Elevating Business Continuity Practices

women in technology
April 10, 2024

Business continuity is the ability of a business to continue operating critical business functions during and after a disaster event. The goal of having a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is to ensure that a business can maintain critical functions and recover quickly from various disasters. Or at worst, minimise downtime while services are restored. This concept is not new, and we have touched on it in previous articles.

Some of the events that can cause a BCP to be enacted are natural disasters (floods, earthquakes), technological disasters (cyberattacks, hardware failure), man-made disasters (industrial accidents, civil infrastructure failures), and health emergencies (global pandemic, critical health and safety incidents).

Many disasters are out of your control to mitigate. What you can do is to implement measures to protect your business from the fallout of these events.

The initial safeguard you can implement is systems redundancy. If you have duplicate systems already in place when the primary system fails, they will take over and ensure your business operations continue. This is not recovery but continuity – and that is best.

The next is backups. We all know that backups are important, but maintaining effective backup procedures is critical for recovering from a disaster. While this may not provide the continuity that redundancy does, it is often much cheaper and easier to maintain.

Ideally, you should implement a 3-2-1 backup strategy: 3 copies of the data (original device, external hard drive, cloud storage), stored on 2 different types of storage (physical and cloud), in at least 1 offsite location (cloud) in addition to the onsite copies. These backups must also be tested regularly to ensure that they are usable.

An excellent eventuality to prepare for is ensuring your staff can work from alternative locations where viable, such as working from home. This will ensure that your business can continue to operate at least to some extent, while the primary business location is made available again. Many businesses have already experienced this requirement during the lockdown periods.

The last resort is insurance. It is the oldest, most commonly used, and best understood disaster recovery measure. If worst comes to worst, you will at least have financial support to recover and restore business functionality.

Having redundant measures or backup strategies is all well and good, but if nobody knows how to apply these strategies, the effort has been wasted.

Ensuring the right people are regularly trained in how to implement both the redundant and backup measures is critical. You must also ensure these measures are regularly tested to ensure they are operating as intended, else you may find them non-functional when you need them most.

Having a written and agreed upon course of action will allow you and your staff to respond rapidly to these disasters as and when they occur. These written plans are known as Business Continuity Plans (BCP) and Disaster Recovery Plans (DRP).

The best way to ensure BCP plans remain precautionary measures, is by integrating some of the following:

  • Regular risk assessments allow you to apply risk mitigation strategies and prevent some disasters before they even occur;
  • Training and awareness programs help your staff to better protect your business by being more vigilant in their daily tasks;
  • Cross-training and succession planning are also crucial in allowing critical roles to be filled by multiple people as required, if the primary person is unavailable.

Creating and implementing solid Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plans ensures your business will not only survive, but possibly even thrive through any disaster.

business continuity

Read Our Other Blogs