Businesses are always dependent on good planning and execution to achieve success. Proper planning is mandatory for any type of business and should be defined upfront to tackle any situation and eventuality. The capability of a business to continue its operations and deliver service within acceptable levels in any kind of adverse scenario is referred to as business continuity.
Business continuity planning is about creating a systematic approach and plan to tackle any situation that can pose a threat to the existence of the company or the smooth functioning of its business. The steps that explain how a disruptive incident can be prevented and what needs to be done to recover post the incident is covered as part of the business continuity planning.
Examples of threats mentioned above are natural disasters, man-made disasters, adverse weather conditions and crashing of the entire infrastructure as a whole. The terminology of business disruption, disaster recovery and business continuity planning are commonly referred to in the software industry. In the context of the software industry, the focus is on protecting the systems and applications that help to run the business from such adverse scenarios. Recovery of systems affected is about getting them up and running at the earliest to ensure that businesses are back to normal and running after an incident that caused disruption.
A very recent example is the Covid19 pandemic situation that forced businesses to close their offices and have people connect remotely to provide support. Given that scenario was abnormal, specific steps had to be put in place in a short period to ensure that coordination happened well and the business was kept up and running.
The business continuity plan refers to the steps and procedures chartered by an organization to restore or sustain critical business functions in the event of a major disaster that had a worse effect on the regular functioning of systems and other functions. Some of the common examples of disruptive incidents can be natural calamity, service outages, security issues and other threats.
Some of the key information included in a business continuity plan is
- An inventory of the systems and their application
- Regular backups that are needed to regain the lost information
- Alternate equipment and sites that can be used to restore the situation
- Contracts and agreements with other parties involved
- Emergency contact information of the important staff and stakeholders whose roles are vital in restoring the business functions
The standards of business continuity are updated frequently as appropriate to improve the planning and recovery procedures. Loss and impact to the business are lower when the ability to prevent and recover from challenging situations is well crafted and executed.
Preparation of a professional business continuity would involve the below set of steps and actions.
- Formation of a competent team to tackle the adverse scenarios
- Understand the objectives of the plan – what needs to be done to achieve business continuity, what preventive steps have to be taken, what actions are required to recover and restore
- Review the plan with major stakeholders across the important departments and get their alignment
- Identify the critical functions of the business
- Perform risk assessments and analysis of the impact to the business
- Prepare the plan with all the details captured in a clear and concise manner
- Test the plan in a mock situation
In the event of a natural calamity or disaster affecting the business, the BCP team gets together and executes the defined plan which is already in place to minimize the impact, prevent further damage and restore the business functions. The situation is subsequently monitored over some time until the situation is back to normal and under control.