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Business continuity is a concept every organisation needs to consider. Essentially, it involves putting strategies in place to ensure your organisation can continue to operate effectively at all times.
After all, the cost of unexpected downtime and disruptions in a company can equal around £300,000 per hour for some global businesses (or £5,000 per minute).
Every company is dependent on a specific set of mission-critical tools, processes, and procedures. While it’s difficult to prepare for every potential issue which might disrupt your business, business continuity planning can help to minimise your risk.
In the technology industry, where organisations need to respond quickly to sector evolutions, new regulations, and changing customer demands at speed, business continuity is essential.
What Is Business Continuity In The Tech Industry and Why Is It Important?
Business continuity in the tech industry is the process of preparing your company for all kinds of unknown and potential eventualities. It begins with identifying key processes and functions in the operation of your technology company. Once crucial components responsible for running your business are evident, you can put “failover” mechanisms in place.
For instance, automated cloud storage systems can regularly upload critical data to a cloud environment, so a computer failure doesn’t prevent companies from accessing key information. A disk mirroring strategy can maintain up-to-date data copies in geographically dispersed locations, so brands can continue to operate, even if one environment’s technology fails.
Business continuity aims to protect businesses against “downtime”, or moments wherein the company is unable to function as normal. The right plans enable the organisation to continue running, even at a minimal level, during times of crisis. Business continuity helps companies to:
- Avoid the rising costs of unexpected downtime and continue earning revenue
- Preserve company reputation and credibility
- Save time on restarting business operations after a disaster
- Maintain resiliency when faced by various business interruptions
- Avoid losing the investment of important shareholders.
- Remain compliant with local and industry regulations
What is Business Continuity Management?
Successful business continuity requires an organisation to evaluate its processes, areas of weakness, and potential issues on a global scale, then create strategies for maintaining strength. “Business continuity management” involves building a specific plan of action for dealing with potential disasters, which can be implemented throughout the organisation.
As part of a business continuity management plan, leaders in a business attempt to identify and address possible crisis before they happen. For instance, technology companies face a lot of threats around data management and protection. A continuity management plan may therefore include identifying safe ways of storing data, and ensuring it can be accessed in a crisis.
Business continuity management also involves:
- Defining who will be responsible for which parts of a business continuity plan
- Examining, auditing, and updating response plans based on the discovery of new threats.
- Creating policies for employees to follow in regard to business continuity
Business Continuity Vs Disaster Recovery
Business continuity is often confused with a number of other defensive actions and response techniques used by companies to deal with disasters. For instance, you may believe “business continuity” and “disaster recovery” are the same thing.
While disaster recovery is often an important part of a business continuity plan, it’s not exactly the same concept. Business continuity involves creating an entire strategy to keep businesses operational during an unexpected event. Disaster recovery, on the other hand, focuses on restoring access to critical infrastructure and tools following a disaster.
Business Continuity Vs Crisis Management
In some cases, people can also confuse business continuity with “crisis management”. Once again, both of these concepts are focused on protecting a business. However, business continuity is a holistic process for identifying and responding to the potential impact of various risks. The objective here is to increase the resilience of the organisation, and side-step disruptions.
Crisis management, on the other hand, is the process of coordinating an organization’s response to a significant issue. It involves outlining exactly which team members need to be involved in dealing with a disaster, and how they will be expected to act. The focus here is primarily on protecting a company’s reputation, profitability, and ability to operate.
How to Create a Business Continuity Plan
The exact structure of your business continuity plan may vary depending on your company and the unique threats it can face. However, the general process of developing a business continuity plan usually involves some of the following steps:
Carry out a risk assessment
Every business continuity plan begins with a risk assessment. This process involves evaluating your company and identifying the areas where it might be vulnerable. For instance, some of the most common “risks” businesses can look at include:
- Systems and processes
- Business partners
- Equipment and IT
- Legal compliance
- Finances and cashflow
It’s often helpful to have multiple people in the business involved in a risk assessment, from various departments. This can help companies to pinpoint issues a single person may overlook.
Write a BCP
Following your risk assessment, you can begin to work on your “Business Continuity Plan”, or “BCP”. Your BCP will outline the major risks you face, and what you plan to do if these issues influence your business.
For instance, if you’re concerned there may be a chance employees will try to steal or misuse valuable data from your tech company, you can set up access controls to ensure only the right people can leverage certain information.
Your BCP should include ideas on how to avoid the risk, as well as what you’re going to do if the problem occurs. It’s a good idea to outline which members of staff will be involved in responding to the issue too. For instance, if you have a problem with your IT equipment, you’ll need to get your IT and financial staff involved in repairing the problem.
Communicate and Test
Finally, you’ll need to communicate the details of your business continuity plan to your employees, and test to see whether your strategy works. You may want to rehearse responses to key areas by running simulations of potential issues.
For instance, you can show your employees how you would respond to a data breach in your business, then simulate a loss of data to see how employees respond. Rehearsing your responses to potential disasters will give you an opportunity to see any issues with your current plan, and fix them before a disruptive problem occurs.