Business continuity planning can seem intimidating, leaving you to ask, “Where do I begin?” Fortunately, business continuity planning falls neatly into five phases, each of which includes steps that, when followed, provide the foundation of any good plan. Let’s take a look at the five phases.
Phase 1: Identify the risks
The first phase is to conduct a risk assessment, identifying any potential hazards that could disrupt your business. Consider any type of risk your team can imagine, including natural threats, human threats and technical threats.
Phase 2: Analyze the risks you face
Next, you’ll perform a business impact analysis (BIA) to gauge the impact of each potential risk. For each risk, determine how severe the impact would be and how long your business could survive without those processes running. Consider what is absolutely necessary for recovery, how quickly it needs to happen, what are your minimum operating resources are and any dependencies, either internal or external.
Phase 3: Design your strategy
Now it’s time to figure out strategies to mitigate interruptions and to quickly recover from them. Consider everything you’ll need to protect your people, your assets and you’re your functions. Start by comparing your current recovery capabilities to your business requirements and how you will fill that gap.
Phase 4: Plan development and execution
Finally, it’s time to create a concise, well organized and easy-to follow document or set of documents. Consider everyone that may use the plan, and document it in a way that will be most useful when your business is suffering an interruption. Then publish the plan, socialize it and train your staff on how to use it
Phase 5: Measure your success by testing
A plan isn’t truly a plan until it has been thoroughly tested. There are a variety of tests you should perform, with each providing different information on how to improve your plan. Tests can range from a checklist test, a walk-through performed by you your team as if there were an actual event, emergency evacuation drills, and when ready, a full on recovery simulation test is a bit more complex and involves your team simulating and emergency and using the actual equipment, facilities and supplies just as in a real disaster. After each test, you can make any necessary modifications to your plan to keep it current.
Once you’ve completed testing, the cycle is complete and begins again. Periodically reassess risks, impacts and strategies, make corrections as necessary, and re-test frequently to ensure the most effective plan.