Business Continuity Basics: Management, Planning and Testing

Business Continuity

In our previous blogs, we discussed at length about business impact analysis and business continuity and disaster recovery, and how these concepts are a part of business continuity in general. Today, let’s take a deeper dive into business continuity and why every organization must have a business continuity plan to survive.

What Is Business Continuity?

Business continuity is the capability of an organization to overcome a disaster, whether natural or man-made, through the implementation of a business continuity plan.

Businesses today are susceptible to all kinds of incidents – breaches, cyberattacks, natural disasters, power outages and more. For a business to maintain its operations in the wake of such incidents, business continuity planning is critical.

Check out this short video on business continuity from BCI:

Business Continuity Management (BCM)

TechTarget defines BCM as a framework for identifying an organization’s risk of exposure to internal and external threats.

BCM provides a framework for building resilience and the capability for an effective response that safeguards the interests of the organization and its stakeholders, which includes employees, customers, suppliers, investors and the communities in which the organization operates.

Why Is Business Continuity Management Important?

BCM is a subset of a larger organizational risk strategy. Its strategies focus on the processes that need to take place after an event or disaster occurs. The aim of BCM is to restore the business to normal operations as efficiently and effectively as possible.

There are a growing number of industry guidelines and standards that businesses can leverage to start the process. Adopting and complying with BCM standards is a good way for companies to put a plan in place that will protect the business and ensure that it can continue in the aftermath of an incident.

Continuity of business operations following a disaster helps retain customers and reduces financial risk.

Who Is Responsible for Business Continuity Management?

A sound BCM strategy requires defining roles and responsibilities and resource planning for specific actions that need to be taken in the event of an incident.

Typically, organizational leaders should create, analyze and approve the BCM strategy and actively communicate the value of BCM and the risks of insufficient BCM capabilities.

All corporate functions and business units, including executive teams, IT teams, finance/accounting and more, must act within their areas of responsibility and help establish continuity response strategies.

Business Continuity Planning (BCP)

A business continuity plan is an integral part of BCM and outlines the risks to an organization due to an unplanned outage and the steps that must be taken to alleviate the risks.

It details the processes and the systems that must be sustained and maintained to allow business continuity in the event of a disruption.

What Are the Key Components of a Business Continuity Plan?

  • Recovery strategies and procedures: The procedures and actions to be taken to maintain system uptime are documented in the business continuity plan. This includes strategies you have in place to keep your business functional and prioritization of assets important to your business. Be sure to also identify potential threats to these assets.
  • Create a response team: This section of the plan deals with the team that will participate in the recovery process and the specific tasks to be assigned to them to get systems back up quickly.
  • Backing up data for recovery: Organizations must strategize how to back up their data – the mediums and locations to be used for backup and recovery for continuous IT operations. Backup options include on-premises appliances, virtual appliances, and direct-to-cloud backup.
  • Employee training: All employees in an organization must be trained to implement a business continuity plan whenever required. They should be aware of their individual roles and responsibilities and must be able to accomplish them in the event of a disaster.
  • Updating and maintaining the business continuity plan: Organizations are constantly evolving, and these changes, if not documented, may cause a ripple effect on outdated business continuity plans.

Business continuity plans must be continuously reviewed and updated for various scenarios. Plans should be tested regularly to ensure they work in the event of an outage.

Business Continuity Testing

BCP is not a one-time task, but rather a continuous process that an organization must undertake. For business continuity plans to be efficient, testing is absolutely essential.

Business continuity testing ensures that your BCM framework works. Regular testing reduces risk, drives improvements, enhances predictability and ensures the alignment of the plan with the ever-evolving business.

How Often Should a Business Continuity Plan Be Tested?

Testing business continuity plans annually or biannually is recommended by most experts. Here are three steps you can take to test the effectiveness of your business continuity plan.

  1. Create a BCP test plan: The first step requires the formulation of a test scenario and the generation of test scripts that should be executed by the response team.
  2. Test the plan: Business continuity plans may fail to meet expectations due to insufficient or inaccurate recovery requirements or implementation errors. That’s why these components are tested by simulating a crisis and getting the response team and the relevant resources to move into action.
  3. Retest after information update: In case of a process breakdown during testing, the test data is analyzed, the situation assessed, functions fixed and retesting is done to avoid the previous malfunction, until the test succeeds.

A well-structured business continuity plan enables organizations to mitigate the negative effects of a natural disaster or any other unexpected event and minimize downtime. Learn how Kaseya can help you keep your IT operations running with its enterprise-class backup solutions.

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