Part of having a good business continuity plan is ensuring that when disaster strikes, the company is back up and running again like it had never gone down in the first place.
It’s ironic that as I type this, my own little business had “disaster” strike in the way of my email being hacked and spam email was sent to my contact list – at least I hope it was just my contact list. It amounted mostly to family and close friends, but just the fact that I had over 160 emails in my sent folder to various clients and resources, I am now trying to figure out just how much damage this might have done.
For those of you who have ever been in my shoes, whether small or large business, then you know how important it is to be up-and-running again.
Business continuity is basically an insurance policy, Bill Hall (no relation), president and CEO of New Albany, Ind.-based Boice.net, an information technology firm, told me.
Most people probably take a look at their policies once a year, which is also a good timeframe for a business continuity plan.
“As business grows and changes and competitors have different offers, you need to make sure you are available when customers and partners need information from you,” he said. “And, as you have more mobile workforce and different data, people expect that information 24-7.”
A business will have to make sure to deliver that and know what the points and places in its network that it can control if there is an outage.
Technology today has become a utility, Hall said. For example, when someone turns on a light switch, he doesn’t stop and think about how the light works, just that it either does or doesn’t.
As a result, technology is also a business enabler, with business owners using it to be more profitable and efficient, but having the business down is not part of the equation, he added. Having the network down for even an hour could probably make a company lose business it didn’t even know it had, Hall said.
The bad news is, most people only look at their business continuity plan after something happens. So how can a business go about fixing up its continuity plan?
Hall identified five factors that are the most important part of a plan:
One of the most important things is to evaluate how long your business can be down – called the “mean time operation,” (also known as recovery time objective) Hall said.
“Figure out how long you can be down, and how long you can be back to operation like it never happened,” he added. “How much can your business take with that happening to you?”
Over the past six months, his area of the country has been hit with tornadoes and ice storms. One client, a school, was totally lost, but because its network was in another area, the school was able to shift to another location and continue on.
“That’s why the insurance policy is the best analogy,” Hall said. “You have to know how much you are willing to spend, and how much are you willing to risk?”