In past blogs we touched on all the ways your business can be disrupted—hurricanes, snow storms, epidemics, earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorism, floods, fires, even relatively minor incidents like the recent New York City steam-pipe explosion or a planned event like an office relocation. The best solution is to have a solid business continuity plan in place to minimize the impact and keep your business running through the tough times.
Here are some key elements that you should keep in mind while designing your business continuity strategy.
- Identify the Team - In an emergency, people shouldn’t have to wonder who’s in charge. Create a business continuity team with members in every part of your organization, in every location where you operate. These employees will lead the local response to local events as well as the organization-wide response for both local and broader-based emergencies and stay involved in planning and testing throughout the year
- Document the Plan - As a team you should consider every possible type of disruptions that could occur at each of yoitr locations. Then figure out what you’d need to do to maintain your most important operations. Rank your recovery priorities in terms of whatever matters most to your organization and map these to applications, people, facilities and equipment. Then identify recovery strategies and costs around each process. This will also help IT make sure that the most critical applications will be available to the business within an established recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO).
- Continually Test - Review and update your plan at least once a year, and ideally more often than that, to reflect changes in your IT environment, business priorities, operational structure and other factors. Conduct full simulations at least annually as well, covering everything from application recoverability to crisis communications. An out-of-date or ineffective business continuity plan can be worse than none at all.4. Crisis communications
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate - Effective communications can make the difference between panic and smooth emergency response. Create a communication plan the incorporates phone, email, public address, intranet, IM, texting and the company website. Draft sample emergency messages in advance so they can be updated quickly during an actual emergency, and make sure you’re prepared to deliver a consistent message to the public.
- Ensure Access to Key Business Systems & Resources - It’s important to keep people working—not just to maintain productivity, but to protect data keep your business running. Virtualized technologies make it possible for people to work wherever it’s safe and convenient, whether at home, in a hotel or a workspace recovery center. Organizations that already enable mobile workstyles are way ahead of the game in this scenario. Instead of having to get used to disaster mode as an entirely different way of working, people just keep using the same remote access tools they always do, just in a different location.
- Ensure Continuous IT operations - Systems and Data center continuity is the final element. Most large organizations already have more than one data center for scale and redundancy. If one comes offline for any reason—planned or unplanned—people should be able to switch seamlessly to another to access the same apps and data. Make sure your infrastructure can support this response in terms of rapid, automated failover, load balancing and network capacity.
As always, if you need assistance designing, updating or implementing a disaster recovery plan, our team is here to help.