Business Continuity Plan

June 22, 2012

You have probably heard the term, Disaster Recovery. A Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is a plan for how you will recover if your business encounters some sort of disastrous event. In recent years, the term Disaster Recovery Plan has been replaced with the term Business Continuity Plan. This not just a plan for how your business will recover from a disaster, it’s more that than. It’s also a plan for how you can continue to conduct business in the wake of a disaster.

A disaster can be anything from a Fire, flood (natural or from busted pipes), burglary, earthquake, epidemic, hardware failure, software failure, power failure, internet outage, tornado/hurricane/cyclone, phone outage, security breach, employee error, damage by disgruntled employee, and many more. This list may contain some items you hadn’t thought about before.

A disaster like one of the ones listed above is hard enough to deal with on its own. If you have a BCP you don’t have to figure out how your business will continue. You know because the BCP tells you how. All you have to do is implement the appropriate portion of your BCP. Your business may not operate as effectively and efficiently as before, but at least it can operate thereby lessening the impact of the disaster on your business.

A BCP should be implemented by all business including home businesses and those who work from home. A BCP should list the possible disasters that could happen and then have procedures, forms, hardware, software, etc. all listed and ready to go for when a disaster strikes. A BCP doesn’t need to include scenarios that are very unlikely or not possible. Only those scenarios that could happen.

As an example, one scenario might be that a phone service is lost. Perhaps a construction crew accidentally cut the cable to your building. Why you lost phone service is not important. The important thing is how you are going to continue to conduct business. For this situation, your BCP might tell you to purchase (ahead of time) two magic jacks. Then when you lose phone service, you plug in the magic jacks. You forward your current phone line to one of the magic jacks and use that for incoming calls only and use the other magic jack for outgoing calls. Of course, this all assumes that your internet service is working. Another option might be to go out and purchase a few disposable cell phones and use those instead of the Magic Jacks.

A plan outlined for a particular scenario in a BCP may simply describe procedures to follows. It may outline paper forms to use as well. If it does, those forms should already be printed out and ready to go BEFORE the scenario happens.

Each business will have a different set of scenarios that makes sense for that business. One thing that every business should be doing is backing up. Backing up to an external hard drive is a popular and good way to back up. But if your building burns down and both your server and the backup is destroyed, the backup doesn’t help much. That’s why it’s very important to have an offsite backup of some sort in addition to onsite backups.

Your BCP should be something that is cost effective to implement. It would not be cost effective to have another building rented and ready to go stocked with computers and an exact copy of your server. While that type of preparedness would be great so all you and your employees have to do is go to the new building and everything is ready to go for you to conduct business. The problem is that would be too expensive to maintain. A BCP outlines how you can still operate your business in the wake of a disaster, but it should be viewed a temporary solution to be used until normal operations are restored.

A BCP should only include major scenarios that have a large impact on business. Lesser scenarios don’t need to be included. Let’s take the example of a dentist office with four exam rooms. Let’s say the computer in one exam room crashes. Losing one of four exam rooms is an inconvenience, but it’s not a disaster. In that case, the dentist would call Cyber Tek Computer Pros to fix the computer. In the meantime, the dentist would have to reschedule some patients.

If your business works closely with third-party suppliers, then you should work together with them to work out a plan for how you will work together through a disastrous scenario. It’s in your best interest to ensure that your suppliers have BCP’s for their business as well so that if they suffer a major outage of some sort you can lessen the impact it has on your business.

Another important point about BCP’s is that once you set them up, you need to periodically review and update it so that it reflects the changing needs of your business. It’s a good idea to test paper forms and procedures to make sure they actually work.

The bottom line is that we urge all businesses, home businesses, and people who work from home to create a BCP so that they are prepared for these types of situations. Cyber Tek Computer Pros can help with the creation of your BCP.

 

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