What is continuity planning and why it’ll save your business

by | Aug 31, 2016 | Business Continuity

What is continuity planning anyway?

Running a business can present a number of challenges at the best of times, but the threat of a natural disaster or terrorism could be devastating to your business operations. Even during a natural disaster, your shareholders expect your business to remain profitable. That’s why the creation of a business continuity plan is so important. So what is continuity planning? According to Investopedia, a business continuity plan is a strategy designed to mitigate any potential risks or threats in order to keep the company running in the event of a disaster.

Why do you need a business continuity plan?

Businesses face a myriad number of threats that could affect business operations. According to Public Safety Canada, these threats include sabotage, cyber attacks, accidents, floods, blizzards, tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, power outages and many others. In order to survive and remain profitable, your business will need a strategy in place to recover from these unforeseen circumstances. The creation of a business continuity plan insures you have the necessary information and resources to resume regular operation.

What’s in a business continuity plan?

A business continuity plan should include all the necessary information to get your business up and running as soon as possible in the event of an unforeseen disaster. According to TechTarget, a business continuity plan:

should clearly state the business’ essential functions in writing. The document should identify and prioritize which systems and procedures must be sustained and provide the necessary information for maintaining them.

The plan should include copies of important records, employee contact information, important telephone numbers, a list of important business functions, an “inventory of the company’s computer equipment and software” and any other important information.

Steps to creating a business continuity plan

There are four steps to creating a business continuity strategy. These steps are conducting a business impact analysis, creating a recovery strategy, developing a continuity plan and training your employees to correctly follow the plan.

  1. Business impact analysis: The impact analysis helps you to determine your recovery priorities after a disaster. Create a questionnaire and distribute it to all high level managers who understand business operations. Use this questionnaire to determine the “operational and financial impacts resulting from the loss of individual business functions.” You should also determine the point at which the loss of these functions would impede the businesses ability to function.
  2. Develop a recovery strategy: After conducting the business impact analysis, you should understand which documents, resources and procedures are necessary to keep your business running. Begin developing recovery strategies to get these processes up and running as soon as possible. One way to do this is to run a gap analysis to identify any gaps that exist between your recovery requirements and you businesses capabilities. Once this is done, you can begin crafting an implementation strategy.
  3. Develop and continuity plan: Once your recovery strategy is in place, begin developing a plan to implement that strategy. Identify employees to serve on the a business recovery team. These will be the people in charge of implementing your continuity plan. In the event that automated systems are off-line, it’s important to identify manual workarounds. To ensure everyone is on the same page, your disaster recovery plan and information technology recovery procedures should be specified in writing.
  4. Testing and training: With a continuity plan in place, it’s important to develop a rigorous testing and training program. Make sure your business continuity team undergoes regular training. Document the results of any training sessions and incorporate lessons learned into future plans.
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Once your continuity plan is in place, distribute it to management and the business continuity team. Print copies of the plan should be stored “within a room designated as the emergency operations center.” This will allow team members easy access to the plan in the event of an emergency.

If you’d like to learn more about business continuity planning, contact us today.

Dale Shulmistra is a Business Continuity Specialist at Invenio IT, responsible for shaping the company’s technology initiatives -- selecting, designing, implementing & supporting business continuity solutions to bolster client operational efficiencies and eliminate downtime.