Is your Business Continuity Plan A Disaster?

Fortunately disasters rarely happen. This makes them expensive and difficult to plan for and ultimately manage. All businesses need to ensure that they are well prepared for a wide range of problems.

The answer is to plan ahead and to start thinking about how you can deal with the unthinkable.

We Know When It Will Happen

Disasters have a habit of only occurring when you are least prepared for them and at a time that will cause you maximum embarrassment. They also tend to be caused by a series of more minor problems that come together to produce the perfect Business Continuity and Disaster Recover (BCDR) storm.

  • Studying near misses can provide great insights into how and when things will fail
  • Looking at your suppliers' and customers' disasters may give you further insights

Really, you do need a plan

The UK Government say that half of small businesses who have no BCDR planning never reopen after a disaster. you can avoid being one of them by introducing Business Continuity and Disaster Recover planning into your company.

Getting Ahead of the Game

A Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plan will give you the support you will need to cope with a disaster.

This needs to be done ahead of time; trying to plan to cope with a disaster during the event isn't a good place to be.

Building BCDR planning is expensive, and yet it must be affordable and cost effective:

  • Sometimes the right answer is to do nothing more than buy BCDR support from a capable specialist
  • Sometimes just having a relationship with a good serviced office group and some spare laptops will give you just enough to survive
  • Another approach is to build up resources each month, growing a set of response plans that start to give you immediate cover and will grow into a unified sophisticated approach over time

It must be stressed that it is not enough to have a BCDR plan, it must be exercised

  • Only by running through a test of your plans can you determine if they work
  • Very often the testing phase is crucial in honing your plans so that they will work reliably

How Do You Create A Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan

The basics are very simple; what do you need to maintain at a minimum to keep your enterprise running?

This can then be broken down into groups such as these below:

  • People and knowledge
  • Business Operation
  • Systems
  • Premises
  • External factors

For each of those you can then begin to list all of your assets and capabilities (or resources) and dependencies, then start to determine which are critical, important or just nice to have.

You can then start to think about scenarios that might impact those assets and capabilities. From this you can start to draw up a chart of risk assessments against those resources. Then it should be a simple matter of identifying what can be done to mitigate against those problems.

Risk Registers and BCDR Manuals

The risk register takes a list of factors, assets and capabilities that you would like to maintain and identifies your preparedness to support or replace those entities in the event of a crisis.

The BCDR manual provides a detailed breakdown of each of the factors, assets and capabilities you are considering, how important they are and how you can replace or recreate that function.

The manual should also draw up a number of scenarios that would provide cover for a wider spectrum of problems. This should give a number of "Plan B's" that could be brought together to mitigate some future scenario.

Test and Revise

In the same way that we practise fire drills, BCDR drills can be used to provide experience to both staff and management.

  • If people know what to expect when a problem occurs they will be better placed to cope
  • Testing is a great opportunity to revise and improve your plans

How To Build BCDR Preparedness

Just making a start at looking at how you would handle a crisis will stand you in good stead, it is another task which is more "Constant Gardening" than "Building". It needs to be run repeatedly.

As with the fire drill concept above, you should train and appoint staff as BCDR marshals

Assuming you have spent valuable time developing a BCDR manual it would be wise to store copies in multiple, easy to reach places

  • The cloud is a good place, keep a copy securely online
  • Place a copy on a USB memory stick, preferably encrypted, and place it with either a trusted service provider or supplier away from your main site
  • Find a specialist support company who will offer 24x7 support for getting basic access to the BCDR manual and some desk space

If The Worst Happens

There are few disasters that have not already occurred somewhere to someone else. There is no shortage of resources that may be able to help, the problem is that you may no longer have their phone numbers, emails or immediate access to their websites.

  • Your BCDR manual should have a section for emergency contacts
  • You should have some partners lined up or perhaps some similar companies that would be willing to offer some support in a reciprocal arrangement

Beware that when a disaster does occur you may find that the cost of buying in support will be at a premium, the most cost effective point to negotiate support is long before you need it.

We Can Work It Out

Here at Layer3 Systems we have spent 25 years developing solutions against a wide range of challenges, often providing assistance to those companies that are working hard to make their systems work. We have found that not everyone can easily manage a full Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery programme, so we have developed a custom solution that allows us to rapidly create and manage your handling of risk and to provide cost effective solutions to putting disaster preparedness in place in your organisation.

We are an organisation that can be relied upon to help drive the way forward. When you get to the point where you need some spare capacity to support and enhance your business operation you can turn to Layer3 Systems Ltd.

If you want to remove problems, reduce uncertainties and improve performance of your systems or networks, or if you're simply lacking resources to manage risk, call us on 020 3805 7795, we can help!

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