It takes a lot of time and effort to build a company from the ground up, but sometimes all it takes is one unfortunate event for everything to fall apart. As every business professional knows, in this day and age of a rise in cyberattacks and other incidents that might disrupt your company’s smooth functioning, it is beyond essential to have a plan for when everything was wrong. In business jargon, this is called a business continuity plan, as it is focused on ensuring that your enterprise will continue (or resume as quickly as possible) business as usual, and here are the top 5 tips for drawing up one.
1. Understand your Business
Often, compliance professionals focus so much of their energy towards making sure that they got every trick in the playbook covered that they final plan seems rigid and not tailored enough. It will never be possible to prepare for every potential scenario, so start off by understanding what your priorities are: think about your business, what it is about and what elements are most crucial for you. Then identify the processes and systems that are necessary for those elements and build up from there. You might be surprised to find out that safeguarding client data is more important in the long run than that new expensive project management software.
2. Plan for Mundane Disasters, Too
It is very easy to focus on elaborate hacker attacks, hurricanes or cyber-warfare and forget about dealing with less impressive but equally catastrophic scenarios. What happens when there is a power outage due to planned works? What about that software upgrade that went wrong? These day-to-day matters are among those that you will be dealing frequently with and you need to put thought into them beforehand – otherwise, they might just prove as devastating as a full throttle cyber-attack.
3. Calculate the Costs
In business, budget is everything – but how do you know how many funds to assign to every element of business continuity? If you already know your business priorities and the spectrum of risks out there, the next thing is to calculate the financial impact. For every hour that your company is out of service during an incident, you stand to lose between 50,000 and 5 million, according to size. To make matters worse, 60% of enterprises that lose their data in a disaster go out of business within six months – and 25% to 45% of them never reopen. While 36% of companies reportedly want an incident strategy but cannot afford it, calculating your costs will make you realize how much and on what you are willing to spend.
4. Be IT Prepared and Proactive
Whatever the outcome of your calculations, one factor is certainly a top priority: your IT operations must be protected. From hardware to software, IT is at the heart of a modern business and the best defense when disaster strikes. Make sure you take a proactive approach, as it is best to prevent than mitigate the impact, and ensure that your system’s fault tolerance – its ability to continue undisrupted operation even when one or more of its components fail – is adequate and meets your needs. Fault tolerance relies on the concept of backup and redundancy, as fault-tolerant systems employ redundant components so if one system fails, the other system is still running, ensuring no loss of service – so learn from this approach and make sure that you use backup systems to ensure no loss of service.
5. Train your Employees
Last but not least, the importance of having adequately trained employees cannot be stressed enough. Do not think that your company is too small to be a target, either: 95% of IT providers report ransomware as a security concern for small companies, while 90% say that small businesses had recently been targeted by ransomware and 48% identified phishing as the leading source of such attacks. Interestingly, 36% of those professionals state that inadequate cybersecurity awareness and training among employees was mainly to blame – so make sure that your staff is up to speed with best practices.
Coming up with a business continuity plan might seem daunting at first – yet investing the time and effort seems unavoidable, in order to prevent much more pain and financial costs down the road.