Business Continuity Management (BCM) is the process that creates a system to increase the resilience and reliability of a product by ensuring prevention and recovery from potential threats to a company. The comprehensive list of potential threats can be a mammoth document as it would include all theoretically possible threats that might threaten the continuity of the business.
Therefore, managing business continuity at the time of interruptions because of realizing any of the threats requires the business to expect and foresee such circumstances. That is why the business invests in Business Continuity Planning (BCP), one of the pillars of business continuity management; the other central pillar is Disaster Recovery Planning (DRP).
ISO 22301:2019 defines business continuity management as a process that is responsible to implement, maintain and improve a management system to protect against, reduce the likelihood of the occurrence of, prepare for, respond to and recover from disruptions when they arise.
As you can see, the disruptions can be arbitrary. The idea is to protect against as many threats to resilience and security as possible. In the article, you will learn about business continuity management and business continuity planning and how you can implement them to make your business more secure and resilient.
Business Continuity Management (BCM)
The central idea of business continuity management (BCM) is risk aversion, incident management, disaster recovery, and continued operations. A business continuity plan is a document that identifies risks of all kinds and also determines how those risks will affect day-to-day business operations. The plan should cover the following themes in detail and clarity:
- Theoretical and practical risks and threats to the business.
- Impact of a given risk or threat to the business.
- Safeguards and procedures that mitigate the risks and protect against the threats.
- Test and verify if the safeguards and procedures work.
- Continuously review the plan document to make sure that it's up to date.
Creating a plan first involves the identification of risks and threats to business continuity. These can be broadly categorized into two categories.
External Risks and Threats
Some of the most common risks to business continuity are power outages, network outages, cooling failures, etc. These are external in the sense that, depending on your infrastructure model, they might depend on the colocation center or the data center, or the cloud service provider you are using. However, these are not the only external risks.
To mitigate external risks, you need to choose the right colocation or cloud service provider for your business server hosting who can attest to their ability to take care of such situations as and when they arise. You need to ensure that your service providers have the proper certifications and service level agreements to ensure that your business is available and operational, at least for the service levels that you promise your customers. On the other hand, if you want to own your infrastructure fully, you need to research how to build a small business server. In the end, you need to weigh the pros and cons in terms of cost, and especially in terms of business continuity planning.
Security is a big issue for every company, both for business continuity and compliance. DDoS attacks, malware attacks, and other forms of network-based attacks are far too common for any business these days. Therefore, the business continuity plan needs to identify these risks and at least take care of the low-hanging fruits, to begin with.
Other external causes can be natural disasters or criminal offenses like thefts and robberies. Protection against natural disasters is difficult. The idea is not to prevent all kinds of disasters. The idea is to have a plan for crisis management to ensure critical operations for the organization.
Internal Risks and Threats
Internal risks are mostly related to accidents. For example, if someone accidentally commits the wrong code, or drops a database, etc. However, if the business is hosting its services in its own data center or server room, many external risks become internal in some cases. These accidents are easy to avoid if the right processes are followed. Note that the cost of running and maintaining your own servers can be high for small businesses. Find out how much does a server cost for a small business and then make a decision.
In the worst-case scenario, you should prepare the business for a relevant response to such an activity. Internal risks, although they don't seem as dangerous, can be pretty disruptive. A data leak from a disgruntled employee, for example, can bring severe damage to the business. Therefore, to protect against such activities, security assessment is necessary for companies and organizations of all shapes and sizes.
Framework for Business Continuity Planning (BCP)
Different companies have different requirements in terms of planning for disasters. An international financial organization that deals in high-frequency trading will have a lower tolerance for any failure than a food delivery website, for instance. The stakes for organizations are different.
The central thought behind the process of business continuity planning is to ensure that irrespective of the types of failures, a fair and quick business impact analysis for such failure events is possible at all times, solutions are in place, and resources are available to take necessary action to get the business back on track as soon as possible.
In addition to the checks and balances mentioned earlier, a good framework for business continuity planning will include:
- Overview of the business continuity plan.
- Regular assessment of internal and external risks.
- Up to date certification for security, compliance, data center, etc.
- Different strategies to deal with disruptions.
- Regular exercises and upgrades to minimize the probability of disruption.
- Procedure for business impact analysis for identified threats and risks.
- A detailed program document for emergency operations.
- Key stakeholders (product manager, developer, etc.) and their emergency contact numbers.
This is not exhaustive. Although the standards for business continuity management have been clearly defined in the ISO 22301 specification, companies and organizations can do more to ensure seamless operations even in the problems mentioned above.
In today's time, even an event that causes a minor disruption in customers' service, especially for a technology product, can negatively affect the reputation in the long term. Therefore, systems need to be put in place to prevent any disruption in the business. However, it is not practically possible to prevent the business from all kinds of disruptions. Therefore, it is wise to have a plan of action for when the disruption occurs. In this article, you learned about how such a plan is created and what it consists of.
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