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Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Planning for Small Business Enterprises

Updated on December 29, 2014

Are You Prepared for a Disaster or Crisis?

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Business continuity planning refers to a ‘contingency plan’ whose objective is to protect the businesses from uncertainties that can happen at any time and severe enough to potentially shut the business down. While the possibility of such an even occurring may be low on your priority list or difficult to consider, the fact is negative thinking is part of developing business strategies which take into account worst case scenarios. Business planning is common in large companies, but it is equally important for small business owners as well. Experts in the field believe that failure to adequately plan for disasters, whether tangible or intangible could cause permanent damage to 60% to 80% of the businesses which means it would inflict harm to small and medium business enterprises which constitute the bulk of the U. S. economy.

Business continuity planning in practice may include protecting the businesses with business interruption insurance or establishing plans for telephone or computer system outages, hurricanes, fire, loss of key employees, or poor business conditions. In the earlier days business continuity planning (BRP) comprised of such components as insurance programs, building evacuation agreements, data centers etc which acquired systematic forms with the auditors making the existence of it a critical management information system (MIS). Today, with computerized information systems, preparing and keeping continuity plans up to date is easier. Templates are also available for the benefit of those firms who need guidance in completing their continuity and disaster recovery plans.

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Getting Started

It may be noted that we can provide only guidelines for the reason it differs from business to business and no universally accepted plan is possible:

  • Business owners should first list all of their major activities, assess the risks of such activities in order of their susceptibility, and access the likely adverse impact they can cause. This step will help clarify who and what should be done when disaster strikes.
  • Plans should be communicated to employees and provided the necessary training to ensure they are prepared for any eventuality.
  • Periodic exercise should be scheduled to assess the readiness of employees to handle emergencies.

Business continuity planning is a critical part of emergency planning which needs to be in place before an emergency occurs. It is no longer a question of whether you should have a business continuity plan, but rather how well your business continuity plan is prepared and executed when your business is facing vulnerable situations.

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Creating Your Plan

Before creating your plan it is essential to consider the potential impacts of various disaster scenarios and to understand the underlying risks. Using this information as the foundations, an effective business continuity plan or disaster recovery plan can be built. The next step is to actually create the plan which is challenging for most small businesses. However, once the plan is created it must be maintained, tested and audited to ensure that it remains appropriate to the needs of the organization.

One of the challenges for small businesses is the complexity of the task. The good news is that there are tools and templates available to make the task easier. Here is a list of white papers to review for more information:

  • Avoiding Disaster Recovery Epic Fails
  • Severe Weather Preparedness and Resiliency
  • Lessons from Hurricane Sandy about Disaster Recovery
  • The Business Case for Business Continuity Software
  • Mission-Critical Disaster Recovery in the Virtual World
  • Best Practices for Protecting Laptop Data
  • Getting your Program off the Ground
  • Message Mapping: Communication During the Six Stages of a Crisis

Why is Continuity Planning Important?

Disaster Recovery Plan Templates


Here is a list of free Disaster Recovery Plan templates to help you start the planning process.

  • IT Disaster Recovery Template (http://searchdisasterrecovery.techtarget.com/feature/IT-disaster-recovery-DR-plan-template-A-free-download-and-guide)
  • Pandemic Recovery Plan Template (http://searchdisasterrecovery.techtarget.com/Using-a-pandemic-recovery-plan-template-A-free-download-and-guide)
  • Business Impact Analysis Template (http://searchdisasterrecovery.techtarget.com/generic/0,295582,sid190_gci1361776,00.html)
  • Business Continuity Plan Template (http://searchdisasterrecovery.techtarget.com/feature/Using-a-business-continuity-plan-template-A-free-business-continuity-template-and-guide)
  • Disaster Recovery Plan Template (http://publib.boulder.ibm.com/infocenter/iseries/v5r3/index.jsp?topic=/rzaj1/rzaj1sampleplan.htm)

Resources

Here are a few articles that provide deeper insights into the topic of continuity and disaster recovery planning:

  1. ibct.com/ecp601_2012.pdf
  2. smallbusiness.chron.com/business-continuity-plan-412.html
  3. treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2008reports/200820178fr.html
  4. treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2008reports/200820178fr.html

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© 2012 SCH Consulting

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