3 Business Continuity Lessons for Canadian Businesses
Prior to 2020, when speaking with clients about business continuity planning, we often had to rely on hypothetical events. We would have them envision natural disasters, office gas leaks, or fires. Scenarios where access to their IT infrastructure might be temporarily or permanently disrupted.
Over the last two years, we have seen those hypothetical scenarios become reality. COVID-19 pushed many organizations to rapidly adopt remote work, while recent protests blocked access to entire neighbourhoods for weeks. While not every Canadian business was impacted to the same degree, there are broad lessons that can be gleaned from these business-disrupting events.
Creating a comprehensive business continuity plan is the most important thing you can do to prepare your business for a disruptive event. Business continuity planning defines the processes for dealing with temporary or permanent disruptive events. Disruptive events can happen as a result of hardware or software failure, natural disasters, cyberattacks or other disasters that can result in loss.
What will be the purpose of your business continuity plan? While the foundational goal of every Business Continuity Plan is centred around ensuring continuity through disruption, business continuity plans can vary in their approach. This is why it’s critical to identify your business continuity plan objective early on. This is typically one of the first sections in a Business Continuity Plan.
Setting a business continuity plan objective is essential for ensuring that everyone is aware of what the plan aims to achieve. If you create a plan that is focused on IT continuity, then your continuity plan should make it clear that more planning will be needed for other areas of the business.
The ultimate goal of a business continuity plan is to ensure these disruptive events don’t have a significant impact on your business’s ability to function. Business continuity planning is not something that can be done ‘on the fly’. Careful planning and consideration can ensure that when an event takes place there are documented processes to maintain the confidentiality, integrity and availability of your data.
Here are 3 lessons to keep in mind when creating a business continuity plan:
1. Start with Your Data
The starting point for any business continuity planning is understanding where your data is, who requires access to it and from where. Your company’s data should be classified and labelled based on sensitivity, keeping in mind the impact on the organization if certain data were made public.
From there, understand where your data is located. Is it stored locally on servers or workstations? Hosted with a cloud provider? If so, where are their servers located? What redundancy is in place? Understanding the scope and location of your company’s data is the first step to ensuring proper protective controls are in place and plans for access and availability are comprehensive.
2. Identify Your System Dependencies
Map out all the dependencies in your infrastructure to get a clearer picture of the complexity of your systems. Establish the connectivity components that you need to keep running if a disruptive event does occur. What hardware, applications, supplies, records, must be available and operational in order for your company to continue functioning?
As an example, if your financial data is located on an in-house server that will be accessed remotely under a business continuity scenario, internet service (and power) to the office become critical dependencies. Part of business continuity planning should consider redundant internet service from different providers, as well as backup power sources.
3. Have a Written Incident Response Plan
When developing a business continuity plan, businesses must understand that they will need more than one document, and one of those documents is an incident response plan. Having an incident response plan means your business will be prepared for incidents such as a data breach, a power outage, or a security breach. These risks can cause lasting financial and reputational damage. The ability to respond to these incidents can be crucial to your business’s bottom line.
A written incident response plan is your business’s set of procedures and responsibilities in the event of a disruptive event. Your incident response plan will help your incident response team reduce widespread downtime.
Your written incident response plan should address the following:
Developing and maintaining an effective business continuity plan is crucial for keeping business operations running through unexpected disruption. By assessing known and unknown risks and outlining key strategies, your business can greatly reduce the chances of an extended interruption to mission-critical systems and services.
365 Technologies offers business continuity solutions and creates a business continuity plan to keep your business operations and employees going even when disruption takes place. We store backups of your data to secure your business and develop a strategy to reduce the overall cost of data loss and downtime.
We customize business continuity solutions that are tailored to meet the specific needs of your business. Furthermore, we take time to understand your business processes and the system requirements that are needed to drive these processes. By understanding your processes and system requirements, we are able to construct the full scope of your business continuity plan, including what IT operations could be interrupted in the event of a disaster, and what you will need to do to ensure the IT operations continue running.
Ready to find out how 365 Technologies can protect your business? Contact us today for more information.