Business Continuity

Continuity is defined as uninterrupted duration or continuation. Business Continuity is when regular operation continues uninterrupted by changes such as employees leaving or, as it relates to the technology you depend on, minimal downtime in a disaster. A Business Continuity plan is a plan of action detailing how your business will not only recover from a disaster like loss of data, but how it will continue operations during a disaster like the storms that tore through the eastern United States in July causing extended power outages and damaging buildings.

Every business should have some sort of Continuity Plan in place for when disaster strikes. Backups are not enough. Ask yourself the following questions: Does your business rely on technology? How long can your business systems operate without power? How much work can be done if the Internet connection is down? If a fire destroyed your building taking all of your computers, servers, and data with it how long would it take your business to become functional again? What can be done to manage these risks to your business?

Asking the questions and answering them is only the first step. As stated before, a Business Continuity Plan is a plan of action, and action must be taken to manage these risks to your business. Regularly performing tasks like backing up your data, testing backups, adding redundancy to your systems like a backup internet connection or a generator, testing to make sure redundant systems kick in when needed are all part of what makes a successful Business Continuity Plan. I hope you are beginning to see a pattern emerge. Ask questions, put a plan into action, test the plan, and repeat.

Regular testing and review are extremely important to ensuring that the steps you have taken to protect your business are there when you need them. An annual test might consist of turning on your generator to make sure it runs or pulling the plug on your internet modem to make sure the backup takes over, allowing access to the internet. Your annual review should not only ask are the measures that are in place today working properly, but what other measures can be taken in the event of a disaster. An example might be that in your first review you realize that you don’t have any measures in place if the entire building where lost to a natural disaster. A new measure such as implementing a cloud service to allow employees to access applications and data from home or a temporary location should be put into action and become part of your annual test and review.

Disaster recovery and business continuity go hand-in-hand. Disaster recovery using backups is not enough. By implementing a solid Business Continuity plan, testing it, and reviewing it you may just be able to weather the next disaster better than your competitors and come out on top.

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