Creating a Business Continuity Plan The Five Ps
With the increasing frequency of weather-related catastrophes, like hurricanes, tornadoes, fires and floods––or cyber threats, ransomware, hardware failure and employee error––businesses today face an exceptional amount of exposures to downtime.
That’s why creating a business continuity plan is one of the most vital components of any recovery strategy. And yet, according to Forrester, only 37% of U.S. companies feel prepared for disaster recovery.
Though you can’t control natural disasters nor predict the inevitable exposure to cyberattacks, you can manage these risks by developing a strong and informed plan that becomes an integral part of your company’s infrastructure.
In my personal experience helping companies begin conversations (and later, implementation) of a disaster recovery processes, I pinpointed five main factors that will determine how successful the integration will be.
First things first: you’ll want to take inventory of your company’s current resources, including systems, connections, and employees as well as your present business processes. Because once you know what resources you do have available, it’s easier to see what you need to protect and where there are holes to be filled.
The list may include things like:
How files and documents are shared
What preventative measures (if any) you have in place already
Your current telecom partner and their resources
Your employees and their responsibilities
How your staff communicates with each other and your customers
Next, you’ll want to create what I call a “communications audit.” It begins with a chart of what each employee does and who they communicate with directly to keep your business functioning: who orders supplies, who schedules staff, who corresponds with which clients, and so on. This chart will help identify what happens if you remove a person or job from being completed.
Suppose your primary––and even your secondary––managers or essential team members are unavailable during a company emergency. Do you have a plan in place for this eventuality? It’s time to make one.
Here’s an added bonus: I found that once the communications audit was completed, most companies found opportunities to improve everything––from sales to customer experience.
Now, it’s time to create a “risk landscape.” Determine all threats that are prone to affect your company, taking note of the likelihood, frequency, and severity of each. Of course, your location will play a role in your list of natural disasters, but it’s also important to remember that many I.T. failures aren’t due to bad weather at all. Many crashes are attributed to human error.
A few to consider:
Businesses should plan for the highest-ranking disasters as soon as possible. Every threat will need designated steps to be taken before, during, and after the emergency as well as action items that address your company’s physical facilities and daily operations.
Make sure your emergency response plan is shared with your entire team and encourage feedback. Staff members who’ve been included in your process and are aware of the plan will have the desire and the knowledge to assist with recovery in the event of business interruption.
Now it’s time to train and rehearse by way of a “fire drill.” Practice your plan annually. Then, incorporate feedback and lessons learned in a yearly update.
In addition, running network stress tests is also a crucial, yet often overlooked, procedure to implement. Stress testing provides a means to measure the ability of a system to maintain functionality––even when a large part of it has been compromised.
In my experience, this is the most imperative resource in safeguarding your business during an emergency. Having a proven telecom partner who is reliable and has your company’s best interest in mind could be the difference between a few minutes of downtime and losing everything.
Frontier Communications has an excellent track record for assisting in recovery. One of my favorites of their offerings is Frontier AnyWare. It not only gives employees communication access from across the U.S., but it also prepares your company for what’s to come––whatever it is. It’s a scalable solution and offers reliable connectivity with a voice network hosted in the Frontier cloud. So, calls can continue uninterrupted even if your facility is affected by a disaster.
Another solution is Frontier’s Total360 Business Continuity. This service restores your servers and data locally on the Total360 appliance or in a secure, bicoastal data center in minutes. Which means, even if your office building is damaged, your company can stay connected remotely without lengthy restoration procedures.
The time is now.
It may seem overwhelming to plan for the worst but having a business continuity plan is crucial to your company’s prosperity. So, start planning today. And above all else, make sure you have the right partners in place to help keep your business up and running today and in the future. Because it isn’t if a disaster will occur, but when.
The State of Disaster Recovery Preparedness 2017 – Survey by Forrester Research
Severe Weather Emergency, EZ-Prep Toolkit by Institute for Business & Home Safety