How to Build a Comprehensive Business Continuity Plan

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1 How to Build a Comprehensive Business Continuity Plan Business continuity planning is essential for any business. A business continuity plan carried out effectively will enable any business to continue functioning as normally as possible after a disaster, and continue making money.

2 What would your business do in a disaster situation, such as a major fire, flood or cyber attack resulting in data loss? How would you cope with a sudden loss of business functions? Every business is at risk from potential disasters including: Natural disasters Floods Fire Sabotage Power disruptions Communications or transportation failures Cyber attacks, hacking, data theft or loss Failing to prepare for events such as these is extremely risky. Your business should be able to continue functioning with as little disruption as possible. Unfortunately, many businesses never develop a plan, and the negative impact of disaster situations is far more widespread than it could have been. Instead of employees being able to work remotely with full access to their s, applications and data, with calls diverting to their mobiles, businesses go dark and are unreachable to customers with no explanation as to why. This state can last for days or even weeks. The impact on revenue and reputation can be huge. Businesses that have permanently lost their data in disasters rarely recover. 90% are out of business within two years. Having a business continuity plan enhances an organisation s image with its employees, shareholders and customers by demonstrating a proactive attitude. This guide will show you how to create a business continuity plan so you can put the crucial elements in place that will help your business to survive a disaster with minimal impact.

3 1. Create several Business Continuity folders Everything in this plan is going to go into a business continuity folder. This should be produced in both soft and hard copy form. The soft copy should be saved in a remotely accessible location as you need to be able to obtain it in a disaster situation so don t save the only copy on the hard drive of your office PC! Host the soft copy somewhere like SharePoint or Google Drive, and give access to all of the key personnel in your company. Make a note of where it is saved. It s a good idea to also the file to your personal address, as you can access it again easily in the future by searching in your personal s. Likewise, the hard copy should not be limited to the office. You should have one in the office so that it can be grabbed on your way out in an emergency, but also keep one at home, in your car, and distribute it to other key personnel in your business. Make it distinctive. A luminous green or neon orange ring binder is a good container. You don t want to be searching through hundreds of black and blue folders! Don t give ALL of your employees access to the business continuity plan. It will contain sensitive information that should be kept secure. A disgruntled employee could use this inappropriately. 2. Document key internal personnel Consider which job functions are critical to your business operations, and think about who takes over this function when the said people are away. Make a list of all these people with all contact information including business phone, home phone, mobile, business , personal and any other possible way of contacting them in an emergency situation. 3. Draw up your business continuity team Decide who will manage and who will play key roles in carrying out the business continuity plan in the event of a disaster. Ensure these people are aware of, and intimately familiar with the plan. Ensure there is a designated person who will notify management, employees and key external individuals. They will assume initial control of the situation, identify range and scope of damage, identify infrastructure outages and co- ordinate support from internal and external sources. Designate a person to manage communications, control rumours, maintain contact with emergency services, vendors and the media (if necessary). They will also communicate with employees, the public and anyone else affected. Designate a person to manage operations. They are in charge on ensuring that everyone can continue working in the event of a disaster. Ensure each person on the team and their responsibilities are documented in the business continuity plan.

4 4. Ensure you are not relying on any single piece of equipment You should not have any PCs or servers in your office that contain data or applications (or perform some role) that your business cannot function without. Your data should be automatically backed up to off- site locations, and you should be able to restore this data easily. Tape based back- ups are not good enough. They easily malfunction, have long restore times, and the data can t be remotely accessed and restored. Imagine a disaster where you lost all of your data. You don t want to be waiting for days for tapes help off- site to be sent back to you. Make sure you have a good cloud- based backup. A good restore time is 4 hours. Do not rely on a fire proof safe. They might be ok for paper documents, but disks will melt inside. 5. Make sure you have hosted file servers, systems and phone systems You don t want to be in a situation where no one can work remotely in a disaster because data and applications are on hard drives inside office PCs, or on a server in the office building that no- one can connect to remotely. Cloud computing and hosted solutions like Office 365 mean that your data, applications and s can be held in off- site data centres, and you can access everything regardless of where you are and what device you re using. You can also use online web versions of the applications that you can access from any device with an internet connection. Alternatively, you can install the desktop software to a set number of devices (depending on which license you have purchased). You can get a hosted phone system too, so that you can still receive phone calls from customers and partners on the usual numbers, even if your office building is destroyed. During a disaster you just instruct the company hosting your phone systems to forward the calls. 6. Ensure everyone knows how to work remotely Schedule some time to teach everyone how to log in remotely and access their data, applications and s when they are not in the office. Draw up a brief guide that explains how and add it to your business continuity folder so you can easily it to employees in a disaster. The person in charge of communications in the business continuity plan will need to relay this information to employees in a disaster situation. 7. Document external contacts If you have critical vendors or contractors, make sure you have them all listed with a description of the company, the main contact at the company, and phone numbers, addresses etc. Also include any solicitors, financial advisors, IT consultants and Utilities providers. It is likely you will need to consult these people if disaster strikes your business location.

5 8. Identify critical documents Articles of incorporation and legal papers, utility bills, banking information, HR documents, building lease papers. Make a copy of anything you might need in the event that your building facility was lost. 9. Identify backup equipment If your company relies on vans to make deliveries, what would you do if these were also damaged beyond use? You may have ticked all of the other boxes, but this is still a single point of failure if your business cannot perform this role. Identify ahead of time where you would rent replacements. You may have enabled remote working, but does everyone have the equipment at home to use it? 10. Establish a contingency location This is where you would conduct business while your main offices are unavailable. It is possible that everyone could work from home, but it might be better if you can set up office in a hotel there are many that are well equipped with business facilities. Make sure you have all the necessary contact information in your business continuity folder. 11. Communicate to your company about the business continuity plan Ensure all critical staff know about it, and have access to the hard and soft copy documents. If anyone has a role in the plan that is critical, ensure they know about it. 12. Don t leave it to chance test the plan You don t want to find out there is a point of failure in your business continuity plan when it is too late. You ll know what you need to do next time, but there might not be a next time! Have a test run where you follow the plan to the letter in order to discover any flaws. Don t let it get out of date. Update the plan annually. Key contacts will change. Companies you use will change. Your contingency location might not exist in twelve months time. You might use a different remote working solution.

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