Key Elements of a Business Continuity Plan
What are the key elements of a business continuity plan? Today we outline the key information that should be contained within your organisation’s plan.
A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document describing the policies, procedures, and actions that will help restore vital business functions during a disaster or crisis. As discussed in last week’s post, business continuity specifically comprises the larger human-related aspect of a crisis plan, such as the steps employees must take to in order to keep business operations running smoothly. In contrast, disaster recovery refers to the technology-related aspect of the plan and maintains systems in the case that a primary work site is unusable. A variety of elements can be contained within a business continuity plan and include preventative, detective, and corrective measures.
Data backup is a critical step when it comes to preventative disaster recovery, and can encompass tape backups sent off-site during scheduled intervals, disk backups made directly to an on-site disk or automatically replicated to an off-site disk, as well as hybrid cloud data backup methods that replicate data both on- and off-site. Other preventative measures focused on reducing risks can include conducting regular examinations of IT systems and installing backup generators. Preventative measures are especially important to catch and stop avoidable events, such as human errors and technology failures, in their tracks. Furthermore, by staying knowledgeable about an IT environment, those responsible for DR plans will be able to respond to a failure or crisis more effectively.
Detective measures are focused on staying abreast of potential threats, and can include installing anti-virus software and sever monitoring software. Another important detective measure includes employee training. Making sure employees are trained on the cyber security landscape and that they know how to respond when confronted with this kind of threat can alleviate potential disasters within the organisation. Performing regular DR tests is also key to making sure organisations know their DR plan’s weak spots, and that all employees know how to respond in the time of an event. Additionally, employee trainings can help prevent human errors that can lead to DR events.
Finally, corrective measures are focused on re-establishing a firm’s IT infrastructure after a disaster occurs. Technology emergencies large and small can render a firm’s production infrastructure unusable, so firms must be prepared to respond. Corrective measures can include reinstalling data and restoring other critical IT functions that went down during the event, such as Internet, email, and other applications. An important aspect of the corrective phase is a disaster recovery (DR) duplicate of the production environment. This off-site, real-time replica of production files and applications can be rapidly activated in the case of an emergency, allowing business to continue in spite of an outage.
By making sure to routinely take a preventative and detective approach to BCP/DR, firms can avert many potential failures. While certain disasters, such as naturally-occurring weather events, are unpreventable, by staying abreast of threats and by planning appropriately, organisations can make sure that their business operations can stay fully functional when a crisis does arise.