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BC/DR, business continuity, Disaster Recovery

Introduction to business continuity for beginners (with answers to FAQ’s)

By : Peter Davies / 18 September, 2018 /

What is business continuity?

Business continuity (BC) refers to the unbroken and consistent existence & operation of a business over time. 

What is a business continuity plan?

A business continuity plan often referred to as a contingency plan or policy, outlines the prevention and recovery processes to protect an organisation from any and all potential threats that could cause harm to the continuation of business.

Why business continuity planning is important

Developing a business continuity strategy or plan is key to the survival of any organization. Reliance on technology, supply chains, staff and other relationships leave businesses vulnerable to a numerous variety of risks with unmeasurable consequences.

The risks of not having a contingency plan are too great to ignore, and while having insurance and a disaster recovery plan is a good start, they don’t cover issues such as financial losses, lawsuits or damage to reputation.

The bottom line is that having a continuity plan is important because it assures the continuation of your business during crisis.

The differences between business continuity and disaster recovery and how they work together

Business continuity is a proactive plan that details the steps taken before, during and after an event to avoid, protect against and lessen the severity of risks to a business.

Disaster recovery is part of a business continuity plan, which details how a company responds after an event occurs. It deals with the safety and restoration of personnel, locations, data and equipment essential to operational procedures.

Threats & risks to business continuity and the impact of a disaster

  • Cyber attack
  • Data breach
  • Unplanned IT and telecom outages
  • Security incident
  • Adverse weather
  • Interruption to utility supply
  • Act of terrorism
  • Supply chain disruption
  • Availability of key skills
  • New laws or regulations

The immediate impact of a disaster will be apparent in lost revenue and the inability to deliver critical services. However, the main reason companies fail is due to the ongoing impact from the initial interruption of business such as;

● Damage to reputation deterring new customers
● Loss of current customers looking elsewhere
● Clients seeking out alternative suppliers or distributors
● Loss of Funding from investors

Businesses that fail to provide services and assurances to its customers following an unplanned event may not have a business to recover.

Read more about the costs of having a BC/DR plan vs the costs of not planning.

The Benefits of having a contingency plan

Putting in place a business continuity plan will help you to:

  • Avoid financial losses
  • Meet legal requirements
  • Avoid loss of market share
  • Protect the safety of assets including employees
  • Mitigate negative publicity.

Business Continuity Planning & Strategy

Who is responsible for business continuity planning?

Business continuity planning & management is the shared responsibility of an organisation’s entire senior management who are responsible for crucial business processes. Although IT remains central to the BC/DR process, deciding which processes are critical to the business is a collective decision.

Business continuity management principles

The Business Continuity Institute recommends that the following principles are utilised to help make it easier when devising and implementing a BC plan:

  • BC is an integral part of corporate governance
  • BC activities must match, focus upon and directly support the business strategy and goals of the organisation
  • BC must provide organisational resilience to optimise product and service availability
  • BC must optimise cost efficiencies
  • BC is a business management process that is undertaken because it adds value rather than because of governance or regulatory considerations
  • All BC strategies, plans and solutions must be business owned and driven

Business Continuity strategy life-cycle

There is a five-step circular strategy that should be followed when developing a business continuity management plan:

  • Analyse your business
    ○ This is necessary for understanding where your business is vulnerable.
    ○ It is essential that there is a clear understanding of business processes both internally and externally.
    ○ Involve member from all departments to see what procedures are currently in place.
  • Assess the risks
    ○ How likely is the risk & how will this affect the business?
    ○ Build a framework for each scenario, assess damage by cost
    ○ Consider how much you could lose from down time & the effects of adverse publicity. What is the worst-case scenario?
  • Develop your strategy
    ○ Attempt to reduce the risks
    ○ Take steps to find a business continuity partner to provide help following an incident
    ○ Reduce all risks to the point where you should not need outside help
  • Develop your plan
    ○ Make it clear who needs to do what, and who takes responsibility for what.
    ○ Use checklists with clear, direct instructions, a good plan will be simple without being simplistic.
    ○ Agree how often, when and how you will check your plan.
    ○ You will never be able to plan in detail for every possible event.
  • Rehearse the plan
    ○ Weaknesses can only be discovered when put into action
    ○ Good way to train responders
    ○ check the full plan with the minimum of cost and disruption

The whole process must be reviewed to ensure external or internal changes have not made elements of the plan redundant.

Business continuity management

There are a number of different solutions available today designed to help an organisation both in the development and execution of their business continuity management plan. These include:

  • Business continuity planning
  • Business recovery solutions
  • Managed continuity services

Due to cost considerations, many organisations will utilise internal resources to develop and execute their business continuity management plan. While this may be realistic for a smaller organisation, a larger one will typically require some external assistance.

Engaging a partner enables businesses to:

  • Leverage the partner’s extensive investments in the latest technology, continuous improvements to methodologies, and skilled people
  • Benefit from the expertise gained in solving problems for a variety of organisations with similar requirements
  • Use the partner’s backup facilities and resources
  • Take advantage of the partner’s economies of scale on assets, resources and procurement to help enable a lower cost of operation and significantly less risk
  • Concentrate on achieving core business growth objectives.

What We Do: Business continuity solutions

Our business continuity and disaster recovery solutions help you to maintain constant access to your communications services, allowing you to conduct business-as-usual tasks with your clients, staff and partners, whether that be voice capabilities to your contact centre and staff, email, corporate applications, Cloud based communication systems.
In some cases, the non-availability of these mission critical services renders your business unable to trade and may have a significant detrimental impact on your reputation, profitability and future business, as well as on your staff morale.
Solar’s bespoke solutions eliminate these fears, leaving you to focus on what you do best.

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TLDR (Too Long Didn't Read)

  • Business continuity (BC) refers to the unbroken and consistent existence & operation of a business over time. A business continuity plan outlines the prevention and recovery processes to protect an organisation from any and all potential threats that could cause harm to the continuation of business.
  • The bottom line is that having a continuity plan is important because it assures the continuation of your business during crisis.
  • Business continuity focuses on the prevention of disaster while disaster recovery focuses on response and restoration.
  • Putting in place a business continuity plan will help you to:
    ○ Avoid financial losses
    ○ Meet legal requirements
    ○ Avoid loss of market share
    ○ Protect the safety of assets including employees
    ○ Mitigate negative publicity.
  • Solar communications helps business continuity with unified cloud based communication systems.

Tags: BC/DR, business continuity, Disaster Recovery

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