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5 things to consider for a sound business continuity plan

09/08/2022 | Dan Hebrank

Discover the importance of a business continuity plan

You have undoubtedly heard the expression, “Expect the best, prepare for the worst.” This is an underlying principle companies should live by, especially during unprecedented times.

A business continuity plan is something that could be taken for granted because it is like insurance. You obtain it, hope you never need it, but when and if you do, are thankful to have it. It can be a lifesaver, particularly when disaster strikes.

Business continuity plans are nothing new. However, most are written for circumstances like a power outage resulting from extreme weather, human error, or a ransomware attack that holds a company hostage until a hacker’s fee is paid.

The Global Board Risk Survey by Ernst & Young found just 21% of board member respondents believed their companies were “very prepared” to respond — from a planning, communications, recovery and resilience standpoint — to an adverse risk event before COVID-19. Clearly, there is room for improvement.

If you are an IT solution and service provider looking to update your own business continuity plan or create and implement one for the first time — or help your customers do the same — here are five things to consider.

1. Conduct an assessment

A business impact assessment is a tool used to evaluate the effect of unexpected events on a business’ core operations. Using a business impact analysis, the assessment creates a report enabling decision makers to better understand how their company could be adversely affected by an event.

For instance, what are current operational risks and how could those potential risks harm business? What workaround plans are in place? What processes and technologies are needed to let employees work remotely successfully? A business impact assessment provides the bones of a solid business continuity plan.

2. Designate a team

Without a team in place, planning for and enacting a business continuity plan could easily go to the back burner. It is critical to build a team, define clear roles and responsibilities and give them authority to make decisions.

An incident manager, for example, could ensure activation of the plan occurs seamlessly, should an event strike. Make sure this leader has a team that will play critical roles and provide guidance during a disaster — preferably one person from each area of the organization, depending on size.

3. Enhance infrastructure for large-scale remote work

Starting in March 2020, companies were challenged with keeping their data and systems secure as more people than ever worked remote, forcing expansion of the edge. Without a doubt, the pandemic accelerated edge computing, which hit an inflection point in 2021.

Whether IT solution and service providers like you help your customer with edge computing or not, it is crucial to ensure you (and they) have security measures in place to facilitate continued hybrid work scenarios.

4. Communication is key

Critical to keeping your brand intact is communication during uncertain times. Continuity planning includes identifying key audiences like employees, customers, vendors and stakeholders and letting them know how you plan to handle a situation.

Consider the channels through which you will communicate — email, SMS, social media, live chat and more. Remember to focus on the humans involved, since they could be worried or confused after an incident, instead of just the products and services you provide.  

5. Ensure business goes on

If you lose the ability to sell IT products or services to your customers, they could go elsewhere. But that is not likely to happen with a business continuity plan in place. Therefore, it is imperative to have things such as more than one server should one stop functioning. Redundancy allows your business to continue.

Better safe than sorry

According to the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% of small businesses that undergo disaster never reopen, while another 25% that do reopen fail within a year. A well thought out business continuity plan can prevent this from happening by allowing a company to survive through hardships that come alongside natural disasters, pandemics or other tough times.

Large-scale global business disruption came into focus last year. While we hope something of this magnitude will not repeat itself, it is much better to be safe and plan for the unforeseen than to be sorry.

Perhaps you lack the resources to create a sound business continuity plan or simply need help updating an existing one. If so, Arrow can help. Our partner specialists can quickly identify gaps in a plan and find solutions to ensure it is solid enough to withstand disruption and minimize potential damage brought on by an unexpected event.

Once you have developed and tested your own plan, consider taking the framework and building a service offering to help your customers manage business continuity. And as always, Arrow can help you stand up this solution.

Contact us to learn more about how Arrow can help with you and your customers’ business continuity plans.

This article was originally published in August 2021 and has been updated for relevancy.