There’s a big difference between having data back-ups and being truly prepared for catastrophe
The two terms business continuity and disaster recovery often get confused, sometimes even by IT professionals. What’s the difference between the two? Disaster recovery, as we have discussed previously, is mainly a technical process for ensuring data gets restored quickly after your infrastructure is compromised. However, having a disaster recovery solution in place doesn’t necessarily mean that your business is going to recover from a catastrophe.
What are you exposing yourself to if you don’t have a good business continuity plan?
Business continuity is a more comprehensive solution that holistically prepares your entire company for severe operational disruption. While business continuity touches on data back-ups, it also includes other parts of your business that could be affected by a catastrophe, like your physical office environment, the location of your servers, telecommunications connectivity, staffing and personnel issues, and more.
Why SMBs Should Care About Business Continuity
Some SMBs think they don’t have the time or resources to develop a business continuity plan. But, the wisest among them realize how important it is to be ready for a serious setback. What are you exposing yourself to if you don’t have a good business continuity plan?
Don’t make the mistake that so many SMBs do in thinking that insurance has you covered. Will insurance cover the customers that you lost during the time you were down, or the delays that you’ll experience as you catch up with tasks you’ve missed? Probably not. All of those add up to irreparable harm to your business.
What do we mean by irreparable harm? Here are a few interesting statistics from the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA). According to their research, 40% – 60% of SMBs never recover from a catastrophe like server failure, a burst pipe, or a fire. Of the businesses that experience a disaster, 90% of those who don’t recover operations within 5 days go out of business within a year.
Reputational loss is just as significant as the direct financial losses you’ll incur if disaster strikes. It’s even more damaging in industries like finance and healthcare, where an organization’s image is crucial to attracting and keeping customers.
It’s not easy to quantify reputational damage, but according to the Reputation Institute, which monitors and ranks the reputation of 7,000 global corporations, intangible factors account for 84% of a company’s market value today. According to market research firm Ocean Tomo, reputation and other intangibles are between 2 and 3 times more important now than just a few decades ago.
Building a Strong Business Continuity Solution
After you decide to safeguard your company against catastrophe with a business continuity plan, what comes next? Building a comprehensive business continuity plan involves many steps. Here are some of the most important.
Start with Risk Analysis
Risk analysis evaluates and documents all the threats to your business, ranks them in their order of severity, and prepares you to address each one in order of importance. The risk analysis process must be thorough in order to be effective. Don’t just rely on employee feedback and input. Instead, you’ll want to analyze all possible threats, including IT infrastructure outage, natural disasters and weather, physical security threats, supply chain problems, power outages, property theft, and more. It’s often helpful to use a framework, like ISO27001, to guide this process.
Business Impact Assessment
Next, you’ll want to perform a business impact analysis (BIA) to identify the financial effect that the sudden loss of a business function will have. How long will it take your business to restore each of those functions? What’s the potential for damage to your reputation? Asking these questions will help you prioritize the threats and understand where to concentrate your effort.
Assemble Your Business Continuity Team
The business continuity team should be made of both managers and employees. This will provide your company with the mix of expertise and authority to create the most effective plan, and enforce those controls throughout the company. Although you’ll likely want a leader to spearhead the overall effort, delegating leadership responsibilities for individual departments or aspects of the plan can help ensure that each one is handled with care.
Test and Refine Your Plan
Business continuity planning, like any business-critical initiative, is not a one-time project. To ensure that your controls are up to date and effective, you must regularly audit and update your plan. Most business continuity experts recommend doing this at least once a year.
These updates should have both human and technical components. Make sure that your software and systems are being patched and updated. Firmware, the code that’s embedded in your network devices, must also be updated to ensure reliability. At the same time, any significant personnel or organizational changes should be reflected in your updated plan as well.
Is Your Business Secure?
Can you afford to be unsure? Request a call to schedule a Business Impact Assessment today.
Ensuring the Success of Your Business Continuity Plans
As threats continue to proliferate, the number of organizations interested in business continuity has continued to rise. According to recent research from big data firm Syncourt, 47% of organizations increased spending on business continuity in 2018.
But merely creating a business continuity plan doesn’t automatically mean it’ll be a success when real catastrophe strikes. Without buy-in from top executives, for example, a business continuity plan will likely fail to get the resources and attention it needs to succeed over the long term.
Another important problem can be a lack of a qualified partner. Few SMBs have the in-house talent needed to launch an effective business continuity strategy. Each stage, from the initial cost-benefit analysis, to the planning stages and maintenance of the strategy, is best done in cooperation with an experienced professional who knows what goes into reliable business continuity.
Business Continuity Service from Complete Network
Through its decades of experience, Complete Network has become an expert in developing and maintaining world-class business continuity plans for organizations in both the Charlotte, North Carolina, and Albany, New York metro areas.
If your organization is looking to help ensure its long-term prosperity, even in the face of catastrophic data loss or disaster, then we’re here to help. Our experts are always available at either 877.877.1840, or [email protected]. We’d love to answer any questions you have about business continuity, and help your organization realize a higher level of stability.