Business Continuity

Business Continuity (BC) is the intended outcome of proper execution of Business continuity planning and Disaster recovery. It is the payoff for cost-effective buying of spare machines and servers, performing backups and bringing them off-site, assigning responsibility, performing drills, educating employees, and being vigilant.

A major cost in planning for this is the preparation of audit compliance management documents; automation tools are available to reduce the time and cost associated with manually producing this information. Several business continuity standards have been published by various standards bodies to assist in check listing these ongoing tasks.

The most basic business continuity requirement is to keep essential functions up and running during a disaster and to recover with as little downtime as possible. A business continuity plan considers various unpredictable events, such as natural disasters, fires, disease outbreaks, cyber-attacks, and other external threats.

Business continuity is important for organizations of any size, but it might not be practical for any but the largest enterprises to maintain all functions for the duration of a disaster. According to many experts, the first step in business continuity planning is deciding what functions are essential and allocating the available budget accordingly. Once crucial components have been identified, administrators can put failover mechanisms in place.

Technologies such as disk mirroring enable an organization to maintain up-to-date copies of data in geographically dispersed locations, not just in the primary data center. This enables data access to continue uninterrupted if one location is disabled and protects against data loss.

Business continuity (BC) involves two distinct areas:

Business continuity planning (BCP), where a plan is developed that when implemented, will help to prevent operational interruptions, crises, and disasters happening and will help the organization quickly return to a state of ‘business as usual’ should any of these events occur. Once it has been prepared the business continuity plan must be tested and exercised to ensure that it will perform as anticipated.

Business continuity management this is:

  • The ongoing management of the business continuity plans to ensure that they are always current and available; and
  • The ongoing management of operational resilience and process availability within an organization, with the aim of ensuring that the organization experiences the minimum possible day-to-day disruption.

Business continuity (BC) covers the planning and preparation needed to ensure an organization will have the capability to perform its critical business functions during emergency events. It identifies, plans for, and/or creates:

  • How to communicate with customers, vendors, and other third parties to ensure you are providing good information and support.
  • How to ensure services or products can still be provided to customers.
  • The order and timing required to restore business processes.
  • How to support employees during an emergency event.
  • The required technology to support the business functions (disaster recovery or DR will implement recovery solutions for technology).
  • Workaround processes to use when technology is not available.
  • Where and how to relocate people and processes in the event business locations are impacted or not available.
  • The teams and organization that will be necessary to manage emergency events.
  • Business process dependencies (what, or who does each business process rely upon in order to do their work).
  • Regular exercises to validate that plans and actions meet requirements and will be functional in an actual event.
  • Ensure staffing levels will be adequate during an event for both external and internal needs.
  • Documentation of the steps and actions to take during an event to accomplish the items above.

Importance of Business Continuity (BC) –

At a time when downtime is unacceptable, business continuity is critical. Downtime comes from a variety of sources. Some threats, such as cyber-attacks and extreme weather, seem to be getting worse. It’s important to have a business continuity plan in place that considers any potential disruptions to operations.

The plan should enable the organization to keep running at least at a minimal level during a crisis. Business continuity helps the organization maintain resiliency, in responding quickly to an interruption. Strong business continuity saves money, time, and company reputation. An extended outage risks financial, personal, and reputational loss.

Business continuity requires an organization to take a look at itself, analyze potential areas of weakness and gather key information such as contact lists and technical diagrams of a system that can be useful outside of disaster situations. In undertaking the business continuity planning process, an organization can improve its communication, technology, and resilience.

Business continuity might even be a requirement for legal or compliance reasons. Especially in an era of increased regulation, it’s important to understand which regulations affect a given organization.

 

Information Sources:

  1. continuitycentral.com
  2. searchdisasterrecovery.techtarget.com
  3. mha-it.com