How to Create an Effective Business Continuity Plan: A Step-By-Step Approach

Use These Steps to Create an Effective Business Continuity Plan

The motto “Be Prepared” may have been developed by the Boy Scouts but it is just as applicable to today’s business world.

As we all have seen over the last few months of the pandemic, business disruption can come out of the blue and completely change how operations are handled.

The businesses that have systems in place to address a number of different disruptive events fare much better than those that do not plan ahead. These systems can drastically reduce downtime and are agile enough to adjust operations.

Being prepared in business terms means having a business continuity plan in place. You may even earn the equivalent of a merit badge along the way.

Business continuity planning gives you a guidebook to follow in the event of any number of situations that disrupt your business operations. It will include things like putting remote connections in place if employees need to work remotely and letting your staff know what to do in the event of a data breach.

39% of small and medium-sized businesses do not have any incident response plan in place to deal with a cyberattack

About two out of five SMBs lack a game plan in the case of an online attack or data breach, yet 63% of them report experiencing a data breach within the last 12 months.

If you have not yet had a chance to put a business continuity plan together or if yours might need some work, here are some simple steps to ensure your Connecticut company is prepared for anything.

How To: Business Continuity Planning

Think of the work to put together an effective business continuity plan as creating a safety net for your company. It will pay you back over and over again whenever a potential crisis arises.

Having an incident response team in place can reduce the cost of a data breach by an average of $360,000

Here are the steps to take to get your preparedness plan together.

Step 1: Identify Areas of Risk

The first step of business continuity planning involves playing “worst-case scenario” and envisioning all the things that could harm your business operations. 

Some of the events you will want to include are:

  • Data breaches of sensitive customer information
  • Ransomware attack
  • Malware/virus infection
  • Pandemic (many didn’t have this on their list until recently)
  • Natural disaster (tornado, flood, etc.)
  • Extended power or internet outage
  • Server or computer drive crash
  • Vendor or employee sabotage 
  • Man Made disasters (fire, etc.)

Think of any ways that your business could be negatively impacted so you can come up with a way to counter it.

Step 2: Review Your Current Technology Environment

Next, you will want to see what tools you have in place that can be used to mitigate the risk or keep your business operational in the event of a disaster.

For example, when it comes to a data breach you want to both plan to mitigate the risk of one happening AND have a plan should one happen.

Divide your plan into mitigate and respond. Evaluate what tools you have to help you and what may be missing.

For example, in the case of another pandemic or a natural disaster, do you have a VoIP phone system in place so you can still stay connected to your customers?

Decide what applications, procedures and tools you need in place to help mitigate and respond to the business disruptions you identified.

Step 3: Source Technology Tools That are Needed

If you find that you need a better backup and recovery system because the one you are using is onsite only, now is the time to put that into place.

After your review of the current tools you have to support your business continuity needs, identify what technology tools are missing and put those into place.

Step 4: Come Up with Response Plans

Next you will be coming up with your response plans for each worst-case scenario. Many of them may have similar steps. For example, if your team has to leave your office due to a pandemic, the steps you take to keep operations going will be similar to those you would take if your building was harmed in a fire.

Your response plans should be detailed and include easy step-by-step instructions for your team to follow.

Be sure to include details like:

  • Where is the plan located? (Make sure it is not only in digital format.)
  • Who is responsible for each item in the plan?
  • How is everyone to coordinate? (Be sure to have both online and offline options.)
  • When is a plan put into action?
  • When do operations go back to normal?

Step 5: Train and Drill Employees on Your Business Continuity Plan

Training your employees on the steps in your business continuity plan for various catastrophes is important. In the event of a real disaster, if they haven’t been through the plan before, there is a much bigger risk that something will go wrong.

Incorporate regular drills on different scenarios so that any kinks can be worked out in the plan and things have a much better chance of going smoothly when a real incident occurs.

Step 6: Keep Your Plan Updated

If you have a former employee showing as the main response coordinator in the case of a data breach, then your business continuity plan is not going to be much help when a ransomware attack happens.

Make sure you are updating your business continuity plan regularly and adjusting for staff changes and new potential disruption events.  

Get Help Crafting a Strong Business Continuity Plan 

Sound Computers can help your company review your risk and help you craft a business continuity plan that will both prevent disasters and help you remain resilient even if the worst-case scenario happens.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Call 860-577-8060 or reach us online.

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