Continuity planning used be something only companies in highly regulated industries were required to do, but today it's considered a standard for all businesses, regardless of size or reach. It answers the question, "What if…?" and can easily spell the difference between the continued operation or permanent shut down of your organization should an interruption or disaster occur. With an investment in time, technology, tools and training, your organization will be better equipped to successfully safeguard lives, assets, revenue and value. Below, are five strategies to get your business continuity planning off to the right start in 2016:
1. Secure records and computer backups offsite
Vital company information (electronic and hard forms) should be copied and stored in an offsite location in the case of a natural disaster, data breach or other unforeseen catastrophic event. Ensuring that pertinent financial and company records are kept outside your place of business will provide an added safeguard in case the absolute worst case scenario happens. It's better to be safe than sorry to avoid complete decimation.
2. Implement automated notification
An automated notification system will give you a way to send important messages to employees and other stakeholders to alert them of a pending situation and provide direction for their safety. A good system will allow you to notify just those individuals on a particular floor, office or region, and to customize your messages for each audience. Such a system can be used in non-crisis times to keep staff informed and aware no matter where they are.
3. Identify important business functions
Research and identify the most important business objectives to your organization. Once you've determined the key features, you can help mold your procedures and protocol around them. This can also help leverage increased support from upper management. Budget restraints are one of the biggest hurdles business continuity plans and IT managers face in order to develop a successful plan. Showing your executives that they need to protect their valuable assets will show them you did your homework and can successfully improve the project.
4. Review, assess and update your plan
Businesses rarely stay constant. There are typically ongoing changes technologically, logistically and operationally. Business Continuity plans need to stay fresh and current, with new company protocols and developments. It's important to update and assess what your plan looks like at least once a year. This will let you alter, remove or improve different elements of your strategy to sync with the business' latest developments.
5. Establish training and testing policies
Practice makes perfect, and it's critical to run occasional drills to make sure your plan and employees are prepared for the real thing. Testing out your plan will also give you a great assessment of what things work well and what aspects need improvement or revision. Without practice, you won't be able to master the steps required when a real situation occurs, and chances are, you won't perform as well as you could have.