Business Continuity Planning Guide


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This documents provides helpful tips to nonprofit and higher education organizations regarding disaster preparedness and business systems continuity.

It is only a guide and should not substitute comprehensive business continuity planning.

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Business Continuity Planning Guide

  1. 1. Business Continuity For additional information, please refer to the following resources: Planning: An Insurance Policy for Your Organization Recovery_Planning_The_Basics#1
  2. 2. Disasters happen all the time. Communication with your staff is key. They should be Technical Aspects of Business Continuity: educated on the Business Continuity Plan well before Whether it’s a fire, flood, or some other natural disaster, you need to be prepared. You know the statistics about disaster strikes as you will not have time and may not Any Business Continuity Plan is going to center around organizations that face a disaster; according to the U.S. Department of Labor, 40% of businesses never reopen have the communication resources to do so afterwards. your organization’s technological resources. These after a disaster. So, what can you do to avoid becoming a statistic? include not only hardware and software, but also your Inform your staff what needs to be done and what skills human resources to get the technology back up and The answer is obvious, prepare! are required for a particular task. Do not, however, try to running. tie a staff member to a particular task in the event that Disasters don’t have to be devastating. Here are 6 general steps to help you prepare for the next one. A thorough Business Continuity Plan should include some of your staff may not be available if the disaster is widespread. updated configuration diagrams as well as the names and contact information for your technology providers.1. Identify and evaluate business requirements. Business Continuity Planning is all about preparing your You don’t want to find out after a disaster that something organization for the unexpected disaster, so you can in your plan was incomplete. Testing the plan helps you • Software applications • Employees/volunteers continue your normal operations as quickly as possible. work out the details that might otherwise be forgotten. • Phone systems • Location • Hardware • Technology infrastructure First you must know exactly what you’ll need to make Testing should be conducted on every area of operations that happen. Identify all the business requirements and for your organization—not just the technical aspects. Be • Telecommunications services, etc. • Services you provide rate them in order of importance. Keep in mind the sure to test everything. Adjustments should be made, and • Time sensitive processes many different types of disasters and how each one more than one test may be necessary. The BCP should include details on what needs to happen, • Special equipment may have an impact on your organization in the order it needs to happen, and how it will all get Changes should be communicated to your staff. And done.2. Protect your data. Analyze the requirements and the resources necessary don’t forget to educate new staff as they come on board. Do you perform nightly backups? If you to fulfill the requirements and maintain operations from Your BCP should be re-examined on an annual basis • Network set up: security, redundancy, etc. know a disaster is coming, you should back a secondary office space or from home. Can any since technology, staff, and procedures may change. • Server set up and configurations up your data more often. processes be put on hold, and how do they affect your • Load operating systems overall operations?3. Analyze possible threats and risks. • Install application software Data backups should be performed nightly to ensure Related Issues to think about Both internal and external. • Restore data your data is always up-to-date. Backup files should be • Synchronize database4. Document the BCP and educate staff. stored off-site in a secure location, preferably a secure While there are many technical aspects to recovering from data center with redundant power supply. Without the a disaster, there are also a number of other related details • Make configuration changes5. Test the plan. Test Everything: key information your organization relies on every day, to think about. Such as: • Perform follow up checks • Your Staff there is little hope to recover from a disaster. • Open service to users • Hardware • Who has authorization to purchase new equipment Disasters can come in many forms, and your for emergency needs? • Set up phone system (if you’re out of your offices • Software organization should be prepared to handle each of them for an extended length of time) • Systems • What processes do they need to follow? in a different way. E.g. How you manage a natural • Data backups • Services • How will you notify your staff (both internal & disaster like a tornado should be different than how you • Power backup: UPS, backup generator, etc. • Processes handle a health crisis. external)? • Document management • Procedures • How will you communicate with those you serve? Risks may include operations performed by just one • Security, etc. − Donors Keep in mind, your staff may not be available to help. person with the necessary skills and knowledge. What − Students Store contact information for several organizations that6. Re-evaluate and update your Business will you do if that person is unavailable? While − Alumni may be able to help if you’re short-staffed. Continuity Plan each year. developing a BCP, it’s a good time to perform a Security Audit to evaluate all your security risks. − Board members, etc. Having a well thought out BCP is a good start, but it won’t help you recover from a disaster if your staff isn’t well informed. An educated staff will be more likely to While it’s impossible to anticipate every possible disaster that could affect your operations, having an overall BusinessThink of a Business Continuity Plan buy-into the plan, and they will be better prepared to Continuity Plan will ensure your staff is able to deal with it in a planned, organized manner. It will help you recover more as an insurance policy! enact it if disaster strikes. quickly and reduce the impact of the disaster on your organization.