Every business faces challenges, both common and unique. Some of these challenges and potential risk factors could cause significant setbacks or in some cases, utter ruination of a business. Owning and running a successful organisation requires an astute understanding of how to maintain core operations in the face of these challenges. From bad publicity, internal wrangles, cybercrime, natural disasters, economic downturns to power outages these and other risk factors are enough to keep you awake.
While some business owners and leaders tend to believe that they can quickly come up with a “Plan B” on the go, the leading global corporate leaders spend time and money creating a business continuity plan for events they hope will never come to pass. After all, preparedness if the key to mitigating risks, avoiding disaster, as well as coping and recovering when unavoidable setbacks occur. On top of that, there are many benefits of having a business continuity plan, not only for the business itself but also its partners, stakeholders, employees and of course its customers.
After creating a business continuity plan, the question becomes, how do you implement a business continuity plan?
Formulating a Strategic Implementation Plan
The next step after creating a business continuity plan is to formulate a strategic implementation plan starting with a risk-based analysis. The analysis will help you determine the risk level in relation to the capital investments that your business can make to guarantee viability. The business continuity plan is generally a holistic and expansive plan with different levels of critical assets. The analysis helps you determine where best to focus your expenditure and resources on a reliable system.
To formulate the strategic implementation plan, you first need to analyse the following 4 business models.
On-site Versus Off-site
Determine whether you will make an investment in an on-site infrastructure or will partner with a hosted co-location facility. The on-site infrastructure will include redundant systems for cooling, power, hardware and connectivity as the plan requires. On the other hand, the off-site option has less TCO. Regardless of which investment you decide to focus on, it is important to remember that every plan must include an off-site option with manual storage or automatic replication in case of a physical disaster.
Determine how tolerant your business as a whole is to downtime. Then, make an internal tolerance threshold determination depending on the service provided, type of data and customer demand. This will help you determine the levels of redundancy your business needs to prevent or minimise downtime to within tolerance.
Quantity of Data
Determine how much infrastructural investment is required in the on-site location depending on the amount of data you deem mission-critical and that you need for disaster recovery. The cost point of off-site remote access versus on-site redundancy will help you determine where you should focus your resources.
Determine the communication infrastructure you need to replicate large amounts of data to an off-site location or the network services that you require to maintain a reliable remote access connection to off-site live data repositories. This analysis should be done in conjunction with the quantity of data analysis. As a general rule, the more data that is being replicated, the larger the data access point needs to be. In most cases, the cost of replication is prohibitive thereby making remote access a more feasible option.
Execute the Implementation Plan
You now have a business continuity plan to respond to all natural and unnatural disruptions and its strategic implementation plan, it is now time to execute. At this stage, ongoing system monitoring and testing are key as they help you prepare for actual recovery. Additionally, your business will grow and change as time goes by. As such, you need to conduct an annual evaluation where policy, plan and procedures might need to change to adapt to your growing and changing system.
Important Tips when Implementing a Business Continuity Plan
- Have an understanding of the business architecture of your enterprise
- Have a knowledge of the daily business routines and the people responsible for them
- Formulate and maintain a service catalogue and CMDB
- Periodically perform trial runs of your BCP for practice and to make sure that it actually works
- Plan disaster recovery teams as well
- Continually update your BCP as the business changes including personnel, IT services and business context
- Use simple and clear “how to’s” rather than complicated flowcharts
- Formulate straightforward instruction directed to specific individuals to reduce panic and tension in the face of an emergency.
Just as is the case with creating a business continuity plan, implementing it also focusses of planning, analysis and evaluation. Depending on the size and context of your business, the solutions and options might differ. If you are looking to create and implement a business continuity plan for your business but do not know where to start, contact Adept today. We are a leading IT services firm providing all size organisations in the UK with innovative and reliable business solutions. Talk to us today to learn more about our services.