A business continuity management solution is necessary for an organization. In fact, it is impossible to predict when a crisis will occur, but this will certainly happen. For an optimal resolution, it is essential to have foreseen a series of actions to implement the deed.
For a business continuity management solution, the main objective is to maintain an acceptable level of operations even in crisis conditions and guarantee a return to normal as quickly as possible.
We can ideally divide the process into three steps: planning, response actions, and returning to normal. Each of these phases is strategic, and each of them is essential for good business continuity management.
Business continuity management: plan for the worst
The planning phase must identify potential crises that could impact business continuity: they can be situations related to natural disasters, epidemics, geopolitical factors, cyber-attacks, or major infrastructure malfunctions. Factors, therefore, are also external to the IT sphere alone.
The planning phase also makes it possible to identify possible preventive actions, useful, for example, to anticipate and resolve much more serious situations. The worsening of an epidemic crisis in a certain area of the world could suggest some valuable actions to guarantee the operations of employees; the same suggestion could derive from terrible weather forecasts and such as to suggest the use of smart working in the context of business continuity management.
Business continuity management is not just IT.
The ones just described are two scenarios decidedly unrelated to IT topics, such as requiring precise preventive actions at the infrastructure level to guarantee business continuity.
The next step involves the definition of precise actions to be taken to resolve a crisis; therefore, it is, first of all, a matter of identifying and possibly preventing the crisis condition by applying the duly planned business continuity management plan.
Replication systems for business continuity management
In relation to the specific crisis condition, other important specific actions will be necessary: in the IT field, for example, it will be necessary to provide for the activation of replicas of systems down due to the crisis, as well as the appropriate configuration of the services that will have to access these systems. Obviously, a set of updated data must be available on these replica systems, so these systems, too, must be involved in backup and restore actions.
Optimized business continuity management
A good business continuity management plan must also foresee which services and systems can be temporarily deactivated to save hardware resources to be made available for other priority functions. All these actions will have to be managed during a crisis; therefore, the more punctual and precise the planning work is, the easier it will be to manage the emergency.
Involve all possible assets.
Those who manage the emergency are not the only IT staff: the business continuity management process must necessarily involve many figures in the organization. The IT staff will have the task of guaranteeing the operation and recovery of services and systems, but defining which activities have priorities and how to manage the work of employees in a crisis scenario is a task that requires a strategic and collective vision.
Emergency business continuity management
Emergency management requires indispensable tools:
- Emergency devices for accessing the corporate infrastructure
- Backup data connections
- A precise communication strategy within the team dedicated to managing business continuity
In the planning phase, the “non-IT” resources necessary to manage a crisis situation must also be foreseen.
Provide backup communication solutions.
In crisis conditions, alternative corporate communication tools and channels must also be considered; in fact, when the IT infrastructure goes into crisis, there will also be repercussions on the Unified Communication systems (VoIP calls, video conferences, IM, email). A good business continuity management plan must provide for an alternative communication channel, at least with the strategic organizational figures.
Business continuity management: protect data
Data security is an essential prerequisite for all actions to contrast and resolve the crisis: the emergency condition cannot authorize any reckless actions and authorizations. In fact, crisis scenarios must be considered potentially at risk for possible cyber attacks: malicious people could exploit the precarious condition – even through social engineering strategies – for the theft of information or for similar actions.
Business continuity management after the emergency
Once the emergency phase has been overcome, we will be faced with the return to normality which provides for restoring the initial conditions. The systems will have to be put back up & run, with the necessary data restoration, as well as obviously a necessary check on the integrity of the same.
This phase is followed by the recovery of the endpoint-side applications, with the necessary configuration checks. In the event that the crisis has medium-long-term consequences on certain services/systems, it will be necessary to provide the necessary remedies: redistribution of loads, redefinition of policies, and similar actions.
Training and updates for the teams involved in business continuity management
Good business continuity management must provide periodic appointments for the necessary updates, as well as moments in which the different teams involved in business continuity management carry out the necessary training, which represents an indispensable action in order to guarantee rapid reaction times and efficient methods.
Redundant services and hybrid scenarios
The management of crisis situations requires extreme flexibility and easily scalable tools. A business continuity management plan must, therefore, also provide for rapid access to emergency resources, such as machine replicas, and the creation of redundant services ready to be used in case of need. These emergency solutions can be managed through on-premises resources, in the cloud, or through hybrid environments. Therefore, it is also important to rely on trusted partners and providers for correct business continuity management, who will necessarily be involved in the various phases of business continuity management.
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