Who should be included in your business continuity planning?

July 17th, 2019
Who should be included in your business continuity planning?

A rock-solid business continuity plan can see an organization through almost any disaster, but it’s crucial not to neglect the human aspect of the plan. Many business leaders don’t look beyond the IT elements, such as backup and disaster recovery, but it’s the capability of your team to handle an unforeseen event that really counts.

With just an hour of downtime costing businesses thousands of dollars, it’s important to have a fully documented process in place for managing unexpected events like data breaches, hardware failures, service outages, and natural disasters. It all starts with building the right team and instilling a culture of accountability and business resilience.

Getting started with the right approach to leadership

Many organizations assign a business continuity manager who will be responsible for leading the planning and preparedness process as well as executing the plan during an incident. One of their biggest responsibilities is to assemble a suitable team and governance system. Most importantly, the process needs full executive buy-in and visibility across the organization.

Business continuity managers should hold regular meetings with executive management and sponsors to ensure their approach is up to date and in line with current business processes. They’ll need to work closely with the leaders of other departments to ensure every employee is prepared for any crisis.

The right approach to leadership is to focus primarily on people and processes rather than IT alone. Although technology is inevitably going to be a big part of it, it’s essential that business continuity leaders have a thorough understanding of the business challenges and priorities so they’re able to align them with the technological needs and obtain the necessary resources.

Assessing your business continuity team requirements

The purpose of a business continuity team is to take every reasonable step to ensure that critical operations can continue during and after an unforeseen event. These operations must be clearly identified and prioritized beforehand. In larger businesses, the team will often act on the advice and requirements outlined by a separate crisis management team.

Business continuity managers themselves will need an alternate team leader in case they’re not present during an incident. Larger operations may also need a coordinator to enable faster and more efficient communication between departments. In turn, each department will need to have team members of their own, as well as standby members.

It’s also important to have a dedicated recovery team who can develop, coordinate, and deliver recovery efforts, implement rollovers, and collect any necessary data and contacts. Finally, everyone delegated to your continuity plan will need to receive proper training, preferably including drills and simulations for a wide variety of scenarios.

Defining roles and responsibilities of team members and partners

Business continuity planning is a multifaceted process that requires extensive planning and assessments. The first stage involves conducting an overall assessment of the threats facing your organization, such as natural disasters, system failures, and data leaks or breaches. A business impact analysis is the next step, since it helps you determine which systems and processes must be recovered first.

Even if they’re not directly involved with business continuity, make sure that every member of staff knows their role during a crisis, whether it’s to report incidents, relocate to a secondary facility, or work from home. For this, you’ll need to have emergency communication channels so employees can quickly execute the plan should the need arise.

Given that today’s businesses typically have dozens of partners ranging from suppliers to IT service providers, it’s also essential that your plan takes into consideration their responsibilities too. You’ll want to check through the service level agreements you have with any third parties so that you’re clear on their responsibilities to maintain a minimum level of service uptime.

Fidelis helps companies around Tukwila and Renton establish long-term continuity strategies that increase their resilience and proactively protect their most valuable assets. Call us today to learn more.

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