Saturday, July 17, 2010

The IMPORTANCE of BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLANNING


As this is a world that moves so fast with the business pace... So many questions and answers are to be considered.:

What is business continuity planning? BCP, as it's often called, and its close cousin, disaster recovery, is the kind of thing you hope you never need to use. But when you need it, you really need it.

Here's one way of looking at business continuity planning. You're the owner or director of a business, and everything's ticking along nicely. Turnover is steadily increasing, all (or most) clients are happily praising you to the skies, and all your crucial information assets are safely parked on a server somewhere in the depths of the IT department.

Then disaster strikes! It could be a serious fire, a prolonged power cut, pandemic flu picking off all your employees, or just the traditional massive loss of data after a hard disk crash. (And you did back it up, didn't you?)

Suddenly your business is in trouble!

One of the managers shows commendable initiative and tracks down the BCP, somewhere at the back of the stationery cupboard. Together all the employees who've managed to make it into work that morning gather around the plan, and blow dust and dead flies off it. With trembling hands the manager opens it to reveal... a page of ten-year-old telephone numbers.

Now what?

This is where you need to have invested in business continuity consulting long before BCP became an issue. Together with a disaster recovery plan for getting your ICT systems up and running as fast as possible, a business continuity plan will specify all the steps needed to get a minimum level of business functionality off the ground, as soon as possible after an adverse event. Specialist consultants will help to put a plan together that is specific to your business, and as detailed as you need it to be.

But it's not enough just to have a plan (hopefully not sitting at the back of the stationery cupboard!). The business continuity plan must also be regularly tested and updated, so that all employees are familiar with their duties, and all details are in line with the current situation. This means regular review to update contact details, building layout, etc. It also means occasional live tests, when a disaster is simulated and employees practice their roles. Quite often an apparently flawless business continuity plan will prove to be seriously defective when tested!

Part of your business continuity planning will be the safeguarding of your information assets. Your business would probably be completely unable to function without its vital information assets. This is where specialist information security consultants can help. But it's very important that the plan is fully "owned" by your business, and regularly tested and updated. Without the full engagement of all employees, even the best disaster recovery or business continuity plan will be no more than an expensive shelf lining.

Gold