It’s June 1st in Georgia. Welcome to another hurricane season.
This is the time of year that often sees a renewed interest in disaster recovery and business continuity planning. The ability to maintain operations, or business continuity, is obviously critical all the time. But with the imminent threat of natural disasters that are a reality of life in the Coastal Empire, planning for service interruptions and recovery becomes a more tangible concept to many. So use the following items to help make your business continuity plan more disaster-proof.
Business Continuity Plans’ Commonly Overlooked Items
When creating a plan to recover from a disaster, it can be easy to overlook items that may lead to serious issues when the plan is put to the test. Following are four items that many companies don’t work through ahead of time that can lead to extended downtime during and after a disaster.
- Business Impact Analysis (BIA) – A thorough BIA should be performed to identify what impact various events will have on the company’s operations and where best to focus resources-prepping. First, identify possible issues that could occur: Hurricane, Flooding, Power Loss, Blizzard, Internet Outage, Malware or Ransomware Attack, etc. Then determine the likelihood of the event occurring and the impact it will have on your organization if it happens. Consider the impact to physical structures, machinery, physical security, computer systems, employees, and communications. While you don’t want to completely ignore unlikely items, such as a blizzard in Georgia, the items with High probability and High impact should be your primary focus when building your plan.
- Gap Analysis – A Gap Analysis looks at your plan for holes in expectation versus reality. For instance, assume you make backups of your servers every night and your staff understand they will have to re-enter work performed that day in the event of a disaster. If your plan doesn’t address taking the physical items that need to be entered when the disaster is declared, this work is very likely lost. To fill this gap, you will need to address gathering the necessary paperwork or increasing the backup intervals to lessen the potential loss of data.
- Loss of Key personnel – Plans commonly fail to address the loss of key personnel. The loss could be as simple as someone being unable to make contact. This could be a key decision maker or someone who does a specialized task. If there aren’t adequate procedures written so someone else can fill-in and knows when to do so, this hole in the process can create confusion that can quickly snowball in an actual event.
- Physical copy of plan – This may seem so simple, but after spending all the time and effort building their plans, organizations regularly forget to have updated, physical copies of the plan available. Storing the current plan digitally where all staff can access it is important. But in the event that computers aren’t available during the disaster, the plan will do little good if no one can access it.
BONUS: After an event occurs and you are back to normal operations, you should schedule a debrief. This discussion should take place as close after the disaster as possible and involve key people to go over what worked and what didn’t. Done effectively, this will allow immediate changes to be made to improve the plan, addressing issues before everyone forgets. And as a best practice, Business Continuity plans should be regularly reviewed and updated, especially after any major change to operations.
Next Steps for Your Business Continuity Plan
Whether you’re just getting started or updating a comprehensive and battle-tested plan, the items above should help strengthen your business continuity plan. Click here for additional resources such as checklists or use the tags below to find more related information. Please feel free to reach out with any specific questions here.