Extreme weather, power outages, fires, hardware failures and other disasters can instantly bring any business to a screeching halt — resulting in significant financial losses while also jeopardizing critical customer relationships. Business leaders who fail to address the risks of such business interruptions are skating on thin ice.
Fortunately, specific steps can be taken to minimize these risks. By ensuring the resiliency of information technology that supports the business, companies can keep serving customers and generating revenue even when disaster strikes. A smart business continuity plan is the best kind of insurance because it actually prevents losses, instead of partially compensating for them after they occur.
Because small businesses have limited resources, they must be selective in how they allocate resources for business continuity. Also, every business is different. So a methodical process is required to formulate a business continuity plan that best meets a company’s specific needs, while keeping costs to a minimum.
Step 1: Identify and financially quantify specific business operations.
Every business can be broken into separate operations such as taking customer calls, placing orders, issuing paychecks or checking inventory. The first step in any business continuity planning process is to identify the specific operations that would have the greatest adverse impact on the business if they were interrupted, and to associate an approximate dollar figure with that impact.
Step 2: Identify resources required by those operations.
Once business operations have been appropriately prioritized, the resources needed to restore operations in the event of an interruption can be identified. These resources typically include people, technologies, alternative workspaces, vehicles and physical tools.
Step 3: Define the minimum acceptable parameters for disaster recovery.
Once the resources necessary to restore operations are identified, continuity planners must determine the minimum acceptable parameters for restoration. These parameters include:
Capacity: A company that normally has four or five people taking phone orders may be able to operate with just one or two in an emergency.
Recovery time objectives (RTOs): Planners must determine how quickly each specific operation needs to be restored.
Recovery point objectives (RPOs): Businesses must define how much information they can tolerate losing in the event of an interruption.
For more information on business continuity, read the white paper “Disasters of Any Kind Can Negatively Affect Small Businesses.”