The coronavirus caught many organizations flat footed. From the discontinuation of certain services to workforce limitations and other resources and capabilities being withdrawn, there are increased risks when disaster recovery and business continuity plans are not in place.
In this instance, the virus itself is not shutting down operations, networks or computer systems, but it can and is affecting how businesses are running. It’s not often that businesses face pandemics, but natural and man-made disasters as well as security threats and other outages are very real possibilities – all the time. For all of these reasons, and especially for the scenarios not being contemplated, it is critical that organizations do a risk assessment and develop disaster recovery and business continuity plans.
Here is a good place to start:
- Disaster recovery and business continuity plans should include provisions for both the people assets of the organization as well as its systems and infrastructure. This is step one.
- If the coronavirus has taught us anything, it is the critical importance of remote access, including VPN access, devices employees can use from home (laptops, cell phones, mobile hotspots) and servers that can support an entire workforce working from home. The continuity of business operations is key, and it starts first with the ability to get everyone up and online from locations other than the office.
- Communication during interrupted business operations is also very important. Business continuity plans should account for employee resources and other instructions, both offline in case connection is not immediately available and on company networks, to ensure constant communication is possible. A fluid transfer of information, communications and of business documents – among everyone in the organization – should be the goal.
- Essential and non-essential business operations and people need to be identified as such. You do not want to amputate an entire limb off of the organization, but when you have to operate lean it’s important to know where to turn to to make cuts and what is essential to ensure business processes will recover.
- Succession plans should also be in place that identify interim personnel for key stakeholders as well as redundancies in duties and responsibilities in the event that certain people become unavailable. The aim is to preserve operations so that entire departments or capabilities do not fall down. Know where the overlaps are and who will step in where.
- Another key consideration in any business continuity plan today should account for cybersecurity and other virtual threats. Again we are seeing this with the coronavirus, but it’s important to ensure the proper malware and other security measures have been taken – before a major event or crisis happens.