In-house or outsource? Who should manage your business continuity?
Let’s not sugarcoat it. Managing business continuity is burdensome.
It eats up time. It costs money. It gets in the way of your most pressing responsibilities. But without it, the company would be toast in a disaster. But, should you outsource business continuity?
40% of businesses never reopen after a major disaster, according to FEMA. However, with an active strategy for business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR), you can ensure your company will continue operating during a disruptive event.
Every organization needs to do this planning. The problem is: not every organization has the time or resources to manage it all themselves.
In this post, we help you answer a burning question among today’s businesses: should you manage BC/DR in-house or hire an outside expert?
The daunting task of BC/DR
Why is business continuity management so painful? Because it’s dynamic. There are lots of moving parts, and each one requires lots of time and attention.
Here are just a few of the critical ongoing tasks of BC/DR:
- Creating and updating the business continuity plan
- Identifying weaknesses in existing BC/DR infrastructure
- Researching and implementing new technologies
- Setting protocols for disaster prevention and response
- Performing risk assessments
- Analyzing the potential impact of disruptive events
- Overseeing emergency communications systems
- Securing backup locations, equipment and assets
Case in point: it’s a lot of work. And chances are you can’t do it alone — you’ll need a whole team to manage it all.
Should you hire an expert? Here’s how to tell
It’s not that difficult to determine whether to manage business continuity in-house or hire some outside experts. There are several glaring signs that make it obvious when you need help.
If you’ve encountered any of these red flags, then it’s probably time to hire a BC consultant:
- Your staff has little knowledge or experience with business continuity
- Nobody has the time to take on the added responsibilities
- The calculations needed for risk assessment and business impact analyses are too complex for in-house staff
- Your business continuity plan is severely outdated and/or inadequate
- Any downtime would be a disaster for the business
- You’ve already suffered a disaster that proved your BC strategy is lacking
- You’re having trouble convincing stakeholders of the importance of continuity planning
- In-house staff aren’t up to date on current BC/DR technologies—and also don’t have the time to keep up
- Currently implemented strategies are failing, incomplete or inadequate
Any one of these signs should tell you that your in-house BC/DR efforts (or lack thereof) would probably be better in the hands of an outside expert.
What do business continuity consultants do?
In short, they can literally save your business. But the longer answer is: BC consultants perform a wide range of continuity duties, from initial planning to full-service implementation of disaster-recovery technologies.
There are many types of consultants. Some may offer services only in their unique area of expertise (i.e. technology), whereas larger consultancies may provide 360-degree business continuity management.
An experienced consultant should be able to answer your most critical questions regarding BC/DR, including:
- What goes in the BCP?
- What are our greatest risks?
- How would a disruptive event impact the business?
- Which technologies do we need to maintain continuity?
- How do we determine recovery objectives, like RTO and RPO?
- Do we need to comply with any regulatory laws for continuity? How?
Each of these questions require complex answers. For example, you can’t determine your greatest risks without a thorough risk assessment by a qualified professional. You can’t determine the impact of certain disruptions without a comprehensive business impact analysis.
As such, an outside expert provides not only the answers, but also the tools and expertise to making the right BC implementations at your organization.
The cost effectiveness of hiring an external pro
So far, we’ve focused on the most obvious reasons for outsourcing your business continuity management: not knowing how to do it effectively in-house.
But there’s another, less apparent reason for hiring an expert: it can actually save a lot of money. There are two primary ways in which outsourcing BCM can be more cost-effective:
- Time and skill use: Continuity planning is a full-time job. But actually hiring a new employee for the role—or assigning the role to existing staffers—can be cost prohibitive. Additionally, if your staff doesn’t have the right expertise, they may not be using their time efficiently. Remember, time is money. When you break down the costs of hiring an experienced outside expert vs. using in-house teams, you may find that outsourcing the role makes more financial sense.
