What does a business continuity plan entail?

Businesses are becoming more aware of the effects of cyber crime as personal experiences and news reports reverberate, and there’s no doubting the fact that even a single cyber attack has the potential to cripple a business or destroy its IT system.

Modern businesses obviously need to protect themselves against cyber attacks. The first step is putting in place backup and cyber security which, together, go a long way towards providing protection. But there’s a second step to take, and that’s implementing a business continuity plan, or BCP.

What is business continuity?

Business continuity refers to the ability to maintain business functions and to resume them quickly in the face of planned or unplanned disruptions, such as floods, fire and cyber attack. Business continuity means your customers will still be able to use your services and your employees will be able to continue doing their job while the disruption is sorted out.

What is a business continuity plan?

A business continuity plan is a document that details how a business will carry on operating when a planned or an unplanned disruption takes place. It contains the procedures and instructions that will give your business the best chance of surviving the disruption.

A BCP should include a checklist of backups, equipment and supplies and, for each of these, there’ll be a plan of action and a strategy for short- and long-term recovery.

It will also include your Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTO). and identify administrators of the plan, including contact details of first-responders, key personnel and backup site providers.

A BCP will cyber resilience strategies for:

  1. Handling disruptions to computers and devices, servers and networks
  2. Defending against cyber risks
  3. Protecting vital apps and data
  4. Recovering in an organised way

Once all these elements are successfully in place, having a business continuity plan will mean:

  • Continuous availability: you’ll have access to vital business apps and functions through a disruption so they can continue while it’s being attended to.
  • Uninterrupted operations: your business will keep running during planned or unplanned disruptions so that productivity needn’t fall.
  • Disaster recovery: you’ll have a failover site, i.e. an alternative data centre, to switch to if your primary site becomes unusable so that business isn’t compromised.

Business continuity plan vs disaster recovery plan

In case you’re wondering, the difference between a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan are quite marked:

A disaster recovery plan

  • focuses on restoring IT infrastructure and operations that are affected
  • is not nearly as comprehensive than a BCP

A business continuity plan

  • focuses on restoring all aspects of a business that might be affected
  • is far more comprehensive than a DRP

In other words, a disaster recovery plan is just one element of a business continuity plan, and tends to focus on the IT side of things. There’s also the sales and support sides to cater for in the event of a disruption, and they need to keep going as much as the IT system needs to through a disruption.

Why should you have a business continuity plan?

To remain competitive in your field of business, you want to be sure you’ll not only survive a disruption of any kind, but recover from it quickly.

In recovering quickly, you’ll also be sure to retain your customers, while showing your prospects that you have the resources to continue providing the products or services they rely on you for.

Having a business continuity plan shows your commitment to what you do for your customers.

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