What is business continuity and why is it important?

Business continuity is an organization’s ability to maintain essential functions during and after a disaster has occurred. Business continuity planning establishes risk management processes and procedures that aim to prevent interruptions to mission-critical services, and reestablish full function to the organization as quickly and smoothly as possible.

The most basic business continuity requirement is to keep essential functions up and running during a disaster and to recover with as little downtime as possible. A business continuity plan considers various unpredictable events, such as natural disasters, fires, disease outbreaks, cyberattacks and other external threats.

Business continuity is important for organizations of any size, but it might not be practical for any but the largest enterprises to maintain all functions for the duration of a disaster. According to many experts, the first step in business continuity planning is deciding what functions are essential and allocating the available budget accordingly. Once crucial components have been identified, administrators can put failover mechanisms in place.

Why is business continuity important?

At a time when downtime is unacceptable, business continuity is critical. Downtime comes from a variety of sources. Some threats, such as cyberattacks and extreme weather, seem to be getting worse. It’s important to have a business continuity plan in place that considers any potential disruptions to operations.

The plan should enable the organization to keep running at least at a minimal level during a crisis. Business continuity helps the organization maintain resiliency, in responding quickly to an interruption. Strong business continuity saves money, time and company reputation. An extended outage risks financial, personal and reputational loss.

Business continuity requires an organization to take a look at itself, analyze potential areas of weakness and gather key information — such as contact lists and technical diagrams of systems — that can be useful outside of disaster situations. In undertaking the business continuity planning process, an organization can improve its communication, technology and resilience.

Business continuity might even be a requirement for legal or compliance reasons. Especially in an era of increased regulation, it’s important to understand which regulations affect a given organization or industry, such a healthcare and finance.

Three key components of a business continuity plan

A business continuity plan has three key elements: Resilience, recovery and contingency.

An organization can increase resilience by designing critical functions and infrastructures with various disaster possibilities in mind; this can include staffing rotations, data redundancy and maintaining a surplus of capacity. Ensuring resiliency against different scenarios can also help organizations maintain essential services on location and off site without interruption.

Rapid recovery to restore business functions after a disaster is crucial. Setting recovery time objectives for different systems, networks or applications can help prioritize which elements must be recovered first. Other recovery strategies include resource inventories, agreements with third parties to take on company activity and using converted spaces for mission-critical functions.

A contingency plan has procedures in place for a variety of external scenarios and can include a chain of command that distributes responsibilities within the organization. These responsibilities can include hardware replacement, leasing emergency office spaces, damage assessment and contracting third-party vendors for assistance.

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About Plow Networks

Plow Networks is a leading IT services provider, connecting businesses to technology since 2012. With deep expertise in network, cloud, and end user support services, we partner with clients to leverage technology in ways that simplify operations and fuel growth. Plow Networks is based in Brentwood, Tennessee.

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