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Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

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Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Business continuity refers to an organization’s ability to continue functioning even during a disaster, and requires both preparation and planning for continuity.

Businesses should develop an emergency contact list, data backup locations and equipment locations, employee names who will serve on a continuity team and test plans regularly.

Identifying Critical Business Functions

As part of their business continuity planning efforts, businesses should identify key areas and functions essential to their operations, as well as an acceptable downtime period for each area or function. With these details in place, a plan can be created that ensures operations continue during an emergency or disaster situation.

At the center of identifying essential business processes is conducting a business impact analysis (BIA). A BIA analyzes what would happen if each function or area were disrupted and assesses any associated consequences; using this information, steps must be taken during disruptions as well as recovery time objectives (RTO).

An RTO (Recovery Time Objective) is the maximum amount of time a company can go without performing certain tasks before needing to take them offline due to maintenance or emergency. For instance, if one of your key business functions involves customer support via a phone center, then its RTO might be one hour. This would provide employees with time to use alternative solutions like email forms or visiting branch offices until your call center becomes back online.

At times, businesses may decide that certain disruptions do not have significant repercussions and do not need immediate responses in case of emergency or disaster. On other occasions, disruption can have more dire repercussions for their organization and it is therefore wise to have an arsenal of disaster recovery tools on hand in case any emergency should arise.

These tools may range from physical resources such as fire suppression tools and backup power supplies that will keep equipment operational for several hours following a power outage, to virtual tools like backup software, servers, or cloud-based solutions that enable companies to avoid costly downtime in case of disruptions.

Many companies take the approach of conducting role-playing sessions and other simulations on a regular basis to test their business continuity plans, both to maximize the efficiency of their efforts and demonstrate to their suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders that they are taking proactive steps in mitigating potential risks to their operations.

Creating a Continuity Team

Businesses carry out vital work every day, from mass-producing everyday products to providing lifesaving healthcare services. Customers and employees expect these essential functions to continue regardless of disasters, emergencies or any other disruptions; however, companies cannot meet this expectation without having a plan in place that addresses a wide variety of threats beyond IT infrastructure alone.

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Business continuity planning involves an organization determining how best to protect its operations during crisis events, such as when unexpected business disruptions arise. This involves assessing risk, creating recovery plans with contingencies for unexpected disruptions and regularly testing and updating these plans. A well-documented and tested business continuity plan can allow businesses to quickly recover from unexpected disruptions while continuing operations without interruptions.

To develop a business continuity plan, an organization must first identify its core processes and facilities by conducting an impact analysis or risk evaluation. Once identified, an organization can then craft a continuity plan which details steps for each step and what to do in case they fail.

Effective business continuity plans cover a wide array of processes, assets and workers at an organization. A plan must also include strategies to preserve communication channels during emergencies as well as maintain an acceptable level of functionality during crises.

Business continuity and disaster recovery plans may seem similar, but they do differ significantly in scope and focus. A disaster recovery plan typically targets IT infrastructure; on the other hand, business continuity plans address an organization’s processes, assets, and people as a whole.

As disaster strikes, companies need to rely on their technology and IT infrastructure. Zerto, part of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, reduces downtime associated with unplanned disruptions while mitigating impact from planned disruptions for true business continuity. Furthermore, its team-oriented interface enables teams to focus on innovation and business transformation by taking away the complexity associated with modernization and cloud adoption allowing organizations to return to doing what they do best: innovating within their industries.

Creating a Continuity Plan

Business continuity plans (BCPs) are strategies or alternate practices designed to enable a company to remain operational during an interruption or disaster, often including plans for recovering business functions, organizational structure and training – as well as protecting reputation and customers. A business continuity plan (BCP) should provide your organization with strategies or practices designed to keep operations going despite disruption or disaster. Typically a BCP includes plans for recovering these areas as well as saving costs through reduced downtime, savings on downtime mitigation measures and decreased costs overall.

Companies should appoint a team dedicated to developing and maintaining their BCP. This team should include representatives from critical departments such as IT, HR and communications – areas which could be affected in an emergency scenario – in order to develop its details with all stakeholders having equal input in this process.

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A team should then identify any risks identified during the BIA, and devise mitigation plans to avoid their occurrence. This step of business continuity planning can make all the difference between an enterprise that survives disruption and one which fails.

Once a business has developed a comprehensive plan, they should conduct an effective plan evaluation to ensure its effectiveness. Testing should typically occur twice or four times each year using methods like tabletop exercises or more formal walk-throughs and simulations; testing teams typically include members from each business unit as well as their recovery coordinator.

When testing their BCP, companies should ensure it reflects current best practices. Benchmarking against similar plans within their industry may also prove helpful, as will publicizing it within and externally as part of a campaign to demonstrate its value to customers.

Businesses should establish a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan to keep them running even during periods of severe disruption. A thorough BCP can reduce downtime and remain competitive during challenging circumstances. For more information about creating one for your organization, contact us.

Testing the Plan

An effective business continuity plan is only half of the battle; to make sure it works as intended requires testing it out. Testing may involve simple measures like having employees read over it or more elaborate approaches such as running through a disaster simulation; regardless, all of this should ensure everyone understands what to expect during disruptions and disruptions.

Idealy, your BCP should be tested two to four times annually or as often as your IT changes, with new members joining each time for greater effectiveness in spotting any gaps or omissions that have emerged since last review.

When testing your business continuity plan, the ideal scenario should reflect what kind of disaster you’re preparing for. This allows you to see whether your plan works as intended and pinpoint any areas for improvement. Involve non-team members as part of each test so all employees know what actions to take during an emergency situation.

Some businesses also use tabletop exercises as part of their test to simulate role-playing that would occur during an emergency situation. Usually conducted in a conference room, this allows teams to review what will occur and discuss any concerns. More involved tests include full disaster simulation or walkthrough drills where teams physically simulate tasks they would need to accomplish in an actual emergency situation.

Although no one likes to consider disaster, it is crucial that your organization is ready for whatever may arise. Without proper plans in place, recovery from disruption could take much longer or even force its closure completely.

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