Downtime and disaster strikes when we least expect it. The good news, however, is that there are steps you can take to prepare for the worst. That’s where business continuity planning comes in. Here’s what you need to know about business continuity planning, and 6 tips to prevent your business from becoming one of the 25% of SMBs that fail to reopen after a disaster.
What a business continuity plan is
A business continuity plan outlines how you plan on keeping your business operational if there’s an unplanned or severe disruption to your usual services.
The business continuity plan includes, for example, data recovery and backup procedures, strategies for resuming office productivity, and communication guidelines. This means, although a disaster recovery strategy is part of any good business continuity plan, it’s only one part of a much larger strategy for keeping things moving during times of operational difficulty.
Why you should have a business continuity plan
Downtime costs businesses money. It’s estimated that the average infrastructure failure costs SMBs up to $100,000 an hour. Depending on how long the downtime persists, it may be impossible to recover.
A business continuity plan is the only way to reduce the time you spend inactive after disaster strikes.
What are some things that a business continuity plan needs?
A business continuity plan is only as good as its contents. Here are 6 things that you’ll find in every solid business continuity plan.
The key contacts
You must have clear points of contact for your employees in the event of a disaster. This means appointing someone to oversee the business continuity plan and providing their contact details to every team member. You should also have a contingency plan in case your overseer is unreachable.
Know how you’ll communicate with staff, suppliers, and customers if the systems go down. Ensure you have a secondary line of communication in place to reach people and communicate vital messages.
Understand the threats that could affect your business, whether this is a natural disaster, major cybersecurity event, or employee error, and rank these threats based on:
- How likely they are to occur
- The impact they could have on your operations
Understanding the threat you’re dealing with, and its possible ramifications, tells you how to respond should the need arise.
Suppliers and merchants
Have a means of contacting your utility suppliers, merchants, and landlord, and IT service providers should the systems fail. Knowing how you’ll contact these individuals in advance reduces the stress associated with disaster recovery.
Understand what your critical business operations are, and prioritize getting them up and running again. This should be stage one of your recovery. Implement your system recovery in phases to reduce the risk of error, system malfunction, and miscommunication.
Every business continuity plan needs a specific plan for handling natural disasters, such as hurricane or storm damage. Be aware of how likely it is that a natural disaster will affect your business and plan accordingly. You should also be aware of what you’ll do if, for example, a plumbing disaster floods the entire office and makes it uninhabitable.
Your business continuity plan is critical to keeping your company operational and your data secure if disaster strikes. By including these 6 things in your business continuity plan, you’ll reduce the chance of your SMB becoming another unfortunate statistic. For more information on how to design a business continuity plan that suits your particular business needs, contact us today.