Business Continuity (BC) and Disaster Recovery (DR) are both integral parts of a company’s recovery strategies to maintain or resume operations at the earliest opportunity after an unexpected interruption or natural disaster. The critical business functions of business continuity and disaster recovery planning are risk management of financial loss and reputational damage.
The increasing threat of cyber attacks, potential threats, and decreasing tolerance for business downtime in a hyper-competitive world have made BC and DR higher priorities than ever before. An emerging trend often combines BC and DR into one overarching BCDR effort between senior managers in business and technology to enable close collaboration between the groups.
What’s the value of having a BCDR program? Recent research supports the idea that every $1 your company spends on mitigating potential business interruptions can save your $4 in response and recovery costs. Recovery as a service, cloud-based computing used for protecting data from a natural or human disaster or service disruption is becoming an essential business process.
A successful BCDR program involves input from company executives and key personnel in every department. A critical first step is the creation of a Business Continuity Disaster Recovery (BCDR) Plan includes a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) and provisions for ongoing employee training. A BIA is performed to determine which functions and processes must be prioritized to limit any unexpected interruption of service effectively. A BCDR Plan is developed to outline the necessary step-by-step procedures for successful prevention or recovery.
It may be helpful to consider a BIA as the ‘what’ factor for Business Continuity and the BCP as the ‘how’ factor for Disaster Recovery in a BCDR Plan. Having such a plan in place provides a much-needed aspect of confidence for employees during any disaster situation. A BCDR Plan eliminates all guesswork and gives management a level of assurance that each employee knows his or her specific role for every eventuality, regardless of how surprising or damaging any interruption can be.
A BC plan is only as good as the employees in charge; therefore, employee training must be performed to ensure employees follow recovery steps in the proper order and in a correct manner. The necessary training can vary in time and scope, depending on the actions taken.
Senior management relies heavily on a BCDR Plan when preparing annual budgets. It helps answer the question of which functions and processes are covered under existing insurance and whether additional protection needs to be considered.
Depending on the scope of the business involved, a BCDR plan can be rather concise or a document consisting of hundreds of pages contained in a large binder. Each employee should be given at least one copy of the plan and perhaps a second copy to keep at home if the company office cannot be accessed in case of an emergency. One best practice is to put copies of the disaster recovery strategies in a bright orange folder or binder for quick identification when needed.
Many BCDR plans use decision trees to help employees become familiar with a variety of potential disasters that could trigger a business continuity event and what actions need to be taken for every process and function that could be adversely affected.
A one-and-done approach doesn’t work when training employees. All businesses are in a constant state of change, especially when it comes to technology. Ongoing advancements in tech and other areas make it essential to review a BCDR plan several times a year to determine if any recovery processes should be changed or updated.
No BCDR plan is complete without a list of clients, vendors, and various third parties that must depend on the plan to ensure business continuity and minimize potential loss. Business partners and customers benefit from knowing you have taken the necessary steps to protect their best interests.
BCDR plans should be tested frequently, much in the same way employees are asked to participate in fire drills for their personal safety and regular medical checkups for their health. It comes down to having a workable Plan that employees can successfully act upon in times of emergency.
The growing need for BCDR plans can be attributed, in part, to compliance regulations. Many small- and medium-sized businesses operate under the same regulatory requirements as large firms. One of the reasons more companies are hiring third-party BCDR plan experts is to achieve the peace of mind that only a team of value-added specialists can provide. Planning for proper preparedness is priceless.