New to Business Continuity? Here's What I've Learned So Far

New to Business Continuity? Here’s What I’ve Learned So Far

When I joined the Infinite Blue team in April of this year, I was new to the world of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BC/DR). As I worked to get up to speed, I realized that now, more than ever, understanding the importance of business continuity is vital. There’s a lot of information out there, (trust me I’ve read most of it!) so I thought I’d put together some of the things that I found most helpful at the beginning, so if you are new to this industry and thinking about ways your company can be better at planning for things like pandemics and disasters, you’d have a good starting point. 

What is Business Continuity? There are a lot of definitions out there, but what stuck with me the most is the concept of “hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” We all hope that no disasters ever occur, but when they do, your company should have plans in place to deal with them. When COVID-19 caused most businesses to transition employees to work from home, a lot of companies had no idea how to manage everything that came along with that. There were tons of questions floating around like: 

  • What technology and office supplies were employees allowed to take home? 
  • How could the IT department ensure that home offices were secure? 
  • What happens if someone’s WIFI goes out? And what if an employee needs to upgrade their WIFI at home? 

With a plan in place, each department would know what to do, how IT should respond, and how long it would take to get up and running securely. With the recent pandemic as an example, it was easy for me to understand the importance of a good BC/DR plan. 

Who oversees planning? As a marketing professional, I of course wanted to understand as much as I could about our customers. Who is the person or team within a company that develops the BC/DR plans and oversees the execution of those processes during a disaster? What I’ve learned is that it really depends on a few factors like the company size and industry. Some businesses have a whole department that just focuses on those what-ifs, while other companies have one person managing lots of different areas, with business continuity planning being only one of their many responsibilities. What this told me is that it’s never a one-size-fits-all process. 

What kinds of tools are used to manage business continuity? Obviously, I know that BC in the Cloud is not the only application out there. But what if a company doesn’t have a tool or the budget to invest in one? Believe it or not, most people will use Excel, Word, and Google Docs if they don’t have a formalized tool or process yet. And there are even consultants that can be brought in to assist you with kickstarting a program at your company. It is possible to start small and build from there. This was helpful for me to understand because it means that any company, big or small, can start a BC/DR program.  

Why do some companies prioritize BC/DR and others don’t? The simple answer to this is some industries have regulatory requirements surrounding business continuity and disaster recovery and some don’t. Those that do are audited each year to prove that they have them. Another reason is budget. Developing a plan costs money whether you have a software solution or not. Someone needs to oversee it all and that someone needs to get paid. One aspect I really hadn’t considered before doing my research was location. If offices are located in areas where certain disasters are more likely to occur, it’s extremely important for businesses to have a plan in place to deal with them. 

Where do people in this industry get their information from?  I quickly learned that there are many great resources and certifications available. Continuity Insights, The Business Continuity Institute, Disaster Recovery Journal, and Ready.gov are just a few of the places you can find in-depth industry expertise. There are also several annual conferences where you can talk to multiple BC/DR companies in one place. 

Learning a new industry can feel a little overwhelming at first, but as you start to immerse yourself in articles, webinars, and how-to guides, you’ll see that business continuity boils down to being prepared. While one person or one team may oversee it for your company, the concept of BC/DR touches everyone in one way or another 

The information I’ve provided here is just a small sample of what’s out there. Have fun learning and let us know if we can help!