a single hour! While your stakes may be smaller, how long could your business afford to hemorrhage money?
So, rather than suffer the ravages of downtime, let’s look at four things you can do to ensure business continuity.
Build a Business Continuity Team
Business continuity often involves people from multiple departments. Before you develop a plan, it’s wise to identify the team leads who should be involved in planning. This will help you create a more comprehensive plan, while also giving department heads an opportunity to voice their concerns and opinions. It’s also wise to appoint a project manager who can gather necessary information from team leads, compile it, and see the project through to completion. Smaller businesses might not need a full team but should still appoint someone who can lead the project and be responsible for delivering a completed plan.
Develop a Thorough Business Continuity Plan
Your business continuity team’s goal is to establish a thorough, documented business continuity plan. The full breadth of a business continuity plan is more than we have space for here, but your team should be answering one critical question: if the worst happens, what will we do? You should consider how you’ll handle anything that might prevent your success. Most plans cover things like:
- Emergency and post-disaster operations
- Emergency and post-disaster communications (internal and external)
- Succession plans for key executives
- Strategies for managing tax or legal challenges
- Plans for finding alternative vendors
- Data breach management plans
- Backup and disaster recovery strategies
Use Downtime Prevention Solutions
A business continuity plan includes steps to take if something happens, meaning it’s reactive in some ways. But you must be proactive when it comes to preventing downtime. As such, among the best ways to ensure business continuity is to implement an effective backup and disaster recovery solution. That way, if your IT network has an issue—whether it’s a ransomware attack or hardware failure—you can keep these critical systems up and running. For some of the most effective backup and disaster recovery solutions, check out StorageCraft, an Arcserve company.
Test and Audit Plans and Processes
A plan is critical to your success, but as Mike Tyson once said, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. Before you’re forced to test a plan in real time, consider which parts of your plan you can test ahead of time. Things like emergency protocols and backup and disaster recovery processes are obvious choices. Schedule a day when you can run drills that help employees understand what to do if the worst happens. On the IT side, test failover procedures and system recoveries so you can minimize downtime if something bad happens. As you test, make relevant updates to your business continuity plans. A continuous refinement process will help you keep your business running smoothly, even under dire circumstances.
According to Mercer, roughly half of businesses do not have a business continuity plan. This means that globally, half of all businesses are vulnerable. Employees, customers, and everyone who counts on a business could be in jeopardy should something bad happen. So, rather than be another business without a plan, take the time to develop yours quickly—you never know what might happen down the road.