We’ve all heard stories of businesses that have lost thousands of dollars due to a disaster. Although we hear the horror stories, most of us are guilty of thinking that it can’t happen to us. Each year, over 75 percent of companies experience an outage and only 13 percent of those outages were the result of natural disasters , meaning 87 percent of incidents are caused by something other than a natural disaster. With more than $26.5 billion in revenue lost each year from IT downtime – that is $150,000 per business – still, 56% of enterprises in North America don’t have a good disaster recovery plan.
Disasters – human or natural – cause more businesses to lose money, each and every year, and in some cases, not ever re-open. It’s alarming that 25 percent of businesses do not re-open after a major disaster.
You want to make sure that your business continuity planning approach is rock-solid and covers all aspects of your business. Check out the five common business continuity planning misses and how you can avoid these common mistakes in your disaster recovery planning.
1. Not identifying and planning for all potential threats that can affect your organization
It’s hard to plan for absolutely everything, but you will want to do your research to ensure that you are prepared for any possible threat on your business.
- Does your plan cover security threats – internal and external, as well as acts of nature, like earthquakes, floods and tornados?
- Does your plan cover storms or blackouts and the effect that a power outage can have on your business?
- Does it cover internal threats, such as employee threats to your organization and how you will respond?
If you are lucky and haven’t experienced some sort of disaster, don’t think you are in the clear – it’s important to make sure that you are prepared for anything.
2. Not understanding the organization
Business continuity planning needs to include and involve every facet of your organization. It’s important that the project manager or someone from your organization reviews the plan and integrates each part of the plan with the organization. Some common questions to ask yourself about your plan include:
- Does it assign a project leader who will be responsible for implementing the disaster recovery plan as well as a back-up?
- Does it identify a disaster recovery team and multiple points of contact to ensure that the team can be brought together as early as possible following a disaster?
- Does it clearly state the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved and how they will be cross-trained?
Good business continuity planning includes clearly stating all roles and responsibilities of everyone involved so that in the event of a disaster there is no question about who is in change and who is responsible for implementing the plan. If disaster strikes, there is no time to be questioning roles and responsibilities.
3. Not including communications in your business continuity planning process
Does your disaster recovery plan include a communication process that clearly states the process in the event that infrastructure is down? If your infrastructure goes down due to a power outage, how will you notify your employees of what to do and how will you let your customers know when they can expect you to be up and running again? Business continuity planning must include a communications component that answers the following:
- Who is the project leader and the spokesperson in the event of a crisis?
- What is the communications protocol? Who will be notified first and how will each stakeholder be notified?
- What are the steps to communicate to all external and internal stakeholders if regular communication channels are down? What are the back-up communications channels ie: text message if email is down.
Communication is key in the event of a disaster, make sure you know how you will communicate internally as well as externally, with or without your usual communications channels.
4. Failure to know which resources need to be restored first
In the event of a disaster, what resources are urgently required to ensure basic business is functional and which resources can wait? Are there some resources that aren’t urgent and that can wait a day or two without affecting your business? You need to be selective about the order in which applications and services are brought back online first. For example, you might choose to reactivate your company’s email before you restore your file servers. Ensure your plan has a restoration protocol that covers the following:
- A priority list for restoration of functions and departments. What is the most urgent infrastructure required?
- A list of essential equipment—computers, equipment, and supplies required for each phase of disaster recovery—and a plan for getting that equipment if all of your current inventory is destroyed.
- An inventory of all company assets, both digital and physical. Understanding where data resources are located ensures data recovery can be complete as soon as possible.
Identify which resources are a priority for your business, and start there first.
5. Business Continuity Planning isn’t a “one and done”
You don’t want to wait until disaster strikes to see if your plan works. Make sure that you test your disaster recovery and business continuity plan often.
- Your plan should be well-documented, readily available and tested often to ensure it is up-to-date.
- Plan regular disaster recovery meetings where the disaster recovery team reviews and revises the plan.
- Meet and review your plan at least once a year to ensure that all stakeholders and team members are still current employees.
Want to learn more about how business continuity planning can help grow your bottom line?
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