Developing & Implementing Business Continuity Planning

There are still too many organisations who believe that they have addressed business continuity by documenting a “business continuity plan” that summarises actions and contact details for reference in the event of an incident. Unless the whole business continuity lifecycle has been undertaken, this plan is likely to simply be a collection of information that will have little or no use when responding to a real incident.

Teed has been working with clients since 1999 giving our consultants many years of experience and skills to know exactly how to obtain the relevant information using Teed's tried and tested methods. Our consultant will map out the project for you through a series of phases starting with in depth discussions with your project team that will ultimately lead to a Business Continuity Plan for your business that works in practice.

Scope & Objectives

As with any project, the success will depend upon setting an appropriate scope and objective at the beginning. It may not be feasible or appropriate to consider every threat to your organisation during the first project phase and the scope will often be determined by your project drivers, i.e. who is requesting that you have business continuity plans and why. Similarly, clearly defining your business continuity objectives at an early stage ensures focus during your project, e.g. “to ensure that services to key customers will continue uninterrupted and other impacts will be kept within acceptable levels”.

Business Impact Analysis & Risk Assessment

It is essential that valid and useful information is collected during the business impact analysis and risk assessment phase as this will form the foundation upon which strategies and plans will be developed. Facilitating focused discussions with select managers who really understand the business will allow business priorities, their resource requirements, potential workarounds and related risks/issues to be determined.

Recovery Strategies

Having a “shopping list” of the precise minimum resource requirements of the business will allow effective recovery strategy discussions and investigations to be undertaken. It is all too easy to get carried away with investing time and money in risk mitigation and recovery strategy implementation – Teed methods ensure that pre-incident costs are kept to an absolute minimum and are only approved when wholly justified from a business continuity perspective. After all, there is a lot that can be achieved through effective incident management – the activities that need to resume within hours or days though may well require some additional actions to have been undertaken pre-incident.

Plans

Business continuity and incident management plans should now be developed that clearly outline the scope, recovery strategies, responsibilities, priorities, resource requirements and response/recovery actions required. These plans should be simple to follow, flexible and usable in the event of an incident.

Exercise & Test

No business continuity project is complete until the plans have been exercised and strategies tested. This is when key individuals will start to understand their roles and responsibilities in the event of an incident, as well as to develop an understanding of how important the business continuity planning process actually is. Inevitably there will be some things that need changed and it is better to identify these during an exercise rather than when faced with a real event.

Maintenance & Review

Business continuity planning is an ongoing process that requires ongoing review and maintenance of documents, expansion of scope to take account of new threats and organisational changes and the promotion of awareness. Ultimately, it should be an aim to embed business continuity management within an organisation to a level where it is accepted by all and changes happen as a matter of course. For this to be achieved, it is important during all stages of business continuity planning to keep it interesting and beneficial to all business representatives involved – never keep them in a room for longer than you need to, otherwise they won’t come back!