66% of small businesses cannot sustain business activities after a data breach, according to the TechRepublic. Other than the costs that pile up from a single breach, the loss of customer trust will limit the chances of gaining back the foothold that they had in their business. However, for businesses with a business continuity plan, getting back to their former glory doesn’t have to feel like a huge challenge.
A business continuity plan helps determine how employees, the business and the partners are supposed to proceed with their roles while the disaster situation is being diffused. As such, it is pivotal to build your business while being prepared for the worst.
Here are the nitty-gritty details about formulating a great business continuity plan:
Business Continuity vs. Disaster Recovery
A disaster recovery plan mainly deals with restoring your IT infrastructure to an optimal condition after a disaster. For instance, in the event of a data breach, you might need to assess your server monitoring software and identify what led to the loss of data. Once identified, you can patch any software vulnerabilities or address the situation.
However, disaster recovery is a part of the entire business continuity plan. With business continuity, the plan is to ensure that the business can proceed in a borderline normal manner as the disaster gets resolved. In most cases, you ought to have proactively conducted a business impact analysis to determine how various factors would affect your business cost-wise and how to mitigate the risk.
Why a Business Continuity Plan Matters
In the case of IT infrastructure, you can rely on the IT department to use the various disaster recovery tools to remedy the situation. What about normal business processes? The future of your company relies greatly on people and processes, and regulators will typically allow a small window to do business without certain processes before being denied a license to do business.
Additionally, in a world where data breaches like the Equifax data breach seem to be the norm, the customer’s expectation of business security is quite high. Luckily, the silver lining of data breach disasters is that it can be the right time to showcase your business as one that is ready for such situations. A business continuity plan helps to cement customer trust while improving the market share of the business.
The Anatomy of a Great Plan
At the core of your business recovery plan, you should commit to business impact analysis for any process if it were to be unavailable for any period from a day to a week. Your planning process should include:
- The scope of the plan
- Key areas of the business that can be affected
- Critical functions
- How key business aspects and business functions depend on each other
- Identify the maximum acceptable downtime for any function or process
- Create a plan to diffuse the situation
A disaster recovery (DR) plan should also be part of your business continuity plan. Instead of assuming that your current DR plan caters for everything, assess the situation of your organization to identify any loopholes. You should also be open to discussing with members of your staff who have been through a business disaster before to get some insights.
Test the Plan
A tried and tested plan will give your organization confidence in times of disaster. You can either choose to test it through a walkthrough or even table-top exercises. When testing, expose your organization to credible and challenging controlled situations to improve critical thinking. While most businesses test their plan once in two years, you should do so depending on your employee turnover rate, with a preference for testing the plan often.
Disasters can be unpredictable, but how you come out of them can be improved by a business continuity plan. For the plan to be successful, all hands should be on deck. Consider the ideas above to poise your business for success in the face of disaster.