disaster recovery

Keys to Creating an Effective Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

Nov 12, 2020

If anything, this year has been one long lesson in the necessity of disaster recovery and having a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place. Although no one could have possibly anticipated the scale of the disaster we faced, companies that had an effective plan in place were much quicker to get into the swing of things, stabilize work processes with a majorly remote workforce and much quicker to recover from the entire ordeal overall.

What did we learn from the experience?

Same thing as always.

It’s in the nature of disasters to be unplanned. No one knows when the next one will strike, what form it will take and how it will impact your business in the short and long-term. While disruptions cannot be avoided altogether, companies can certainly take steps to proactively prepare for a multitude of disaster scenarios. How quickly your business can bounce back from a disaster depends on your preparedness and the effectiveness of your business continuity plan.

What is a business continuity plan?

A business continuity plan is essentially a series of emergency procedures and rules that come into effect in case of a disaster. In the context of a business environment, disaster can be anything that impedes and disrupts the daily functioning of a mission-critical business processes. These can result from physical or manmade disasters like a fire, natural disasters like an earthquake or flooding and virtual disasters like social engineering attacks and other causes.

A detailed BCP includes thorough instructions and directions for every team involved in the business and keeps core functions of the business like communications, central management functions etc. running through backup hardware/ software setups. It includes contingencies for everything from people, assets, backups, business processes, partners, suppliers and even has protocols for information dissemination both within and outside the organization. This prevents panic and allows employees to respond correctly and maintain control over core business functions even as large parts of the work chain are rendered non-functional.

Why should you invest in a business continuity plan?

The Bureau of Labor estimates that nearly 20% of businesses experience a failure incident annually, and 80% of those businesses go under within a year. Perhaps even more sobering is the fact that despite those dire figures, Gartner estimates that only 35% of SMBs have a recovery plan in place.

Make no mistake; loss of core business data can result in irreparable damage to your business – not just in terms of revenue loss and losing the integrity of intellectual property, but also loss of trust from customers, partners and more. No amount of insurance will cover the multi-faceted and unanticipated damage that can result from disasters. Planning ahead to create a holistic business continuity plan and responding exactly according to plan is your only fool-proof way to mitigate damages.

This is easier said than done, however. With business systems increasingly operating in more dispersed and hybrid environments, getting all those pieces to respond cohesively and seamlessly in case of an emergency and developing resiliency can be a daunting challenge. In this case, you need to work closely with disaster recovery experts to identify the parts of your business that must be operational at all times and the support functions necessary to keep them running that way.

A full-fledged BCP built on those lines can help you reduce ownership costs in the long-term, protect mission-critical data and applications, minimize recovery time, and help safeguard your brand and retain customers even in the most adverse conditions.

Creating a successful business continuity plan

The ideal BCP checklist should include lists for mission-critical supplies, equipment, infrastructure, backups and backup/ storage site locations. It should identify key ‘emergency responder leads’ in every team who can perform as a POC for that function in times of duress and also include detailed instructions for employees on how to respond in specific scenarios and who they should contact for various business requirements.

Every function of your business is fair game in case of a disaster. Your BCP should plan for outages in every single business function including networks, servers, and end-point systems. Your plan should focus on quickly re-establishing communication between key functions and be able to facilitate bare bones functioning and office productivity as soon as possible. This can involve some amount of manual intervention and creativity to work around systemic limitations and challenges.

For mission-critical applications and processes, the business continuity plan should focus on isolating failure zones (if possible) and maintain high availability for these systems. Trouble comes in threes at times and your BCP should factor in disruptions happening during sensitive processes, scheduled backups and/ or planned maintenance.

Data protection is crucial to any attempt at business recovery. You should be able to reactivate your data centers in different sites if required once your primary data centers become inaccessible.

How ActiveCo can help you in disaster mitigation

ActiveCo is the first-choice destination for building Backup Plan in Vancouver. Our disaster management experts work closely with your business leaders and key personnel to craft a comprehensive plan for recovering your mission-critical processes and productivity in case of a disaster-level incident.

We can help you with crafting a business continuity plan that clearly demarcates the following:

  • Policy and purpose of the BCP
  • Recognizing the scope and limits of the BCP
  • Clearly defined objectives for each core function and the business as a whole
  • Identify key personnel and ‘first responders’
  • Provide employees and key personnel with essential contact lists and step-by-step instructions on re-establishing business normalcy and productivity after a disaster
  • Task lists for all personnel
  • Key backup information and location of backup sites
  • Task list for coordination efforts (including external agencies such as the police, regulatory authorities and media)

ActiveCo has been a trusted name in Vancouver IT Services for over 20+ years. Give us a call today for expert guidance on disaster recovery and management and start building your business contingency plan today.

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