How to Prepare for Disasters: A 5 Step Guide to Business Continuity Planning

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Disasters happen, and when they do, companies learn quite a lot about their survival abilities. Those companies that have been expecting the day will already have a plan in place to ensure operations continue. There are those that, sadly, will attempt to wing their way through the crisis.

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Successfully winging it rarely happens, because disasters put significant strain on every aspect of the company.

To secure operations in crisis, you should have a plan - a business continuity plan.

This plan details how your company will continue operations during critical times, such as severe weather fallouts or cyber-attacks.

And every good business continuity plan starts with some good old-fashioned risk assessment.

Are all your critical systems safe?

Can any of your critical systems crash completely?

If an electric outage or lousy storm can cause downtime, you’ll be in quite a bit of trouble. Some risks are easy to understand and straightforward enough to solve.

If your facilities are in areas that face severe weather, it will pay to have a backup plan ready.

Consider some disasters that can hurt your business:

  • Weather-related events like hurricanes.
  • Security issues like hacking and ransomware.
  • Liability from business mistakes.
  • Attacks and corporate espionage.

The list of possible threats can go on indefinitely; there are many inherent risks facing companies.

Don’t take chances with business continuity.

Here are five steps that will help you put a plan in place:

1. Know the risks facing your business

Business continuity planning should always start with an assessment of the threats facing your company.

The list can include any catastrophic event that would threaten operations, no matter how unlikely it might seem when it comes to your business.

Consider how quickly a cybersecurity breach can damage a company. Take lessons from the recent Marriott case - the breach was ongoing for over 3 years!

Look at what happens when a natural disaster strikes.

Is there a likelihood that a specific adverse event will occur?

Those risks are real, and it’s crucial to plan against their ultimate arrival.

Companies that understand the risks are the ones that are best equipped to fight back.

Never leave it up to chance because one day, lack of action could cause a real problem.

A fire or malware can render any organization helpless at any time. Without a continuity plan in place, it might be just enough to wipe them out without a chance to bounce back.

2. Have an alternate plan for survival

You can tell a good company from the bad one by how they plan for disasters -

it’s not a matter of if it will ever happen, but when.

It will happen sooner or later.

Smart business owners will prepare for it.

Without a detailed plan, it’s nearly impossible to get up and running on an alternative track. With one in place, continuity becomes a matter of following the strategy.

This can include working remotely, working off-site for a while, or knowing when it’s time to close some operations.

Even the most common annoyances should include an alternative.

In case the internet is down, do you have a backup ISP or LTE capabilities to cover you?

Install a recovery plan at once.

Even if it’s not comprehensive or perfect, get the basics running.

There’s no time to plan after disaster strikes.

3. Have all your emergency communications ready

When something goes wrong, you must communicate with all the essential stakeholders of the company.

You need to have a list with their contact numbers, including cell phone numbers so you can get in touch immediately.

They should also know who to contact or report to in case of emergency and whether they should call first or wait for a call.

4. Know which products and services are essential

Coming back from an adverse event will require focusing on the core products and services that make the company successful.

Do a business impact analysis. Start a systematic process that tests the potential impact of all interruptions to your company’s most critical business operations.

Determine the effect a failure of these services due to an emergency or accident would have. Don’t leave out any details and calculate all costs.

Some of your teams may have to cut back efforts in R&D areas. It may even be necessary to curtail new projects until the essential services are stable.

5. Don’t wait until disaster strikes to test the plan

You can’t test a disaster plan for the first time the day it happens.

Preparedness must include regular testing before you have to see the plan in real action.

It’s basically the same concept as fire drills. Going through scenarios and determining how things will work out is a big part of being ready.

It’s not easy to keep your head about you during a crisis. Training is how all emergency workers develop the ability to cope.

It may be worth leveraging the expertise of outside firms to help develop and stress test your plan.

Would you be able to quickly deal with a massive ransomware attack like the one that happened to the city of Atlanta?

Attackers go after companies and organizations because they’re not prepared. That’s why they’re able to wreak so much damage.

Be ready for anything

Every day, businesses that don’t plan for catastrophes pay the price. It’s not pleasant to think about the business going under, but it’s necessary to acknowledge it can happen.

If you’re planning on avoiding such a fate, you’ll begin the path to creating a business continuity plan now.

Not only will it help everyone in the company sleep better at night, but it will also the company is safer and at lower risk, which will result in better profits.
Get a business continuity plan now. Waste no more time.

Start from scratch with a template or hire an external advisor.

Disasters will never be a welcome thing, but at least your company will stand a fighting chance to recover.

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