IT disasters such as malicious cyberattacks, natural disasters, and extended periods of unexpected downtime can have detrimental impacts on any business and in many cases even ruin them. A business continuity plan is essential for any business that wants to be able to defend against such catastrophes and ensure their data remains protected.
While you can’t predict when a disaster might occur, or even what form a disaster might take, your business can be ready for it with the right preparation. A business continuity plan is the smartest asset that your business can have to outline the exact steps that should be taken in the event of an IT emergency.
What Is Business Continuity?
Business continuity is the practice of maintaining the operations and functions of a business when a major disruption occurs. Disasters could include storms and floods, a fire, or cybersecurity breaches. The aim of a business continuity plan is to outline specific steps you will take to keep operations running as smoothly as possible or to get your systems back in working order as quickly as possible if something happens.
A business continuity plan addresses a range of things, including processes, assets, business partners, and human resources and how each department will address an IT disaster if one arises. A business continuity goes beyond a disaster recovery plan, which focuses mainly on restoring IT infrastructure. A business continuity plan is designed to get everything back up and running after a disaster to protect the reputation and profits of the business.
The Importance of Business Continuity for Maintaining Clients and Customers
Business continuity is essential for organizations of all kinds. Whatever market you are in, you are competing against others. If a disaster does occur that your not prepared to handle, your customers could lose trust and take their business elsewhere.
If an incident completely disrupts your business and inhibits your customers from interacting with your organization in the usual way, they’re not likely to remain loyal to your company. Not to mention, if you store their personal information, losing that data during a cyberattack will cause a major loss of trust. While many customers understand that some incidents can be unavoidable, they want to feel confident that you can respond to these disasters quickly and appropriately should they occur.
If you have a business continuity in place that can take effect after an adverse event, you can maintain your reputation and sometimes even garner more business. Customers will have more confidence in your company because they have seen that you can respond well to a disaster. To ensure you maintain client and customer loyalty, it’s imperative that you implement a continuity plan for your IT as well as cover other business functions to ensure all parts of your organization can keep operating as usual.
How Business Continuity Plans Work
A business continuity plan needs to lay out the events that must take place across each department to maintain or restore business’s operations in the event of a disaster. This includes identifying key business features and functions, identifying dependencies between departments and processes, and determining how much downtime is acceptable for different operations.
If you don’t already have a disaster recovery plan, this also needs to be created as part of your business continuity plan. A disaster recovery plan can be a good place to start to make sure your IT personnel are doing everything necessary to restore offline, damaged, or compromised systems and data. The rest of your continuity plan ensures that other departments understand how they will transition their operations to new systems or methods, who they will communicate with to maintain business functions, and what they can do to ensure the privacy of confidential information.
How to Test and Improve Your Continuity Plan
After creating a business continuity plan, it’s important to test it. You need to know how it’s going to serve the needs of your organization in case of many types of disasters. While it won’t truly be tested until a real disaster occurs, you can still carry out drills to ensure your plan covers every necessary entity.
There are various ways to test your plan, including simulations and structured walk-throughs. This helps everyone involved to understand what they need to do and gives you the chance to visualize and practice each aspect of the plan.
A table-top exercise is one option, when several people across departments collaborate by reviewing the plan and looking for any gaps that might be present. In a structured walkthrough, each member of the team walks through their responsibilities to identify any missing aspects of the plan. Disaster simulation testing involves creating an environment similar to what would occur in a real disaster for more realistic testing.
Each of these tests can help ensure you have thought of every operation and line of communication that will need to be adapted in the event of an emergency.
How Integrated Solutions Can Help
Integrated Solutions can help you to improve your business continuity plan by offering IT consulting regarding each of your digital business operations. Using top-of-the-line cybersecurity planning and defense, Integrated Solutions can also take preventative measures with your current infrastructure to reduce the risk of IT disasters. As we backup and continually monitor your protected data, we make sure you have peace of mind that your business can handle unexpected disasters.
Contact Integrated Solutions today to find out more about how we can help develop a unique continuity plan for business.