Business continuity and disaster recovery plans are crucial for any business, regardless of size or industry.
Disruptions can occur without warning and at any time, and, if those disruptions are not adequately prepared for, businesses can suffer significant setbacks. In worst case scenarios, disruptions to an organization’s operations can even cause a business to fail completely.
Business continuity and disaster recovery plans can mitigate risk, reduce the negative impacts of those plans, and hasten recovery efforts.
Below, we’ll look at a few tips and best practices to follow when developing these plans.
Tips and Best Practices for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Here are five important guidelines that organizations should follow when developing their business continuity plans:
1. Have a business continuity plan
The most important practice to follow is to actually have a plan in the first place.
Having a business continuity plan will ensure that employees have a predetermined course of action to follow, which will improve response efforts to disruptions.
A plan will outline:
- The roles and responsibilities of business continuity team members. A business continuity team will be a cross-departmental team tasked with implementing the continuity plan. The plan should outline their roles and responsibilities clearly, while also listing their contact information.
- The sequence and timing of actions to undertake. The core plan activity will be based around a series of actions, and those activities will vary based on the purpose of the plan. Disaster recovery plans, for instance, specifically aim to restore lost functionality in the event of a disaster that disrupts the business’s normal functions.
- Training content designed to keep employees prepared. Training, as mentioned below, ensures that employees can actually implement the plan appropriately. If they are inadequately prepared, the plan may perform poorly – and, most likely, the desired outcomes will not be achieved.
A business continuity plan reduces the negative impacts of crises, disasters, and other events that can disrupt normal business operations.
2. Start by performing a business impact analysis
A business impact analysis will predict the effects of specific types of business disruptions.
Different scenarios should be examined, such as fires, power outages, and natural disasters, since each will affect a business in different ways.
An analysis of these scenarios will also cover other various factors that can influence the overall impact of a disruption, such as its timing and duration.
This information will prove instrumental in the development of a continuity, mitigation, prevention, and recovery strategies.
3. Have multiple plans for multiple scenarios
Since different disruptions will affect the organization in different ways, it is useful to have plans that cover a range of potential scenarios.
For instance, there should be continuity plans that cover damage to different parts of a business, such as:
- The supply chain
- The workplace
- The workforce
Each plan should be based on a business impact analysis, as mentioned above, which will then be used to determine an appropriate course of action.
4. Don’t just recover – prevent and mitigate
Recovery and restoration activities represent an important part of any business continuity plan.
However, these should also be augmented with other relevant strategies, such as:
- Disaster prevention. Many types of disasters are preventable, such as accidents, fires, or certain types of IT threats. A disaster prevention program can involve changes to existing procedures, the installation of new equipment, and other activities that can reduce the potential for certain types of disasters. Since such preventative measures can reduce or even remove the need for continuity efforts, they are well worth the investment.
- Risk mitigation strategies. In cases where disasters cannot be prevented, it is important to minimize the risks posed by those disruptions as much as possible. For instance, remote working policies and procedures can help employees stay productive when they are unable to work on-site at the business.
- Emergency response and disaster recovery plans. When disasters do affect an organization, responses should be swift and appropriate. These coordinated efforts should, among other things, aim to restore normal operations as quickly as possible.
A comprehensive approach to disaster recovery and planning will improve an organization’s ability to respond effectively in a variety of circumstances.
Ultimately, having a comprehensive disaster and continuity approach will improve the outcomes of response efforts.
5. Train teams and conduct exercises well before the plan is needed
There are many reasons to train employees before the actual response effort.
For instance, training helps to…
- Familiarize employees with their roles and responsibilities during a crisis or disruption
- Improve employee performance and organizational performance during the actual response
- Reveal potential flaws or weaknesses in the response effort
Training should be complemented by testing and exercises, such as simulations. By performing live-action tests and drills, teams will be able to ensure that the continuity plan will actually perform as expected.