Very few business owners would dispute the wisdom behind having a business continuity plan. This doesn’t stop many (if not most) businesses from having an outdated, ineffective, incomplete or untested plan.
Similar to insurance, this provides the "peace of mind" in knowing you have a disaster recovery and/or business continuity plan, but may never use it. As a result these plans are frequently incomplete in design, and execution.
"Every business continuity plan should have these elements, at a minimum!"
Data and Image Backup
- Store backups on and off site – local backups are great for a quick recovery solution from minor issues. While off site storage (automated) can only greater ensure the disaster that affected your office, can’t affect your backup.
- Perform frequent and regular test restores of backed up data. If you think a disaster hurts – discovering that your backed up data is corrupt will only adds insult to injury.
- Have a plan to notify employees how, when, and where they can work if something happens to your facility.
-Have a plan to notify partners and suppliers if a disaster affects your place of business. Alternate contact info, and expected duration of downtime. This will help your supply chains adapt to your circumstances after a disaster
- Have a plan to notify clients if a disaster affects your business. They will need to know how fast you will be able to resume operations. Lack of communication along these lines will cause them to assume your business is in dire straits and take their business elsewhere
Drilling and Testing
- Test backups and conduct drills often, ensuring you can restore a down server from your backed up data.
- Document procedures for conducting all the phases of your Disaster Recovery plan. Having this documentation in the hands of trusted personnel within your organization.
- Don’t assume your IT person will be available after a disaster - make sure more than one person knows how to restore your systems.
- Store important information offsite – a list of phone numbers to call after a fire won’t do any good if it burns up in the fire.
- Update your plan yearly. Personnel change, phone numbers change, suppliers change and technology changes. A business continuity plan that hasn’t changed in 2 years may be useless when a disaster strikes.
You'll still hope to never use your business continuity plan. Of course, if you were to need it, your business will be on the fast track to to resume operations as soon as possible. It will give your business a leg up on your competition.