What is business continuity?
Business continuity is all about being prepared in the event that disaster strikes. It’s about looking critically at your business to see where you are vulnerable, considering how a loss in that area might impact your ability to do business, and putting a plan in pace to minimise the impact should something go wrong.
Why do you need a plan in place?
If your office flooded tomorrow, how would your business cope? If there was a fire in your server room, would you still have access to all your business-critical data? Would you be able to carry on functioning if a cyber-attack interrupted connectivity or brought your website down?
A business continuity plan is designed to cover every type of disaster across every business function, providing a backup plan for everything from physical office space and staffing disasters to supply chain disruption and criminal activity.
We all know that disasters can and do happen, and it’s vital that businesses have a plan in place for getting back up and running as quickly as possible in the event that a disaster impacts your business.
What should a business continuity plan cover?
A robust Business Continuity Plan (BCP) should cover every eventuality and every business-critical function, setting out a clearly defined plan for mitigation and recovery. To ensure you’ve got a BCP that covers the most important areas of your business, start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What business functions can you not afford to lose?
- What are your most important products or services?
- What are the resources or activities that underpin the delivery of key products or services?
- What are the potential risks to these critical activities?
- What’s the maximum amount of down time your business can afford?
Your answers to these questions will help determine what sort of measures you need to put in place to help you weather any disruption.
Technology and business continuity
These days, technology is entrenched in the everyday operations of even the smallest of businesses. It keeps our teams connected, supports our processes, and it ensures we’re always delivering for our customers and clients. Unfortunately, that means even the smallest of IT failures can have a massive impact.
Think about all the areas of your business that rely on tech and it becomes clear that the fallout of a loss or interruption could be both wide-ranging and catastrophic. We’re operating in a world where something as seemingly trivial as an intermittent internet connection can stop payment systems from working, bring e-commerce sites down, restrict access to critical data and disrupt important customer contacts.
Your business can be brought to its knees by things as varied as:
- A failed upgrade or software install
- Accidental deletion of critical data
- Ageing infrastructure or hardware failure
- Power outages
- No data backup
With all that in mind, it’s surprising to learn how many businesses have no plan for getting back up and running should their tech systems coming crashing down. According to recent research, 43% of small businesses have no business continuity plan in place, and no intention of implementing one.
But can businesses really afford to just cross their fingers and hope for the best?
The impact of having no business continuity plan in place
The statistics around businesses failing to prepare for disasters are sobering, to say the least. Almost 1 in 5 businesses suffer some sort of disruption every year, and many of them never recover. Statistics tell us that, following a disaster:
- 25% of businesses never reopen
- 80% of businesses that don’t recover within a month are likely to go out of business
- 75% of businesses without a Business Continuity Plan fail within three years
Even those businesses that survive a disaster find themselves suffering in other ways, with lost revenue, or reputation damaging the bottom line, regulatory penalties, increased insurance premiums and even legal repercussions affecting much more than that.
Planning for tech and IT resilience
For most businesses, planning for IT and technology resilience should form the bulk of a good BCP, covering everything from power and connectivity outages to telephony and vendor management issues. At M247, our goal is always to support you to build the strongest possible IT disaster recovery plan, so you can bounce back quickly in the event of business interruption.
Internet connectivity: Fast, reliable and resilient connectivity options that can be provided in the event of your primary connections failing.
Infrastructure, backup and cloud: Diverse solutions across private, public and hybrid services to ensure your business-critical infrastructure, data and applications are always switched on and accessible.
Communications: Cloud-based solutions including Hosted Telephony and Unified Communications to keep the lines of communication open, whatever is happening at the office.
Security: Powerful protection through Unified Threat Management, anti-DDoS, Firewalls and content filtering to protect business-critical data and ensure uptime.
Recovery: If the worst ever does happen, our DRaaS solution (Disaster Recovery as a Service) provides full system and application replication and multiple system failback to minimise business disruption. Regular testing gives you full confidence that you can recover workloads quickly.
Test, review and update your plan regularly
Those who have a business continuity plan in place often fail to test the efficacy of the measures they’ve put in place. Unless you’re regularly testing that your BCP plan works, it’s impossible to know if you’re covered for all eventualities.
It’s a good idea to do a walk-through of the plan a couple of times a year. Get key personnel and managers involved and look for any gaps in your planning. Think about any new risks that have been introduced over the past six months, any emergencies you’ve failed to anticipate or account for previously and if any critical partners, roles or equipment been added to the business.
You might even want to consider carrying out a disaster simulation to test the effectiveness of your BCP. Simulating a power outage, accidental data deletion or complete premises loss is the perfect way to ascertain, in a relatively risk-free way, what would work, what needs rethinking, and to spot any gaps that need plugging.
The support you need, 24/7
If you need help formulating or shoring up your business continuity plan, our team of experts can help. We’ll perform a full technical audit of your environment, ensuring your business continuity plan includes a bespoke suite of solutions and services to get you back up and running, quickly.
With 24/7 support, 365 days a year, we’re here to help before disaster strikes, so that if it ever does, your business is in the best possible position to weather the storm.
Find out more about M247’s Business Continuity solutions here.