Developing a Business Continuity Plan

Business continuity planning (BCP) or disaster recovery planning is key to avoiding the perils and anguish of surviving a business disaster. This is a three stage process:

In this section we look at stage 1 – Developing a Business Continuity Plan

We divide the development into four stages:

Stage 1: Normal operation

The normal operation stage defines the business processes that need to be looked at along with defining practices and procedures that would tend to prevent a disaster from occurring and those that will help reduce the impact of a disaster should one happen.

It will also include creating or updating inventory lists, staff, client and supplier lists and documenting all processes that are being looked at.

This stage can be performed in isolation purely as a risk assessment.

Stage 2: Emergency response

The emergency response stage identifies activities that need attention during the first few hours of a disaster and produces the procedures needed to support these activities.

This includes contacting the appropriate members of staff, contacting the emergency services, managing the media, etc.

Stage 3: Interim processing

Interim processing represents the time during which alternative procedures are used to ensure that essential business functions can continue until normal operation can be resumed.

It also contains the procedures needed to retain data and information that will be needed to update the normal systems once normal operation has been restored.

This can include:

  • setting up in temporary premises
  • making sure that clients’ payments still reach the bank
  • ordering replacement equipment & arranging for their delivery, etc.

Stage 4: Restoration

The restoration stage defines the procedures needed to restore the company to normal operation. It will include procedures to recover IT systems, phone systems, etc.

Many business continuity plans focus on recovering the technology – computers, phone systems, plant and equipment, etc.

We focus on recovering the business processes

For example, at one of our clients, all their ordering was done using an email based system. An order was created and emailed via a distribution list to all the budget holders for their authorisation. Only when everyone involved had authorised the expenditure, was the order printed and sent off.

If the computer system that managed this was lost, a traditional business continuity plan would have ordered replacement kit, put the backups on and got the ordering system working again…

You see the problem here? Because there was no ordering system available, the replacement system couldn’t be ordered. But by focusing on the business processes rather than the technology, we knew that an ordering system was going to be needed, so we came up with a solution.

Into the fireproof safe went an old-fashioned mechanical typewriter and some specially created paper order forms and a list of places providing fax facilities. In the event of a disaster, these could be used to order the replacement equipment.

We offer a free one hour consultation where we can discuss your current plan and identify areas for review.

All business continuity plans developed by Network Midlands are confidential and will not be disclosed to any 3rd party without your permission, unless there is a legal requirement for us to do so.