All businesses encounter disruption, whether it be from floods, fires, pandemics or cyber attacks. A business continuity plan (BCP) is about preparing for these threats before they turn into very real incidents, and limiting the damage caused to IT systems and operational efficiency. But a survey by the Chartered Management Institute found that whilst 73% of managers cited business continuity management as highly important, only 48% of businesses had a dedicated BCP in place.
Three Cherries supports the IT infrastructure and telephony systems of a range of SMEs and educational organisations. Our encyclopaedic knowledge of everything tech means we ensure our clients are always protected against the unknown and experience minimal downtime.
In this blog, our experts explain everything you need to know about business continuity planning.
What Is a Business Continuity Plan?
A BCP is a proactive strategy that helps an organisation avoid and mitigate risks before, during and after a critical incident. This incident can be any unforeseen event with a significant negative impact on business operations, such as natural disasters, pandemics, theft and cyber scams. A BCP will outline a range of different scenarios that could disrupt business operations and the disaster recovery steps the business needs to take to effectively respond and restore activities as quickly as possible.
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What is a Business Impact Analysis?
A business impact analysis (BIA) is a crucial stage in the creation of a BCP. Essentially, it is an audit of the organisation, including its IT system, to identify how critical functions may be disrupted by disaster. It will consider different timescales and incident intensities to gauge the damage a range of situations may cause to IT infrastructure, products, services and the processes that support them. This information helps businesses quantify their recovery requirements and begin the process of formulating the BCP.
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What Is Business Continuity Management?
Business continuity management (BCM) is a field of risk management that uses the BCP to identify risks, mitigate disruption and minimise data loss when incidents occur. Effective BCM can be visualised as a cycle.
- Preparation – the BCP is created, training is provided or external support is sourced.
- Response – a disaster strikes, and the emergency plan is immediately put into action.
- Restoration – the steps necessary to restore essential business operations are taken.
- Recovery – incident over, all systems are repaired to pre-emergency levels.
- Resolution – the BCP is updated in line with the lessons learned from this event.
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Why Create a Business Continuity Plan?
Most importantly, a BCP equals faster recovery from disaster. The benefits of this cannot be overstated. Not only will your business face a vastly reduced risk of disruption, but you will be able to grow with confidence without worrying about risks also growing exponentially. With the right plan and the right review and testing procedures in place, you can feel confident that your business is ready for anything.
When customers and shareholders choose a business to work with, they want to know that their data is secure. Cyber attacks pose a significant risk to your brand image and can result in irreparable damage to your reputation.
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If you don’t have a plan in place, you increase the risk of data breaches and other disasters causing significant downtime. And, from lost revenue to the financial outlay required to put things right, downtime costs money. Government research estimates the cost of cyber security attacks on small businesses to be £8,460, with this figure rising to £13,400 for medium and large firms.
A BCP will give your employees greater confidence, because they will know exactly what they need to do in a range of different disaster scenarios including cyber attacks. When an incident does occur, this means there will be reduced panic amongst your staff; instead, the plan will be executed, and functions efficiently restored.
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Preparing for disaster isn’t just about you. Ensuring you comply with the relevant data protection regulations is essential whatever the scale of your business or the sector you work in – and a BCP provides the security necessary to achieve and sustain this.
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How to Create a Business Continuity Plan
The first stage is all about auditing your business to work out the priorities of your BCP. Use the BIA to identify functions that are vital to your business and time-sensitive, as you should focus on restoring these in the event of a disaster. The BIA should also be used to identify potential risks to your organisation. Once you know this information, you will be ready to move on to the next stage.
Based on the BIA, establish what steps will need to be taken in various scenarios to bring back important business functions and minimise downtime.
Make sure all your employees understand the steps and know what to do in different disruptive situations. Part of this stage might include seeking out reliable IT support if you don’t have an in-house team.
It’s not enough to create a plan and say job done. Keep the BCP up to date by conducting regular tests and reviews of the strategy and making any amendments necessary as your organisation grows and changes.
Critical IT Support for Your Business
Three Cherries is an IT support & telephony business based in Bristol with over 20 years’ experience helping businesses recover from disaster. Combining technical expertise with our jargon busting communication, we can ensure organisational downtime is limited and support for IT infrastructure’s security.
Get in touch with our team to find out more about how we can help!
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