Business Continuity management (BCM) concerns identifying the parts of your organisation that you cannot afford to lose such as important data, stock, staff etc and then looking at how you can maintain these parts if an incident occurs.
Any incident whether it’s large or small, and whether it’s an accident, natural or deliberate can cause major disruption to your business. In fact it is estimated that 80% of businesses affected by a major incident either never re-open or close within 18 months.
The key to surviving such an incident is planning. If you plan now rather than waiting for it to happen you stand a much better chance of recovering quickly and getting your business back up and running.
Where to start?
Taking the first few steps towards a business continuity plan can seem like a very daunting task. Here is some useful advice on how to ensure your organisation has ‘business continuity.’
Business continuity management is not just about creating a plan – progression and ownership should continue after the initial planning stage. Equally, business continuity management should not be seen as just ticking boxes, instead it must form part of the whole culture of an organisation. Often the perception of business continuity management is ‘all we need to do is create a plan’ with lots of information, with little thought as to how it can be seen through should disaster occur.
The first steps are to identify:
• What are the organisations key products and services?
• What are the critical processes required to deliver these products/services, specifically what you would need to recover?
• Within what minimum timeframes will recovery be required?
• What resources will be needed to implement business continuity measures?
The questions above will give the ability to identify the resources equipment, staff, systems etc, which then requires constant reviewing and confirmation so the plan remains up to date.
Next it must be identified how long the business can survive before the organisation needs to be back to normal operations – most importantly from a financial or reputation perspective.
Look at what alternative arrangements are already in place;
• Dual site IT.
• Maintenance contracts.
• Other 3rd party arrangements.
• Manual workarounds.
• Other alternative working arrangements.
The business may already have existing arrangements that can be added to the review as part of the business continuity management process. It’s possible that with a dual IT site, with some changes of equipment, software configurations and locations, as well as better resilience, a business continuity answer is also achieved. When reviewing maintenance contracts, consider how long the organisation can wait for repairs before it needs to invoke business continuity or disaster recovery arrangements – and does this fit with the businesses minimum time frames as to when the business needs to be back to normal operations.
If documentation already exists, reference it rather than trying to re-create it. As well as this make sure it is stored in a common place (both electronically and physically) and ensure change management/version control procedures exist.
Storing documents in a common place (with controlled access) that are regularly backed up correctly means that if a disaster should arise, the up-to-date documents required to assist in the recovery will always be available.
Constant review is the key to Business continuity management as it is an on-going process that is only be as good as the last time it was reviewed and exercised. At least once a year a business continuity plans should be tested.
Things to consider….
1. Have you considered financial / legal / regulatory penalties that could be imposed if you fail to provide a critical service which you are contracted to do?
2. Consider how long each of your business functions / critical services could continue during a lengthy power loss (e.g. of several hours’ duration).
3. Now think about a prolonged loss of power (e.g. lasting 24 hours or longer).
4. Which of your critical business functions services would be jeopardised if your building was evacuated for a week / month with all access denied?
5. How many staff would be needed to continue to cover critical tasks and how would you accommodate them?
6. How would you continue to trade if a large number of staff were absent due to ill health (e.g. a flu epidemic)?
7. Have you an alternative building in which to work effectively? Is this sufficient? Can staff work from home?
8. Do you need access to any services not currently available at your temporary site?
9. Do you use any special software or stationery such as forms? How long can you manage without these and how long would it take to replenish stocks?
How Can We Help?
We have a team of highly experienced consultants that provide effective support to your Business Continuity, IT Service Continuity or Disaster Recovery requirements.
For more information on Business Continuity Consultation services please contact us on 01392 824 022 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.