Thought Leadership

Pandemic Drives Home the Critical Importance of Business Continuity Planning

Business continuity (August 2020) When he once was asked about an opponent’s strategy for an upcoming fight, heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson famously replied: “Everybody has a plan until they get hit.” That’s also true of business continuity plans — there is nothing like an actual crisis to expose their weaknesses.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a staggering blow for many organizations. In one recent global study, more than half of the companies surveyed admitted that inadequate pandemic planning left them unprepared for a rapid shift to remote work, widespread supply chain disruptions, and surging numbers of cyberattacks. Many had to deal with these disruptions on the fly, cobbling together solutions that would allow them to remain operational.

In many cases, problems arise because organizations conflate business continuity (BC) with disaster recovery (DR). DR plans typically focus on the recovery of technology assets, such as systems, networks, applications, and data, after a downtime event.

However, many organizations never move beyond the DR process, leaving them with plans that are almost entirely focused on protecting data. That’s not enough to keep a business going in the event of a catastrophe such as a pandemic.

Strategic Viewpoint

BC planning occurs on a much more strategic level and includes the DR plan as one component, but also establishes how a company will keep functioning until its normal operations are restored after a disruptive event. In addition to IT, the BC plan should cover facilities management, personnel policies, intellectual property, internal communications, and more.

The first step is to document all business functions and their critical dependencies. Next comes a business impact analysis (BIA), which determines the potential risk to the business if a particular function were disrupted. This allows you to determine how much downtime the business can tolerate for each function so you can prioritize those activities that are mission-critical to your operations.

The pandemic has taught us that any BC plan should include provisions for remote work and collaboration. Employees may not be able to come into the office due to damaged facilities, restricted travel, or the potential spread of disease. Of course, human safety should always be the No. 1 priority in any BC plan.

Expert Guidance

At a time when most companies are already dealing with a variety of day-to-day challenges, many simply don’t have the time or resources to devote to BC planning. For such companies, a managed services provider (MSP) such as Mainstream Technologies can be a valuable ally.

We begin by helping you assess your current policies and practices to identify business needs and constraints, potential risks, and threats, as well as any single points of failure. Armed with that information, we can assist in developing a BC plan that addresses all manner of potential business disruptions.

Regular testing of the DR plan is included as a benefit of working with Mainstream. All too often, a business will create a BC plan but fail to test or update it for months or years. Significant changes to the business during that span will create unexpected risks. Mainstream can conduct regular reviews with key stakeholders and assist in revising the plan as needed to address any changes to your operational or technology processes.

There is no boilerplate template for creating the perfect plan. All companies are going to have unique requirements. Mainstream can help you develop a comprehensive plan that can help your business avoid a potential knockout.

Jeff Pracht
IT Business Development Manager
(479) 715-8629 Office
(501) 529-0008 Mobile

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