Gartner’s business continuity survey shows that only 12% of the organizations were prepared to face the aftermath of the COVID pandemic. The disruptions caused by the Coronavirus are enough to highlight the vitality of disaster recovery and enterprise-level risk mitigation techniques. Together, they are called business continuity to address the issues caused by an emergency.
An emergency includes natural disasters, global pandemic, fire breakout, cyber-attack, or any other calamity that leads to disruption of the business.
Check the stats on the loss organizations have quoted due to unplanned outages.
Enterprises, regardless of the scale of operation, should have a business continuity plan (BCP) in place. The vulnerability of enterprises that are IT-oriented and rely on data and IT infrastructure is a notable factor. Therefore, having a proper business continuity plan is a requisite for them.
In this article, we’ll answer all your questions concerning business continuity. We’ll discuss business continuity, the ins and outs of a business continuity plan, and how you can leverage business continuity services to your benefit.
Answering Your Questions on a Robust Business Continuity Plan
1) What is business continuity?
It refers to adopting a planning and preparation strategy by the organizations intending to mitigate the risk during emergencies and running the business as usual (BAU). Sometimes a breakdown in the processes occurs, leading to disrupting the operations.
For instance, floods in one location can stop employees from working in that place. Workforce taking over from another location to support the operations keeps the business running. So, ensuring the execution of your critical business operations with ease is called Business Continuity.
Emergencies can break down your business anytime. Therefore, the knowledge of business continuity and utilizing it for the congruity of an organization’s performance is critical.
2) What is a business continuity plan?
A business continuity plan—often termed as a BCP—outlines how to implement business continuity for smooth operations. BCP provides guidelines on how a company should respond to an emergency. It is rather comprehensive and contains business contingencies. Based on the speculations, the BCP structures the preventive measures that you can undertake.
A BCP has a well-defined disaster recovery framework that enables you to handle the breakdowns in the IT networks, data centers, servers, the nodal systems, etc. The primary aim of a BCP is to get your business back on track and re-establish business functioning.
3) How can you leverage cloud for BCP?
Cloud service providers like Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS offer self-sufficient business continuity and disaster recovery services. You can store and protect your data on decentralized cloud servers and also designate a recovery site. It is no surprise that cloud is popular for BCP.
Azure offers a disaster recovery plan and backup strategy with a framework for resource management and failback testing.
4) How is BCP different from disaster recovery (DR)?
Disaster Recovery is a subset of the business continuity process. A BCP is an entire plan of keeping the business operations intact. However, DR focus on the re-establishment of the infrastructure and technological constructs. They compose the BCP of business impact analysis, a comprehensive risk assessment report, and a concrete strategy to implement business continuity.
DR comprises the evaluation plan for backups and the congruity among the systems. Though both BCP and DR are inter-related, we can consider them as different standalone concepts.
Carrying the business in case of the flood—as mentioned earlier—by shifting workload to a different location is business continuity. Falling back the IT infrastructure and data centers to a location far away from the disrupted site is DR.
5) How to prepare your teams for BCP?
Curating a well-thought plan to sustain the teams during emergencies is essential. While drafting the BCP, it is essential to note the team that plays a paramount role before, during, and after the disaster.
You should designate teams with a specific responsibility to narrow down the cost of execution. Each team should have a responsible leader who stands accountable for all the activities of the team.
Depending upon the requirements and the size of the organization, you can form different teams like recovery management, asset management, logistics support, communications, human resource, etc. Leveraging cloud services like AWS or Azure to collaborate effectively with the BCP is advisable.
6) What is the history of BCP?
In the late 1970s, BCP emerged as a comprehensive extension of DR with a dynamic structure. However, it was in the 1990s, when the market witnessed a hike in corporate globalization. Enterprises realized that there’s a need to think beyond disaster recovery. That was when BCP came into the picture. The business leaders realized that they need to diversify the traditional measure for recovery and risk mitigation to keep up with the ever-changing IT world.
7) What other tools support BCP?
