9 Signs You Need a Business Continuity Consultancy
A good business continuity consultancy is worth its weight in gold. But the question your organization has probably already asked is: “Do we really need one?”
Experienced consultants can offer a ton of value in the services they provide. They can develop and manage your entire continuity strategy from scratch or from an existing strategy already in place.
In the process, these BC gurus can literally save your business from (or after) a disaster.
But not every business is ready for an outside consultancy. Some businesses may come to the conclusion they can’t afford to hire one. Other businesses may realize they can’t afford not to.
Before you’re able to make a decision, there are some questions you need to consider:
- What does business continuity consultancy actually do?
- What are the pros and cons of using a consultant?
- What can a consultant bring to the table that you cannot?
- How might a consultancy save your organization money?
It’s not difficult to determine if your organization is a good candidate for external BC advisors. Once you consider what exactly these professionals can offer vs. what your business really needs, the answer should become crystal clear.
Use the guidance below to determine if you’re ready to bring in a consultant or continue doing your continuity management in-house.
What does a business continuity consultancy do?
It’s important to clear up any misconceptions that you or the company stakeholders may have about business continuity consultancies.
Additionally, it’s equally important to do your homework when you begin researching your options, because not all BC consultants are made equal. Some may focus exclusively on select components of business continuity, such as:
- Emergency response
Some consultants offer a 360-degree approach, covering all of these aspects. The key is that you know beforehand exactly what your prospective agency handles, so that there is no confusion going forward.
Let’s take a look at some of the services that various consultants may offer:
- Development of your entire continuity strategy
Extensive, customized planning for your organization’s entire continuity strategy, including disaster prevention and recovery solutions, based on your specific operational risks and objectives.
- Writing your business continuity plan (BCP)
The creation of and/or ongoing assistance with the comprehensive document that outlines all the specific details of your continuity planning.
- Management of existing disaster recovery protocols
Ongoing management and enhancement of continuity planning for organizations that already have systems in place.
- Recommendations and/or implementation of BC/DR technologies
Specific technology and infrastructure investments for maintaining continuity, such as data backup systems, as recommended by a consultant and/or managed service provider (MSP).
- Risk assessments
Analysis of the unique risks that threaten your operations, including natural disasters, ransomware, cyberattacks, human error, etc.
- Business impact analyses
Analysis of the impact of those disasters on the business, including operational downtime, recovery costs, revenue loss and so on.
- Determination of recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO)
Calculation and recommendation of RTO and RPO based on a careful analysis of the business’s actual recovery thresholds.
- Post-disaster recovery protocols
Step-by-step procedures for recovery teams and other personnel to follow in an emergency to reduce the impact of the disaster, minimize recovery time, and/or ensure employee safety.
- Employee training
Focused training sessions designed to educate personnel on recovery procedures or best practices for preventing disaster scenarios (i.e. safe Internet usage, fire safety, etc.)
- Mock recoveries and disaster drills
Implementation of mock disaster scenarios for an independent evaluation of an organization’s response and readiness.
Every business has its own unique needs when it comes to disaster planning. As you compare your options, you may find that you only need assistance in a few of the areas listed above—or you may need all of it.
So how can you know for sure if it’s time to hire a business continuity consultancy? Here are some sure-fire signs …
How to Tell It’s Time to Use a Consultant
- Nobody knows a thing about BC.
If there’s no one within your organization that knows how to get started on a business continuity plan, then you probably need some outside help. If the organization is small, and the operational risks are low, then you might get by with a little research and a template, but it’s still a good idea to get guidance from a professional.
- You don’t have time.
Because technology is a crucial ingredient of continuity in today’s data-centric world, BC planning often falls onto the IT department. The problem is: IT is already managing a million other things. More often than not, there are simply not enough hours in the day for someone to write a BCP or to meet with other departments to perform a business impact analysis. But that doesn’t mean you should let these things fall by the wayside. Hire a consultancy to do the grunt work that your busy in-house teams don’t have the time for.
- Math is hard.
Just a heads up: your BCP is going to require some serious arithmetic. Your business impact analysis alone will require careful calculations of recovery costs (taking into account numerous factors, like idle employee’s wages, revenue losses and losses from less tangible consequences, like a damaged company reputation, etc.). Unless your teams know how to do these projections on their own, it’s probably best to hire a pro.
- Your BCP is old and outdated.
Maybe someone at your organization already created a really good BCP. But that was five years ago and now it’s horribly outdated (technologies, contact lists, procedures, and so on) and the person who worked on it is no longer at the company. If there’s no one else who has the time, knowledge or resources to revamp the BCP, then consider using a consultancy to do it for you.
- Downtime isn’t an option.
Is your business dead in the water if operations are disrupted? If so, you need to take BC planning seriously. Don’t assume your planning is water tight. Have an experienced consultant look over your BCP and your business to find out if your defenses are as iron-clad as you think they are. You may just discover there are operational risks you never even considered.
- You already experienced a disaster. It wasn’t pretty.
Maybe your company recently experienced a disruptive event and it was a nightmare. Now you’re realizing that the business is nowhere close to the planning it needs to survive such an event again in the future. A good consultancy can help you get the ball rolling on your continuity strategy (and may even be able to help with any remaining recovery issues from the last disaster).
- The higher-ups don’t get it.
Maybe you’re an IT manager who has been trying to sell the higher-ups on the importance of business continuity, but (for whatever reason) they’re not providing the resources to make it happen. If they’re not yet ready to pull the trigger on a full-blown continuity strategy, then a consultant might be able to help. Sometimes it takes an outside source to paint a clearer picture of the risks for stakeholders to get on board.
- Technology changes fast. You haven’t kept up.
BC/DR devices have come a long way over the last several years, as have many other infrastructure technologies. Even the best IT managers may not be aware of today’s best solutions for data backup and recovery, like Inverse Chain Technology and hybrid virtualization from Datto. They may not realize why older systems are so inadequate and unreliable (until it’s too late). A business continuity consultancy focused on this tech will have a much deeper understanding of today’s options and will be able to pinpoint the right systems for your infrastructure.
- Your current strategy isn’t working.
Maybe your organization has already attempted to do business continuity management (BCM) in-house, but it hasn’t gone smoothly. Typical signs of this are:
- Slow approvals from higher-ups
- Recovery team meetings constantly being postponed or canceled
- Incomplete BCP drafts, because you’re waiting on answers from other departments
- Questionable or incomplete recovery procedures
- Implemented technologies are already failing mock tests/recoveries
These are common problems that bog down an organization’s continuity planning, ultimately putting the business at risk. This may be a good time to bring in a consultant who has experience resolving such issues and putting your BCM back on the right track.
The costs of using a consultancy will vary depending on what you need them for. So no matter how small (or large) your organization, don’t assume there’s no room in the budget until after speaking with someone first.
Most consultants are happy to provide a free initial consultation and some ballpark estimates (if not a more formal, custom quote). And when you compare their fees vs. the potential costs of not having a pro to help safeguard your business, the decision may become obvious.
If you need help preparing your organization for worst-case scenarios, talk to our business continuity professionals at Invenio IT. Request a free demo of today’s best solutions for data backup and recovery, or contact us by calling (646) 395-1170 or by emailing [email protected].