Understanding Business Continuity: Shackleton's Thoughts
Written by Steve Ross
Over the past few months, we've put a focus on business continuity - with the year almost at an end, we look back on our discussions...
2015 was an eventful year for those of us who preach the importance of business continuity: there was no shortage of natural disasters or hacking incidents to cause disruption for SMEs and Enterprise organisations alike. Our emphasis on business continuity comes at a time when it is eminently possible to put a robust plan in place no matter the size of your organisation or your budget.
So what were our thoughts on the main developments in the business continuity landscape?
Threats and Disasters Aren't Going Away
In August, lightning struck a Google data centre, causing a power failure and the loss of user data. The incident demonstrated just how unpredictable and devastating natural disasters can be - to any size organisation. December's flooding in the north of England only reinforces that sentiment...
Of course, it wasn't just natural disasters posing a threat to business: malicious cyber-threats continued to hit the headlines. Even as the shockwaves of the Sony hack were dissipating, TalkTalk suffered its own major cyber-security leak, exposing the private data of millions of customers and severely damaging the company's reputation.
The advice we give our clients: Anticipate the threat - from fire and flood, to data loss and hacking, your business continuity plan should be ready for anything.
Building Your Plan
It's easy to talk about business continuity, but building a plan involves considerable thought. To help, we offered a step-by-step BCP planning guide, emphasising the following points:
- Find the right team: Your BCP should be written by people who know your company and can identify the risks you face.
- Identify essential services: When disaster strikes, your BCP should prioritise certain core services, and build from these as part of your recovery strategy.
- Test: Once your plan is established, the only way to gauge how effective it will be is to test it in as authentic an environment as possible.
The advice we give our clients: A plan which doesn't work is pointless (not to mention a waste of your employees' time). To protect your business you'll need to consider what makes your organisation unique.
Ignoring the Risk
Despite a series of high-profile incidents affecting businesses across the UK and the world, in late 2015 a study revealed the majority of SMEs in the UK were ignoring the risks. The research by Databarracks showed that only 27% of SMEs had a business continuity plan in place and, of those that did have a plan, only 17% had tested its effectiveness in the past 12 months. Further research showed 60% of businesses which suffer some kind of data loss shut down within 6 months of the incident. That so many SMEs are ignoring the need for a BCP suggests a widespread (and misplaced) perception that creating a continuity strategy may be too costly, too time-consuming, and too resource-dependent to work.
The advice we give our clients: Misplaced perception, combined with the "won't happen to me"-factor is exposing UK businesses to unnecessary risk. In the event of disaster, a BCP will show its value - in the meantime, it offers peace of mind to customers and employees.
Our Thoughts: Look To The Future
Once you understand the risks - and their solutions - it's easy to see how a BCP is such an effective and worthwhile measure. With the help of cloud computing and networked storage, our position with clients is that building a BCP has never been cheaper, easier and more efficient.
It's fine to hope you'll never need to execute your BCP, but having one is more than just a safety net: it indicates to clients, customers and your own employees, that you're serious about your business now, and in the future.
Do you understand why BCPs are necessary? Do you need help fine-tuning your BCP to suit your organisation? Contact us today...
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