By Sungard AS

Disaster strikes when you least expect it, and if you're unprepared your organization can face significant downtime, data loss and employee displacement - all of which can have a serious and detrimental impact on the viability of your business. Planning for all eventualities can help you identify risks and take relevant steps to mitigate them.

However, creating a business continuity program is only half the battle as there are certain things your organization should avoid doing if you don't want to render your plan ineffective.

1. Identifying the Wrong Risks

Don't fall into the trap of concentrating on a narrow set of risks or addressing the wrong risks. A disaster recovery plan needs to be comprehensive, covering all eventualities and identifying as many of your vulnerabilities as possible. The more situations you identify the more areas for improvement you are likely to discover which affords you time to fix them.

2. Failing to Update

If you already have a plan in place, then you're ahead of the game but your plan still needs to be reviewed and maintained on a regular basis. Technology is constantly changing, and ransomware and malware attacks are keeping up with the pace. An out of date plan might leave you vulnerable and unable to effectively recover your business in the event of an attack.

3. Lack of Plan Testing

As well as keeping your plan up to date, it's also important to practice implementing the plan with pertinent staff through frequent training exercises. Several times a year will allow you to see if your business continuity program is working and if there are areas of weakness that need modification. Threats change and evolve, becoming more sophisticated every year, therefore testing the plan often will help to close the resiliency perception gap that often accompanies safety measures. It will also be invaluable in keeping staff fully informed on how to deal with a myriad of disruptions as recent research found that 78% of companies face unplanned disruption and risks for critical applications.

4. Not Backing Up

In the event of an emergency, you may be reliant on your backup data, which could be stored at a different secure location. This practice is a frontline weapon when it comes to mitigating cyberattacks and should form a central pillar of any business continuity program. Assess which applications are critical to your business's function and dedicate separate efforts to ensuring they're updated, backed up, and recoverable in instances of disruption. If you're not backing up regularly, you could find that data is rendered useless because it is out of date. Make sure you keep backed up data secure and look out for any errors and risks.

5. Not Training Staff on Continuity Implementation

Failure to include your staff in frequent continuity training and plan implementation can leave you vulnerable no matter how comprehensive your business continuity plan is. It's vital for your staff to know what to do in an emergency - whether it's a natural disaster or a massive data breach. Poorly trained staff can often make a bad situation worse if they're not fully up to date in best business continuity practices. A successful continuity strategy is one that's communicated to all company staff to a relevant degree; new training should be provided on a systematic or as-needed basis following evaluation of existing and

6. Not identifying the key systems

When creating a business continuity strategy, it's tempting to view every application as critical and therefore not tiering dedication of resources accordingly. Part of business continuity planning is addressing resilience thorough business impact analysis (BIA) which helps organizations effectively map which systems are critical to the continued operation and which should be prioritized in terms of risk-management and budget allocation. This is an instance of working smarter, not harder and ensuring that key systems are effectively protected and swiftly recoverable following disruption to restore normal business function.

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