Having a Business Continuity Plan is an important way to ensure your company can operate during and after a disaster. By assessing your business risk, you are able to protect your company and minimize downtime that may occur from unplanned business interruptions. Natural disasters including fire, earthquake, flooding and snowstorms can slow or halt operations. In addition, other threats including cyber attacks and data leaks can cause unplanned disruptions to your business. The impact of prolonged unplanned downtime can be reduced and or eliminated, but at what cost? Here are three things to consider when developing your Business Continuity Plan.
What is Your Cost of Downtime?
To develop a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan it is imperative to evaluate your risk of loss from downtime and business interruption. There are many factors to consider when calculating the risk of loss due to downtime. How much revenue would you lose per hour, day or week if your business was off line and you were unable to process orders? Could your inventory lose value if your factory, warehouse or retail operation were shut down? If you suffered a privacy breach what would be the impact to your company’s reputation? The risks and costs are different for each company based on industry, size and other factors. Start by assessing the risk to determine how quickly you need to react during and after a disruption.
How Fast do You Need to Recover (RTO vs RPO)?
The cost of downtime to your business is expensive. It is important to evaluate which applications and data are critical to your operations. During or after a disaster do you need these systems available within minutes, hours or days? Primary Factors that can influence your ability to recover are the Recovery Point Objectives (RPO), which is the time between backups and the Recovery Time Objective (RTO), which is how long it takes to get your data back. If you backup weekly to offline media including tape backup, your business is at risk of losing one week of data and it may take days or weeks to get your systems operational. There are various ways to ensure failover and rapid restore if you suffer a system wide outage. Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery, Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas) including application hosting and other remote data protection methods can ensure your systems are available within your RPO/RTO goals.
Human Element of a Business Continuity Plan
Don’t forget the human element in your business continuity plan. Ensure your employees are trained and understanding policy during and after a disaster. Have a plan for safe evacuation during a disaster will protect your employees and minimize business risk. Giving your employees the ability to access core communications and collaborations applications like email, file sharing, wide area networks, software as a service (SaaS) and other remote applications improve overall communications and could get your employees productive if they are unable to work on premise due to business interruption.
There are many other factors to consider when assessing risk and building a business continuity and disaster recovery plan. Take a holistic view of your business, systems and network security needs. If you feel your business may be at risk and your business continuity plan is out of date, contact your IT Service Professional for a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Risk Assessment.