Business continuity management is the process of identifying risks to your organization and exploring solutions. Good business continuity planning involves creating a set of priorities and first steps in response to any incident. It also requires understanding what’s feasible and achievable after an incident. This means business continuity management must be mindful of budgets, resources, and manpower that will be available after a crisis and prioritize how to use those resources most effectively.
Business Continuity Management Best Practices
Standards organizations, like the International Standards Organization, publish guidelines for creating and implementing business continuity management. While these standards provide a fairly regimented and technical guide to how to create a business continuity plan, the key facets of good business continuity management remain the same:
1. Discover and Analyze All Potential Threats
The foundation of all business continuity planning is threat identification and analysis. Your organization could be disrupted any number of ways, from data breaches to natural disasters. Great business continuity management begins by brainstorming all the possible ways your business could be disrupted.
Nothing is off the table in this phase of planning, and all threats should be included, no matter how unlikely they are. Of course, it’s impossible to guess all the potential threats your organization may face, but addressing business continuity planning from as many angles as possible means you’ll likely have a plan that can adapt to fit almost any challenge you’re thrown. Analyze each of these threats for their likelihood and severity.
2. Conduct a Thorough Business Impact Analysis
After brainstorming and detailing the possible threats your organization might face, the next step is to conduct a business impact analysis to see how it would affect your daily operations and bottom line. Key questions to ask here include:
- How might my supply chain be disrupted?
- Will this limit our access to information?
- Does this put our customers’ information at risk?
- How long would it take to establish minimum operational ability after such an incident?
- How long would it take to fully recover back to normal operations?
Be honest with your answers. A key element of a business impact analysis is reviewing the feasibility of your response. You’ll need to determine if you have the resources to respond and how long it would take you to gather those resources in a crisis.
3. Create Flexibility in Your Supply Chain and Data Structure
For companies that manufacture or distribute physical goods, creating flexibility means making sure your supply chain is responsive to global conditions. A flood in China or an earthquake in Mexico could throw your whole operation out of line. The key is identifying such weak points and creating agile supply chains that could substitute for a facility that’s shut down.
For companies in client services, the same principle applies to all your data. Make sure you have offsite backups of all your information and have a document management system in place so that an attack on one part of your network doesn’t cripple your whole organization.
Business Continuity Management, Applied
As you plan for crises and natural disasters, you’ll be better prepared to respond to incidents when they arise. With clear priorities about what parts of your organization to restore first, you’ll be backed up and running quickly and with minimal hassle.
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