What Do You Know About Business Continuity Plans?

There likely isn’t a company in the USA that doesn’t carry insurance.

But here’s the unvarnished truth.

Insurance isn’t designed to guarantee the continuity of your service delivery to your clients. Insurance is there to make sure you have the money to regroup and rebuild, but what to do in the meantime?

If you don’t have a business continuity plan in place, the time lag between the fire, flood, storm, criminal act, or an extended power outage that takes out your IT systems and your recovery date could be long enough to kill your business.

But you already know that, right?

So let’s get right into the information that you need.

Business Continuity Question #1 – What kind of companies can benefit from a business continuity plan?

The short answer is that every business needs a business continuity strategy. Having said that, industries that are highly reliant on IT infrastructure and data are most vulnerable and therefore can be most helped by a carefully calculated business continuity plan.

Business Continuity Question #2 – What is a business continuity consultant and what do they do?

A business continuity consultant is an individual with both business technology support skills as well as experience in protecting business processes. A business continuity consultant will work with your in-house team to discover the workflows that would need to be ported to a new location if a disaster occurred, the process by which those workflows are moved, and the training your employees need to make a potential continuity strategy enactment a success.

Business Continuity Question #3 – How to choose a business continuity consultant?

  • Start Small – Give the consultant a small task in which he/she can prove their expertise and abilities to you, then move on to a larger contract.
  • Check References and Social Media – By exploring both the references provided by the potential consultant as well as recommendations and comments on their public FaceBook and LinkedIn profiles, you can get a good idea of the quality of work they have done for others.
  • Do An Interview – Don’t just assume that the individual calling themselves a consultant knows what they are doing. Do your research and conduct a formal interview.
  • Define the Extent of Your Business Continuity Requirements – Are you simply looking to have access to your computer systems form a remote location – such as your home or a rental office – in the event of an emergency, or do you want a plan that encompasses relocation of elements of the business that are more involved such as manufacturing processes? Knowing the scope of what you need keeps a consultant within bounds.
  • Determine Whether You Require an ISO22301 Accredited Consultant – Getting your business to comply with ISO22301 is a big project. Not all businesses and industries require ISO22301, but if yours is one of them, be sure the individuals you hire are qualified and up to the job.

Business Continuity Question #5 – What should I ask when interviewing a business continuity consultant?

  • Have you consulted for any companies in our industry? – Can I give them a call?
  • Will you be doing the actual work or will it be someone else?
  • Tell me about your qualifications and training.
  • What is your ideal client? – Is it us?
  • What company structure best fits your consulting process?
  • Tell me about a company that has experienced a disaster and has recovered thanks to strategies you had set up for them ahead of time.

Business Continuity Question #6 – What problems could derail a business continuity strategy?

  • Inability to find and secure services – of needed suppliers for the business continuity plan. Suppliers may include:
    • Transportation
    • Staffing
    • Waste Management
    • Unique services or products
    • Electricity
    • Fuel
    • Water
    • Phone and Internet
    • Facilities
  • Inability to identify critical processes – If a consultant cannot identify the processes needed in a secondary, failover scenario – or cannot agree with management as to which processes are essential – the building of the business continuity strategy could fail.
  • Inability to maintain a ready posture – If a business cannot maintain the business continuity plan put in place, the plan is worse than a useless piece of paper. Whey? Because it provides a false sense of security.
  • Employee Turnover – A business continuity plan requires everyone to know their role in an emergency situation and to play their part. If employee turnover is such that employees are not being trained on the business continuity strategy, the plan fails.
  • Wrong Company Culture – A solid business continuity plan requires a company culture that is detail oriented and process driven.
  • Limited Budget – If a company does not have sufficient budget to go through a thorough investigative and implementation process, the business continuity strategy is doomed from the beginning.
  • Missing Management Support – Business continuity strategies have to be championed at the highest levels of the organization. If they are not, the project and its end result is widely ignored by all employees except those immediately involved in the strategy process.

Business Continuity Question #7 – What elements will a business continuity consultant include in this strategic process?

  • Essential Workflows
  • Recovery Time and Recovery Point Objectives for Data and Applications
  • Facility Risk Assessment
  • Capacity Assessment for “Plan B”
  • Allowances Made for “Plan C”
  • Compliance Impact Assessment
  • Considerations for Physical and Data Security
  • Continuity Embedded at the Project Level
  • Warning Systems as Possible to Alert of Potential Disasters
  • Relocation of Staff and Families if Needed
  • Relocation of Processes Out of Area Affected by Disaster
  • Continuous Access to Avenue of Payment for Staff
  • Redundant Avenues of Services and Products Needed for Workflows
  • Ongoing Regular Testing of Business Continuity Strategy
  • C-Level Executive in Charge of Maintaining Readiness
  • Succession Plans for Key Positions and Individuals

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