The recent pandemic has forced many businesses to act quickly to ensure that they were able to continue functioning under significant constraints. As we move forward and restrictions ease, now is the perfect time to make certain that your business continuity IT plan meets the needs of your organisation.  By ensuring that you have a business continuity IT plan in place, you can verify that your business operations can continue to function no matter what eventuality.

However, when taking steps to implement a business continuity IT plan, many organisations find it difficult to decipher the different phrases and terms that should form part of their plan. In this article, we explain the meaning of the key terms of “business continuity”, “contingency planning” and “disaster recovery” and what they mean for your organisation.

What does business continuity mean?

Business continuity is a plan put in place to establish that your business can continue to operate with as little interruption as possible in the face of disaster. Disasters affecting your business can range significantly, from physical events such as fire, flooding, or theft or other disasters such as cyber-attacks, loss of data through human error, or staffing disruptions.

What do I need to consider in my business continuity IT plan?

Firstly, you need to establish the biggest risks to your business by considering what could stop your business from being able to function and which of these functions are business-critical. From this review, you will also discover those risks that will be affected by a disruption to your IT network, and also how your IT network will need to support your business in the event of other factors that might mean user access to IT might be disrupted. The pandemic is a prime example of how people who might normally work in an office, suddenly requiring the tools to work from home.

By working together with key players within your organisation you will be able to examine as many factors as possible that may affect your business. You will also need to review which disasters put your organisation at the most risk, for example, call centers may consider their telephone system more business-critical than a graphic design company that may prioritise backing up data.

Once you have established the key risks to your business, you are well-set to put in place contingency planning to prepare for future events.

What is contingency planning?

Contingency planning forms part of your business continuity plan and outlines how you will deal with the risks to your business that you have identified and allow your business to maintain its key functions.

What do I need to consider in my contingency planning?

You will need to make certain that the wide range of situations and risks that you have identified are covered in your contingency planning and implemented in your business continuity plan. For each risk, you need to establish that you have a strategy to restore function to your business. This could include where you will move your business function should your building become inaccessible, through to reorganisation of job roles should a member of staff leave at short notice.

Once you have implemented your contingency plan, you then need to consider how to get your business functions back on track.  This may be through disaster recovery.

What is disaster recovery?

Disaster recovery can take many guises and covers all the functions you can take to return your business operations back to normal following a disaster. To move on from your contingency plan back to normal operations, you should consider which members of your team will be responsible for undertaking recovery tasks as part of your disaster recovery strategy.

One way that you can plan for business continuity is by considering disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). DRaaS is a cloud computing service model that allows an organisation to back up its data and IT infrastructure in a third-party cloud computing environment. Should the worst happen, the provider will complete the disaster recovery orchestration to allow you to regain access and functionality to IT infrastructure.

What do I need to remember about the key terms of “business continuity”, “contingency planning” and “disaster recovery”?

All of the terms identified form a part of your business continuity plan. Your business continuity plan will outline the risks to your business and contain your contingency plan. Your contingency plan will propose how you will deal with the risks you’ve identified. The final element of your business continuity plan will be disaster recovery, how you will return your business function to normal after the risk has passed.

How can Link ICT support you in business continuity IT planning?

Link ICT Services have supported a wide range of organisations in implementing a business continuity IT plan, from small businesses through to large multi-site secondary schools. Whatever stage you are in your business continuity planning journey, we can join you to support you in identifying the risks to your IT infrastructure, help you to put a contingency plan in place, or even support you in disaster recovery.  To find out more, please get in touch with a member of our team.