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What is Business Continuity Planning?

business-continuityWe’ve all experienced downtime at work. Occasionally, it takes the form of a welcome break from the monotony and increases productivity. However, more often than not, downtime means a decreased functioning of business operations. That spells trouble for any company.

While there’s no predicting the future, you can learn to expect the unexpected. A business continuity plan gives your company a framework to follow in case of disaster. It essentially helps you get back on your feet and avoid long-term damage.

If you haven’t made a business continuity plan a part of your risk management strategy, keep reading to learn its purpose, benefits and some general guidelines.

Defining Business Continuity Planning

How much money could your business lose if its operations were suddenly disrupted? The answer is more than you might think. A USA Today survey analyzed the price of downtime for data centers. 80 percent of data center managers estimated the cost of an hour of downtime to be $50,000.

No matter which industry your business is in, the simple fact remains that productivity loss means revenue loss. This loss doesn’t even begin to factor in unforeseen costs, repairs and recovery. Even a solid insurance plan won’t necessarily pay for all of the costs and certainly can’t repair a damaged reputation.

That brings us to the concept of business continuity planning. A business continuity plan is much what it sounds like. This document plans how your business will remain in operation during the event of a disaster. Potential disasters could include natural disasters (hurricane, flood, etc.), server outages, massive data breaches and terrorism.

The plan should also identify the systems necessary to prevent, mitigate and recover from disasters or threats to the business.

Your business continuity plan might also designate a team responsible for implementing the processes as well as training and exercises for your entire organization. You should look at short-term solutions and consider more permanent risks such as infrastructure damage. Keep in mind you’ll need to plan for how you’ll deal with the people, items and data involved in each potential disaster.

Business continuity planning falls under the category of risk management. You may also hear it referred to as a business continuity action plan or continuity of operations planning.

The IT Connection

77 percent of businesses in the United States rely on IT services every day to grow and run effectively. Servers, networks, data centers, laptops, smartphones and even wearable devices can be found in the modern office of today.

As you build your business continuity plan, examine your reliance on IT services carefully. Which ones are most critical to your business’s productivity and revenue? How can you remain in operation if one or all of these services were disabled? Think through the steps you would need to continue running your business while recovery takes place.

The Advantages of a Strong Business Continuity Plan

As we mentioned earlier, a lack of productivity means a lack of revenue. All businesses need to maintain operations to stay ahead and meet the needs of customers. A disaster of any size puts your business’s future and reputation on the line.

There’s a surprising advantage to disasters. They allow you to showcase your business’s preparedness and commitment to customer satisfaction.

If you need more reasons to create a business continuity plan, keep the following advantages in mind:

  • Protection of revenue
  • Mitigation of effects from downtime
  • Reduced amount of downtime
  • Compliance
  • Maintain or improve professional reputation

Proper Planning and Guidelines

If you don’t have a business continuity plan yet, you’ve likely realized by now how essential they are to nearly every organization. To get started, examine your business operations and points of weakness. Determine the effects of short-term and long-term downtime.

While the plan will vary from business to business, there are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Begin with the identification of most important business operations and processes
  • Determine which resources are needed to keep those operations functioning
  • Identify an action plan to recover the most critical operations
  • Document the associated steps to your action plan
  • Create a team to implement your plan
  • Provide personalized training to the team and your business as a whole
  • Update business policies to reflect these changes

Your business deserves professional risk management services by the experts. When you work with Prudential Associates, you invest in the long-term health of your business and employees. Contact us today at 301.279.6700 to find out more about our business continuity planning services.