Business continuity planning is a process companies go through to ensure continuous business operations in case of a major disaster or disruption to the business. In order to accomplish this task, owners and managers use a variety of business continuity tools, including a written plan that lists the numerous factors that can affect the company. Modern technology allows companies to include computers and software among their business continuity tools. Audits are another tool that companies can include in their continuity planning process, albeit they are more useful after the fact than during planning.
Most companies will create a series of steps to follow when designing a business continuity plan. This plan will dictate the types of business continuity tools that will help the company achieve its goals. The two steps most important to selecting tools for continuity planning are analysis and solution design. The analysis stage allows business owners and managers to determine the specific internal and external factors that provide the most potential for disrupting the business’ operations. Once the company’s managers have listed specific factors, they can begin designing solutions to help avoid permanent disruptions.
A business continuity plan will include a number of different sections that outlines the steps necessary to continue business operations. Some companies will break this plan down into very minute plans or steps. For example, the plan may include different steps for natural disasters, man-made problems, breakdowns in government operations and threats from outside sources. Among business continuity tools, the written plan is often the most comprehensive and time consuming to create. It allows a company to design a plan that covers as many factors, however, as it can determine what factors will negatively impact the firm.
Computers and software packages are another tool available to companies. These business continuity tools allow companies to set up real-time data collection points to secure important business information. Servers allow for on- or off-site storage of data to ensure business information is not lost if the company’s facilities receive significant damage during a natural or man-made disaster. Owners and managers can also encrypt information with security codes to prevent manipulation from employees.
Audits are the final step in a business continuity plan. Many companies spend enormous amounts of time and capital to create a continuity plan. The plan may actually be used very little in the course of the company’s operations, however. Audits will allow companies to have a third party review the continuity plan and ensure it remains sufficient for the company’s needs. Companies may also receive information on how to change their continuity plan to improve or correct the continuity plan.