Life is Good Until...

Right now, your telephones are ringing. Customer service is busy taking orders and keying them in, and inventory production or replenishment is being determined on a minute by minute basis. They are processing payments which keeps cash flow in balance. Suddenly, the entire system goes down. What should the customer service staff do now?

DR + BC = BCMS. Your Disaster Recovery plan plus your Business Continuity plan is your Business Continuity Management System. What is the difference between  Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity? Many businesses think that if they back up their system to a tape, or to the cloud, they are fully covered. Not true. 

Honestly, if a disaster hits your business, you don’t really care about these terms – you just want to get back in business and not lose any valuable data.

Disaster Recovery is the recovery of data and records which are wiped out in the case of a disaster. The most common disaster experienced today is not earthquake, flood, or tornadoes. It’s human error.

Business Continuity is the ability to “turn back on” your business so that it is up and running in the case of a disaster. It is the ability of an organization to maintain essential functions during, as well as after, a disaster has occurred.

Both are necessary components and need to be considered right now, before a disaster hits.

How can you start to determine what type of plan you should have? Here are some simple steps:

Step 1: Business Impact Analysis. Conduct a Business Impact Analysis to identify time-sensitive or critical business functions and processes and the resources required to support them. Think about the points in time when an interruption would have the greatest impact (season, end of month, end of quarter, end of year). Look at the different time periods that your business may be down ( > 1 hr. / > 8 hrs. / > 24 hrs. / > 3 days / > 7 days / > 1 month). 

Step 2: Identify, document, and implement to recover critical business functions and processes.  Define the procedures for incident detection, alerting and notifications, triggers to activate the Business Continuity Plan, where to establish emergency operations centers, damage assessment, situational analysis, and the development and approval of an incident action plan.

Step 3: Organize a business continuity team and compile a business continuity plan to manage a business interruption.  Define the roles and responsibilities for the team members. Identify the lines of authority, succession of management, and delegation of authority. Address the interaction with external organizations including customers, contractors, and vendors. 

Step 4: Conduct training for the business continuity team, testing, and exercises to evaluate the recovery strategies of the plan. Develop training curriculum for the business continuity team members, testing schedules, procedures, forms for the business recovery strategies, defined IT recovery strategies, and orientation training.

To find out more about assessing your plan, contact me at