“Downtime” has become a serious business risk in a world that is always on. While employees may still adhere to the 9-5 working hours, online operations are required to be accessible at all times. For online shopping, checking email, international communication, and more, downtime is extremely costly.
To maintain an appropriate level of risk mitigation, savvy businesses are utilizing Business Continuity Management (BCM). BCM entails identifying potential threats, creating a response framework, and ensuring the organization’s resilience to maintain essential functions during adverse events.
The primary goal of BCM is to reduce downtime and protect the company. One of the main tenets supporting a business continuity plan is a robust system for data backup and disaster recovery, to protect the company’s critical data from loss or leak.
How important are these actions? FEMA notes that around 25% of businesses don’t reopen after experiencing disaster. When it comes to disaster planning and BCM, the stakes are very high.
What Is Business Continuity Management?
Business continuity management is the creation of a framework to ensure that a business can maintain or quickly resume normal operations in the event of a disaster. This is an in-depth, ongoing process to identify risks, develop procedures for handling every aspect of found risks, and following that up with testing and review.
The actions surrounding BCM ensures an organization’s ability to maintain their legal and regulatory compliance obligations during disruptive events like natural disasters or malicious cyber-attacks. For example, the financial industry regulatory authority (FINRA) has requirements for keeping third-party financial information confidential and safe. These actions may also be required by insurance, and to a lesser extent, a business’s customer base.
While there are a number of crucial components to a thorough and robust BCM, three branches truly make up the critical functions of business continuity management systems.
Business Continuity Emergency Management and Response
This pillar of BCM addresses the actions that must be taken immediately in response to a critical event. Health and safety of personnel is tantamount, which means evacuation and injury response planning are major elements of this branch.
In a crisis, communication is often murky and conflicting, so designating personnel to relay information to local authorities is a good means of reducing misinformation.
Crisis Management and Communication
Once the immediate threat is addressed, we move on to the crisis management pillar of BCM. By creating a plan with detailed responsibilities and hierarchy of communication, an organization supports ongoing risk assessment to personnel and key business functions.
This can include identifying and locating necessary resources to recover from the initial crisis, tracking various teams working toward recovery, and maintaining clear communication channels with executive management.
Restoration of Normal Business Operations
With the crisis under control, we now work toward business restoration and operational recovery. A solid disaster recovery plan to get business processes back online as efficiently and expediently as possible can minimize the effects of the disaster.
Forming this framework will also draw attention to the risk management side of business continuity planning, giving consideration to where threats and vulnerabilities may originate. Mitigating disaster before it strikes is better than doing a real-world test of disaster recovery, but trial runs are still a necessary step to robust threat management.
Support Your BCM With a Business Continuity Plan
The business continuity planning process takes all three branches of BCM and compiles them into one grand plan outlining every aspect of threat mitigation, response, and recovery.
This document gives objectives and definitions to every aspect of adverse events. A robust plan should include all the following:
- Definition of what constitutes a disaster,
- Risk assessment of an organization’s vulnerabilities,
- Specific responsibilities of personnel, such as a crisis management team,
- Definition of acceptable recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO),
- Communication protocols,
- Technological resources for data backup, disaster recovery and restoration,
- Frequency for how often testing and “fire drills” need to occur, and
- Steps for performing a business impact analysis after a real or practice event.
This plan should be thought of as a living document, with frequent review to address new risks, updated technology, and operational changes. For example, the majority of personnel in your organization might be working remotely now, which could have a major impact on your business continuity planning. And if a new site is opened up, there could be site-specific risks that your plan needs to address.
A Smart Business Continuity Strategy Relies on the Cloud
During the planning process, as your organization’s BCM identifies potential risks, you will undoubtedly see the benefit of using the cloud for efficient and effective data backup and recovery. Even redundant offsite systems don’t have the agility and resilience that cloud storage can offer.
But this can be tricky.
The most iron-clad BCM plan means nothing if you leave your data with an untrustworthy or vulnerable host. When it comes to mission-critical data, you need a deep level of confidence and trust in your cloud provider. That level of assurance requires a thorough vetting of their security and compliance systems.
At Virtual Systems, we are the advanced cloud security experts. We’ll walk you through our layers of security services, until you are confident that we are the right cloud-first IT partner to protect your organization’s most precious asset: the data. And whether it’s a real disaster or a test run, we’ll be with you every step of the way to ensure your disaster recovery goes smoothly and restores your critical functions and data storage.
And since we don’t do anything halfway, our cloud infrastructure is ready-built to meet your compliance requirements, whether your organization needs to comply with HIPAA, PCI, SOC2, NIST, and more. Reduce your risk with a trusted cloud service provider.
How to Get Started
Whether you’re building your BCM strategy from the ground up, or doing an annual refresh, optimizing your solution will benefit the entire organization. For a closer look at how Virtual Systems can streamline your backup and disaster recovery, check out our Quickstart Disaster Recovery Guide. Deploy your recovery solution in just six steps!
FEMA. (2018, October 30). Stay in Business after a Disaster by Planning Ahead [press release]. Retrieved from https://www.fema.gov/press-release/20210318/stay-business-after-disaster-planning-ahead