Spoiler Alert: Business Continuity Planning Consultant Saves Company
What’s so important about using a business continuity planning consultant?
Imagine losing access to your building for week, without any employees being allowed to enter. That’s what happened to a Canadian business after a fire left the company’s underground parking garage submerged in five feet of water. Although the fire was extinguished, the water severely damaged electrical and environmental infrastructure, virtually condemning the building for a week.
Thankfully, the company had performed a disaster-recovery simulation with its business continuity planning consultants only two months before. They were prepared for this exact scenario. The company quickly moved operations to a secondary location that it had reserved for an emergency like this. And, since they were using Datto BDR solutions under the advisement of their BC consultant, the company was able to spin up the virtual machines (accessing all their business-critical data and applications) within minutes.
According to the consultant, if the company hadn’t been able to restore operations so quickly, it would have lost billions of dollars over the next few years in lost revenue and a damaged reputation.
Prep for disasters of every kind
The story above is a good example of how an experienced consultancy can prepare your business for (and literally save it from) the most destructive disasters.
Proper planning is crucial for mitigating the risks of such disasters and for recovering quickly when these situations arise. A good business continuity planning consultant can ensure that your business is ready for the worst-case scenarios and that employees know exactly what to do.
But as any IT professional knows, it’s not just the “big” disasters that you need to worry about.
Every day, businesses of all sizes experience mini-disasters, which require their own swift resolutions before snowballing into something much worse.
These smaller, but no less severe, disasters can take many forms:
- Employees accidentally deleting important files or folders
- Servers / storage drives acting up or not saving data properly
- Network outages, slowdowns or spotty Wi-Fi
- Data recovery test failures
- Virus and malware infections
Your teams know how to address these problems—they probably do it every day. But without a structured plan for preventing such scenarios, or guidelines for response, then the company could be losing a lot more money than you think, every time they happen. Consider productivity loss, wasted resources, lost time for resolving the issue and so on. It adds up.
A consultant can help your organization look at the larger picture of business continuity, while helping to implement protocols and systems to minimize disruptions of all kinds.
What Can A Business Continuity Planning Consultant Do for Me?
There are many different types of consultants, each offering a specific range of services.
For example, some may be more focused on the human element of emergency preparedness (first aid kits, evacuation plans, basic medical response, and so on), while others may be focused on the operational element (risk assessments, business impact analyses, backup and disaster recovery technologies, etc.).
All of this falls under the header of business continuity. As such, each type of prevention and response should be included within your business continuity plan. The more planning you do, the better prepared your organization will be when disaster strikes. However, consultants differ in their expertise and areas of focus, so keep that in mind as you research your options.
8 Questions Your Consultant Can Answer
Let’s look at some of the specific ways that business continuity planning consultants can enhance your continuity planning:
- How do we write a business continuity plan (BCP)?Your BCP is the foundation of your continuity planning. It outlines every aspect of your organization’s approach to preventing and responding to disruptive events.Without a thorough and properly organized plan, your business will be more likely to experience a disruptive event that results in crippling downtime.A consultant can help you create a comprehensive BCP that ensures the organization is doing everything in its power to mitigate risk and respond quickly in a disaster situation.
- What disasters should we be worried about?You’ve probably already considered the big ones: fire, severe weather, flooding, cyberattack. But chances are there are many additional disaster scenarios you haven’t considered.What if a transportation shutdown prevented your workforce from coming into the office? What if ransomware locked up all your data? What if there was no electricity for two weeks?Consultants can analyze your unique operations to determine your greatest risks, as part of a comprehensive risk assessment. This is one of the most important pieces of your business continuity plan.
- How do we know which events post the greatest threats?Great question. You’ll need to determine this as part of a detailed business impact analysis. This is another key piece of your continuity planning, as it helps you to understand the real costs and destruction associated with each type of event. This enables you to prioritize your risks and focus your planning resources accordingly.Let’s consider a major ransomware attack, for example. Your consultant will probably want to coordinate with several departments in your organization, such as finance, accounting, IT and human resources, as means of determining how such an event will disrupt the business. The consultant will consider the cost of idle workers, revenue losses, damaged reputation and so on. This allows them to determine the monetary impact of the event (per minute, days, weeks, etc.).This level of insight is critical for both preventing a disaster and being adequately prepared to resolve it at a time when every second counts.
- How quickly do we need to recovery from a disaster to survive?This is a critical calculation you need to make, because it sets a benchmark for responding to a disaster before it’s too late.Referred to as a recovery time objective (RTO), this measurement makes it clear to your disaster recovery teams how quickly they need to recover a business system or service before the consequences become insurmountable.A continuity planning consultant will use the data compiled in the business impact analysis to determine your RTO(s). Certain events and/or business systems (i.e. loss of data) will likely have different recovery time objectives, given their varying impact and recovery costs. Your consultant can also help you determine your recovery point objective (RPO), which is the oldest data recovery point you’re willing to accept (i.e. 24 hours) before the data loss becomes too costly.
- What are today’s best BDR technologies?Even the most skilled IT managers don’t always have the time to keep track of the latest and greatest technologies in BDR. They’re too busy managing the day-to-day. And let’s face it: new tech comes along all the time. It’s constantly evolving and getting better. But that doesn’t mean your IT folks are eager to get rid of their existing data back-up system, unless someone can pinpoint its most costly weaknesses, identify a better solution, and sell the investment to the higher-ups based on these findings.This is exactly what BC consultants do. A good consultancy stays on top of the best technologies, so you don’t have to. They can identify the right solutions based on the needs of your business, your recovery objectives, your infrastructure and your budget.The same goes for network continuity, malware/virus software and other critical infrastructure that keep your business running.
- What is the most effective emergency communication strategy?Who needs to be contacted first during a disaster? How do you know the quickest ways to reach them? How will the rest of the organization get updates during a disaster that has knocked out your traditional communication routes or blocked access to the office?Communication is a must during any type of disruptive event. Your consultant can work with you to develop an effective strategy that ensures everyone will remain “in the loop” during a disaster. They can help develop calling trees, set up an external website or call-in line for emergency corporate messages and outline the overall strategy within your BCP.
- How do we secure a back-up location?You don’t necessarily have to be paying rent on a second office to be able to move your operations in an emergency.Some BC consultants will educate your recovery teams on the ways to secure backup locations at a moment’s notice. It’s not just the space you need to consider. You’ll also need to have a plan for accessing your systems remotely and providing equipment for critical staff: devices, chairs, desks and so on.If your office suddenly becomes inaccessible, your consultancy can help ensure that your business is able to rapidly set up shop somewhere else.
- How do we protect our people?People are often an afterthought in business continuity planning. But when you’re thinking about disaster preparedness, you need to consider how your employees could be harmed.In an event like a fire, for example, staff should know how and where to safely evacuate the building, without resorting to panic. And what if people are injured in an event such as an explosion? Do you have a way to provide medical care until responders arrive? What about a safe room or location for the injured to receive care?These are important components of disaster preparedness that a consultant can help you with, as part of your comprehensive business continuity plan.
Plan for the unexpected
For more information on how to protect your organization with today’s best backup and disaster recovery solutions, contact our business continuity experts at Invenio IT. Call (646) 395-1170, email us at [email protected], or request a free demo to see how you can recover your data, from anywhere, in a matter of minutes.