- Downtime cost vs. cost of hiring an expert: When disaster strikes, operations grind to a halt. The cost of this downtime can be exorbitant: as much as $8,581 per hour, by some estimates. Thus, the risks and cost of downtime far outweigh the cost of hiring a BC guru. Similarly, if you’re deciding to handle BC planning in-house, you better be sure your teams know what they’re doing, or else the risks are just dangerous. Hiring a skilled outside pro will properly mitigate risks, stave off disaster and save money in the long run.
Curious how much downtime could cost your company? Try this calculator – the numbers may shock you.
Tips for hiring an external pro
Once you’ve made the decision to hire a business continuity expert, you need to find the right one. As we mentioned earlier, not all consultants offer the same services. But equally important, not all consultants have the same level of expertise.
Here are a few tips to finding a qualified BC expert for your needs:
- Look for extensive experience: Check how long the consultant has been in business. Regardless of their specialty, this is generally a good indicator of skill level and expertise: the more experience, the better. It’s also a good idea to ask how many clients they’re actively serving and how old those accounts are.
- See how their client’s businesses compare to yours: Ideally, you should be working with someone who already serves companies like yours. Companies in your industry will have similar continuity objectives and infrastructure. This will eliminate the initial learning curve that would otherwise result from a consultant who wasn’t familiar with your industry.
- Chat before you sign: Always consult with the expert before you make any agreements. Don’t jump the gun. This is a good time to ask questions, set expectations and find out how much the consultant knows about BC/DR and your industry.
- Verify credibility and ratings: Look for online reviews of the consultancy. If none are available, ask for a list of references: current and/or previous clients that you can speak to directly. This is a great opportunity to find out exactly how other businesses’ continuity needs are being met by your prospective consultant.
- Keep an eye on responsiveness: It’s a bad sign if your prospective consultant is slow to return your calls and emails. Just imagine what would happen if you needed them during an emergency. If you find that the expert isn’t very responsive during your initial consultations, then it’s probably time to look elsewhere.
- Ask for use cases: If applicable, ask for some real numbers that reveal how the consultant’s solutions have helped other clients: i.e. cost savings for deploying new technology, better RTO, risk mitigation and so on.
Auditing your business continuity plan
One of the first things a consultant will want to do is audit your BCP. But this is something you can do yourself (and should), as it can help reveal the areas where you need the help of an outside expert.
A BCP audit will identify weaknesses, outdated information and areas for improvement in your continuity planning.
Here are some fundamental steps for conducting a successful audit:
- Set specific objectives for your audit (i.e. to identify new risks)
- Coordinate across departments: your auditing team should consist of members from IT and other applicable business units
- Inspect plan details according to your objectives, looking for inaccuracies and weaknesses
- Test existing protocols to confirm if/how they meet their original continuity objectives
- Document your findings in a thorough report, stating exactly how the BCP and continuity solutions needed to be updated to mitigate risk
Your final report should also indicate the areas in which the business should seek an outside expert—and why. This is especially important if the report will be reviewed by stakeholders who will ultimately have the final say on whether to hire an external consultant.
Finding the right BC technology
With the rise of DRaaS (disaster recovery as a service), more companies are relying on third-party business continuity providers to deploy and manage their BC/DR solutions. New BDR technologies from companies like Datto, combined with the increasing power and cost-efficiency of cloud computing, has changed the game for data backup.
If you’re considering hiring an outside expert to manage your BDR systems, here are some things to look for:
- Professionals who specialize in the latest data-backup tech in the industry
- “Hybrid” backup technology that replicates data on-site and in the cloud
- Virtualization that lets you instantly boot backups as virtual machines for near-uninterrupted access to data and apps
- Faster, more resilient backups (see Datto’s Inverse Chain Technology) that allow for more frequent backups
- Built-in ransomware detection to identify and remove threats before they spread
Like every other consultant, your BC/DR provider should be an expert in the field, with extensive knowledge and expertise in today’s best tech for data protection.
Let our experts guide you
Find out how you can reduce costs and strengthen your continuity strategy with help from our BC experts at Invenio IT. Request a free demo of data-protection solutions from Datto, or contact us today at (646) 395-1170 or success@invenioIT.com.