In the event of an unexpected incident, maintaining business continuity is crucial for preventing any major service disruptions to clients. So, teams must uphold effective business continuity management (BCM) methods and stay prepared for any potential scenarios that might impact business operations.
Being well-prepared is key to successful BCM, so in this guide we present effective strategies and approaches that will enhance your team’s business continuity plans.
BCM is a strategic framework used by organizations to facilitate continuous business operations in the event of critical incidents, ranging from equipment failures to natural disasters. Ultimately, the goal of BCM is to streamline the restoration of business operations after a disruptive incident in order to minimize its impact on the business’ critical systems, reputation, and necessary functions.
Due to the unpredictable nature of these incidents, organizations must proactively develop a structured approach to BCM that guarantees comprehensive preparedness for a wide array of potential incidents.
Whether your team is structuring their first BCM plan or enhancing an existing one, it is important that they understand these key components:
BCM requires teams to exhaust all potential disruptions, to ensure a comprehensive business continuity plan that can be used in a variety of instances. So, it is crucial that teams conduct risk assessments where they identify all possible incidents and their corresponding impacts. This allows teams to prioritize risks based on likelihood and urgency, enabling them to establish business continuity plans accordingly.
When an unpredictable incident occurs, being equipped with a comprehensive business continuity plan is imperative to ensure that the restoration of business operations is streamlined. Maintaining a well-structured plan is paramount to successful BCM, as it outlines action steps for mobilized response teams.
Effective communication is a crucial step that the BCM team must consider when developing a business continuity plan. During disruptions, stakeholders, including employees, clients, and, in more severe incidents, emergency services, require swift notification to ensure their awareness and safety as response teams rectify the situation.
Training and regular drills must be incorporated into an organization’s culture, when implementing new methods for BCM. Unexpected incidents require response teams to be deployed immediately, but if they remain uninformed about BCM processes and procedures, the mobilization of team members and the restoration of operations will be delayed.
As mentioned previously, BCM necessitates the development of a comprehensive business continuity plan. These are the common components to a business continuity plan, that can help your team get started:
When an incident occurs, teams must immediately examine the incident to identify all of the potential impacts. This empowers them to proactively prioritize their response measures and promptly address critical systems and situations. BCM teams equipped with extensive risk assessments will be able to quickly identify the impacts and begin the resolution process immediately.
Appointing a designated response team ensures that, in the event of an incident, all staff members know who to turn to for assistance. The response team is responsible for effectively handling and resolving critical incidents, so that your organization’s operations are promptly restored. It is important to note that multiple response teams may be employed across different departments and are only mobilized when an incident aligns with their expertise.
Building a robust incident response plan that outlines the responsibilities and necessary actions that response teams must follow to resolve an incident and minimize its impacts is a crucial part of the business continuity plan. The incident response plan should consist of general actions that can be taken by the response team and other staff members during any incident, as well as specialized approaches that the response team should only take when necessary.
In situations that affect the ability to work in the office, like prolonged network disruptions or severe weather conditions, there must be a plan for maintaining uninterrupted business operations. Depending on the size and operations of an organization, teams have multiple options for workplace alternatives including remote work days, temporarily relocating office setups, or canceling the day for discretionary staff.
The business continuity plan must outline communication methods that will be used during major incidents. Oftentimes this includes releasing statements through the organization’s website, and utilizing an incident alert management system or mass notification platform.
Following the resolution of an incident, it is crucial that the BCM team holds a post-incident review complete with detailed documentation and reports. This ensures that teams are well-informed about the incident and its origins, so in the future, they will have a better grasp on how to handle similar incidents.
Your business continuity plan cannot be a static document, it requires continuous improvement to remain effective. Training sessions and actual incidents can be used to measure the effectiveness. It allows BCM teams to identify areas for improvement and ensures that your plan is adaptable through expansion and ever-changing organizational needs.
With all of the modern technologies available, teams can proactively prepare for unexpected challenges and enhance their business continuity plans. Some of the tools that teams can incorporate in their business continuity plan are:
Monitoring tools can be useful for detecting a wide range of incidents including cyber threats, system failures, and shifts in facility conditions. By leveraging these tools BCM teams can monitor critical facilities and technologies, allowing them to identify patterns, anticipate potential failures, and ultimately prevent an incident before it disrupts operations.
To further enhance the capabilities of monitoring tools, many incident alerting tools seamlessly integrate with these tools to deliver immediate alerts about potential incidents. With this integration, organizations can input predefined thresholds that, once surpassed, will immediately trigger an alert, ensuring that technical teams are mobilized to address those vulnerabilities before they intensify and interrupt services.
Organizations should employ modern communication and collaboration tools that will ensure that all stakeholders remain informed about incident procedures and safety precautions. One common example that can reach a wide range of recipients is mass notification systems that distribute simultaneous alerts to all of your stakeholders via SMS, email and/or phone call.
If the business continuity plan prompts staff members to work remotely during incident resolution, they must be equipped with tools that allow them to do so. This may include purchasing portable laptops rather than desktops or acquiring licenses for virtual meeting platforms, such as Zoom.
When incorporating modern technology solutions into the BCM plan, teams should consider the strategic shift to CloudOps migration. CloudOps ensures that data is regularly backed up and enables quick recovery in the case of disasters where data might typically get lost, like cyber attacks and system failures. It also ensures scalability of resources when there are sudden changes in demand, and ultimately ensures continuous service delivery.
Along with these advanced tools, there are many recommended practices that will enhance BCM. Here are some of the best practices for business continuity management that will ensure the swift restoration of services:
Conducting scheduled training sessions where the organization simulates common incidents is an excellent practice that will not only prepare your teams for disaster, but also allow you to identify vulnerabilities in the business continuity plan. During the simulation, note any setbacks, misinterpretations, or frustrations that arise and identify actionable improvements that you can make to the plan to mitigate these issues.
Creating plans for common disruptions like network failures or cyber threats is crucial, but with the possibility of unexpected disaster, your team must be prepared for more. By anticipating disaster, you can ensure that your team is capable of maintaining business operations while simultaneously navigating disaster scenarios when they arise. Some examples of these situations may be public health crises like pandemics, or natural disasters such as wildfires or tornadoes.
Monitoring tools significantly enhance an organization’s ability to prevent incidents. BCM teams can gain visibility into the health and security of critical systems and facilities allowing them to proactively identify and eradicate vulnerabilities that could have otherwise caused a disaster.
Organizations must ensure that incidents, procedures, and policies are well-documented to avoid any miscommunication and provide documentation to officials about compliance when necessary. Additionally, documentation about previous incidents improves the knowledge base, enabling the BCM team to use information from past incidents to improve their business continuity plan.
OnPage is an innovative IT alerting tool that delivers immediate alerts to relevant team members when an incident occurs to effectively mobilize teams and ensure smooth business operations. Some of OnPage’s features that enhance BCM are:
OnPage can seamlessly integrate with various monitoring tools, allowing your team to be notified when the health or security of critical systems is disrupted. For a more proactive approach, your team can also identify specific thresholds that trigger automatic alerts to your team, allowing them to rectify any vulnerabilities before they become critical incidents.
Oftentimes, technicians have to monitor their emails or text messages for notifications about critical incidents. With OnPage, team members will receive loud, distinguishable, high-priority alerts that bypass the silent switch, right to their smartphones. This ensures that all team members are immediately aware of the incident and can promptly take the appropriate action.
OnPage allows visibility into the status of alerts, enabling the sender to view when a message was Sent, Delivered, and Read. By viewing these statuses, BCM teams are able to determine the responsiveness of their team and make necessary improvements to their business continuity plans.