Business continuity planning requires a bunch of tools that facilitate disaster recovery and prevent failure in case any emergency arises. The tools vary from documentation and communication tools to recovery services. The documentation and collaboration tools include the Microsoft Office suite, BCM planning software, and document storage.
Microsoft Azure offers a site recovery service under the DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service) model. It stores a replica of the application and other data in the cloud storage. Apart from this, communication tools like ENS (Emergency Notification System) and emails are also crucial.
Amazon AWS offers a complete package of business continuity and disaster recovery services, which are leveraged for risk mitigation. It has a self-reliant infrastructure that saves a copy of the entire data on decentralized cloud servers.
8) How should a BCP checklist look like?
A typical BCP should be a gist of the risk management strategy that is structured for the continuation of successful business operations. The BCP includes Identifying potential risks and recognizing the effects of the risks on regular functioning. Define, implement, and test the procedures for risk management.
The BCP checklist should include:
- Constructing a planning team
- Designing the BCP
- Conducting audits and business impact analysis
- Train the team
- Backup and protect data on cloud servers (AWS or Azure)
- Prefer a recovery site—cloud preferably otherwise on-premise
- Proactive communication
- Implement, test, and validate the model
Building the perfect BCP is a long process. Start with constructing a team of stakeholders who designs the BCP plan from scratch. Organize audits and business impact analysis to get an overview of how the system is working. Train and educate the members. Protect sensitive data and prepare multiple backups.
You can leverage Microsoft Azure DevOps or Amazon AWS for decentralized storage. Maintain a site recovery mechanism (again, cloud can help here).
Communication during tough times is important. Proactively interact with team members. Implement the model, test the loopholes, and validate it. Revise and repeat. Testing the plan annually or bi-annually is an excellent practice to check the frictions. This is what a comprehensive BCP plan looks like.
9) Which companies should follow BCP?
Whether you are a mid-level company or a startup, you should have a BCP in place. Irrespective of the scale and structure, every company should have a well-defined BCP. No industry is fool-proof when an emergency strikes. Risk affects all companies and verticals; only the losses differ. Therefore, regardless of the parameters, every company should have business continuity solutions.
10) How are BCP and DR related?
BCP is a superset of DR. In the late 1970s, the experts diversified the disaster recovery plan into a broader and better risk mitigation framework called the BCP. Therefore, both BCP and DR depend on each other and hence, inseparable.
Disaster Recovery is an important aspect of the business continuity process. While BCP is about the entire process, the DR is more about the technical aspects of the procedure. DR is more about keeping the IT assets and data live after the emergency.
11) Why should you partner with a BCP service provider?
A BCP service provider caters to you with comprehensive risk mitigation and disaster recovery plan. It also gives you a framework for business impact analysis to prepare in advance for future speculations.
You don’t need to invest your efforts and time in creating the plan from scratch, and your focus from your business shouldn’t stray away. You get a custom-made solution based on the size and nature of your business from a vendor.
Thus, partnering with a business continuity consulting company is a win-win situation.
12) Is BCP one-time activity?
Of course not! The IT world is ever-changing with the development of new technologies every other day. Therefore, you need to diversify your operations according to the IT landscape that is existent. You need to revise your BCP guidelines within every 2 years to ensure you are on par with the growing market.
13) Who are the key stakeholders?
Key stakeholders are the primary decision-makers. These are the people who design the BCP and implement it. The major and minor stakeholders include top-level management, IT and support teams, domain experts, employees, and service providers. They are the people who plan, test, and validate the BCP in practice.
In a nutshell, disaster recovery and risk mitigation are quintessential in today’s world of uncertainty. Who had imagined that a deadly pandemic like COVID-19 would hit the world so hard that the operations of many businesses would shut? Therefore, prevention is better than regrets. You never know what the future stores for you. So, it is always better to be prepared for all possibilities.
The adoption of a dedicated business continuity plan is your rescue from the uncertainties that the future holds. There are multiple BCP consultancies that you can opt for to get your organization’s future secure.