The present-day business environment is subject to many threats that can cause downtime. Malware attacks, power interruptions, IT disasters and network downtime have a massive impact on the operations of any business.
Having a business continuity plan, however, helps minimize downtime and keep operations running smoothly, even when issues do occur.
Business continuity is a proactive approach to maintaining a maximum operational capacity in case of a disaster or outage. It’s a collection of strategies to increase organizational uptime, maximize resource availability, and above all, lower costs that come with IT downtime.
Why is a Business Continuity Plan Important in Your Business?
Network downtime mounts heavy losses on businesses, as well as negatively impacts your reputation. According to Carbonite, small-sized businesses lose up to $427 per minute, while big companies may lose up to an average of $9,000 per minute due to downtime.
By developing a business continuity plan, you can mitigate the effects and costs of downtime and ensure your business is prepared to continue functioning, even if an issue interrupts operations. Here are some of the primary benefits of establishing a business continuity plan.
A Business Continuity Plan Gives You a Competitive Advantage
With a continuity plan, your business is well-positioned to withstand damaging IT disasters and ameliorate the associated impact. You put yourself in a better position than your competitors by ensuring your systems and staff are prepared to quickly report, address and work through disasters that affect your infrastructure.
It Protects Your Customers
The customers are the anchor of your business, and protecting them is one of the wisest ways to keep your business growing. The rule of the thumb is to ensure that customers do not suffer from your business inefficiencies. This means it’s critical to ensure that they receive all anticipated services without any delay.
Besides providing services, you have to keep customer data safe and free from malicious use. The contingency plan helps counter any situation that might expose your customer data should your business face any threat.
Businesses who can respond immediately and appropriately in the case of a disaster will naturally gain more customer loyalty than those who don’t. By demonstrating quick responses to IT outages, you show that you are ready to protect your customers’ data and keep your workplace secure, no matter what happens.
Quick Recovery from Malware and Virus Attacks
Malware attacks are prevalent in competitive business environments. Often, these attacks tend to be severe, and businesses with no contingency plans suffer heavy losses. In fact, 60% of small businesses fold within just 6 months of a cyberattack. Malware attacks have led to the loss of millions and left behind crippled companies.
With a business continuity plan in place, you can be prepared with data backups and other procedures that keep valuable information from being compromised. This plan helps recover data or any lost information that might hamper business operations.
How Can You Build a Business Continuity Plan?
Building a business continuity plan includes assessing your current infrastructure and establishing and testing reaction plans to ensure your plan is effective. To ensure all departments and aspects of your infrastructure are addressed in the plan, several businesses choose to involve an IT consultant to assist them in developing this plan.
These are the key components that make up a business continuity plan:
You should ensure you have a thorough understanding of all critical processes in your business and how your technology is being used across all departments. This involves performing a risk assessment to identify weak areas in your infrastructure so you can properly address them.
With a clear understanding of the risks that face your business and how prepared you are for them, you can effectively develop a strategy for better defending against them.
A recovery strategy ensures you can recover critical business processes and data in the event of a disaster. In the recovery plan, your document must include workarounds that will keep your functions operational and your data accessible until all systems, personnel and facilities are again available.
Your documentation also should include strategies to restore your IT systems and applications as quickly as possible. Each department should have their own response procedures in place so every staff member understands their part in getting your systems up and running again.
This clause refers to the specific methods that you will employ to respond to cyber attacks. A proper continuity plan identifies and plans for the following:
- How to ensure customers can access products and services
- How to streamline communication between vendors and customers
- The timing required to restore business processes
- Workaround processes in case technology is unavailable
- Teams responsible for managing emergency events
With a business continuity plan that addresses the above, your business can minimize network downtime and reinforce customer loyalty and trust.
Testing Your Business Continuity Plan
In order for your continuity plan to be effective, you should test it regularly. Testing can enlighten which areas of your plan are well-designed and which aspects need to be modified or updated.
The best way to test your continuity plan is by walk-throughs and disaster simulations. Testing helps each team member understand and practice what to do in situations that arise unexpectedly. The testing process should correct any shortcomings in the documentation process and thereby improve your continuity plan over time.
Establishing a business continuity plan is a wise practice for businesses across all industries. Downtime and other damages caused by unforeseen IT disasters can be extremely costly, but by preparing your business for these outages, you can mitigate those costs and maintain a competitive business edge.