Business Continuity Planning

With the ridiculous speed at which technology is developing, any organisation that doesn’t adapt to change and embrace technology will eventually fail as their competition gains efficiency and better customer engagement. Through the adoption of technology the more progressive businesses have also become more resilient in the occurrence of a disruptive event, providing they’ve managed risk appropriately.

Many organisations make the assumption that with the increasing use of technology comes a hefty cost to ensure that technology is available to staff quickly after that disruptive event, when in fact the opposite is so often achievable. Providing decision makers have given consideration to the resilience of technologies used for their organisations core functions the systems availability aspect of a business continuity plan should be a relatively easy one.

Let’s take a step back though… Business Continuity Planning isn’t just about the availability of systems in the event of a disaster. A BCP should at the very least be used to; identify and reduce risk to the business, clarify service restoration expectations with key stakeholders and define the action plan to be carried out in the event of a business disrupting event.

Taking a closer look at what should often be achieved when focusing on these points, we can see the importance of this process:

Identifying and Reducing Risks

  • Developing a BCP is an excellent opportunity to review risks to the business and put measures in place to either reduce the likelihood, impact or mitigate them completely.
  • Identifying these risks to the business is often a watershed moment with regards to budget allocation, once C-level managers realise the potential impact to the business.

Clarifying Service Restoration Expectations

  • Does anyone in your business know how long it takes to restore particular services? This is where the relevant information about business service restoration needs to be circulated to all relevant stakeholders to ensure that expectations are clear.
  • Are there any regulatory compliance requirements that need to be met? So often these requirements are assumed to be achievable by the business until that dreaded audit comes around.

Define the Action Plan

  • Although we clearly want to jump to getting systems and services available we also need to think of the simple things; who’s going to call people to let them know? Who’s responsible for diverting the phone system? Who’s actually responsible for declaring a disaster? We need to put ourselves in the moment and write down every single action that’s required so that someone can be made accountable for carrying it out.
  • Circulate this action plan to everyone that plays a part, ensure that everyone is aware that they have an important role to play.

So how do we start this whole process? The most important step is to involve key stakeholders within the business and gather all the relevant information required to satisfy the above outcomes. Some simple yet effective questions to ask your BCP team are things like:

  • What are the 3-6 core functions that the business needs to carry out to remain viable?
  • How quickly do these services need to be restored to avoid major impact to the business?
  • Are there other services that are considered to be less important and can be delayed?
  • What are the main disasters that are likely to impact the business? (This will help tailor your response plan).
  • Are there any business functions that rely on physical information (mail room/cheque processing) to complete the process?

The above will provide a great baseline to guide your priorities for service restoration and should uncover any nasty surprises that the businesses assumes you’re aware of. Work closely with your team and be transparent with expectations to ensure you don’t over commit.

Finally, be sure to review and test your BCP as often as practicable, businesses can often change rapidly and your plan should adapt as required.

This article was produced by Andrew Griffioen from PowerNet. PowerNet are a team of consultants specialising in IT solutions.

For more information about how they can help you develop a Business Continuity Plan, please visit their website: