Concept image with Business Continuity Plan button on computer keyboard

Has your small business run into difficulties with business continuity—that is, staying up and running despite the disaster happening around us—during this ongoing pandemic? If so, and you didn't have a solid, up-to-date plan to guide you through the disruption, has your business struggled to get back on track and fully recover?

Don't continue to go it alone. Managed IT Services providers (MSPs) like us here at Computer Services Unlimited can help you navigate the murky waters of disaster recovery and get a proper data backup procedure in place so you can better handle future challenges. Unfortunately, it does not appear that we are through the worst of COVID-19 yet, and even so—other natural disasters, as well as cybersecurity breaches and even human error—present big risks to your precious business data.

It's true. If you have already experienced data loss due to a natural or human-made disaster situation, you probably realize the value of having a plan to come out fighting on the other side. Hindsight is always 20/20, of course. However, you may not yet know how to make a plan for "next time" or what resources exist to help make this easier for your business.

Today's blog post reviews some of the biggest things you need to know about creating a business continuity plan and explains why working with an MSP to accomplish this type of planning is the best, most low-stress way forward.

A Few Reasons Why a Business Continuity Plan is Critical for Small Businesses

As we cover on our Data Backup and Recovery page here on the website, the purpose of a comprehensive business continuity plan is to help your business be proactive about managing unexpected technology challenges and other issues so that you can safeguard and defend your business. This involves making sure that a disaster doesn't lead to long periods of business disruption.

Unfortunately, for smaller to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), budgets are often tight—especially right now—and this means that leaders of these businesses will have fewer resources to fall back on in the event of a data loss disaster.

Downtime is Going to Happen, and Untested Backups Are Unreliable

And some disasters are inevitable. In fact, 90% of companies experience some form of unexpected downtime, which typically results in lost data, productivity, and revenue.

Even if your business location is not at high risk for fire or flood events, something as simple as a hard drive failure on your CFO's computer could be devastating if you haven't planned ahead and backed up that data. Additionally, sometimes the backups themselves don't work. Industry data suggests that over 30% of SMBs never test their data backups, and so they have no idea that they are broken or corrupted until it's too late.

Consider these scary statistics about downtime and problems that occur when data is lost:

  • An hour of downtime costs $8,000 for a small company.
  • 5 hours is the average disaster recovery time, but 43% of companies never fully recover.
  • 51% of companies close within two years of a data loss event.
  • Companies that can't resume normal operation within ten days of a data loss incident will likely fail.

[Source: Datto DRaaS]

Still not convinced? You'll want to take a look at our free report, Protect Your Data, which gives SMB leaders an informative, easy-to-read guide that explains everything you need to know about data backups, data security, and business continuity.

Read the Report

What to Include in Your Business Continuity Plan

While a BC plan can be formatted in a variety of ways, there are a few key components that make it effective. The plan itself should be part of a broader disaster recovery strategy, as well as an overall proactive approach to your information technology that will prevent certain types of data loss events—like cyberattacks—from happening in the first place.

Your business continuity plan needs to detail all the things your business requires to resume operations in a temporary location. This includes preparing the tools needed to work offsite—like clear instructions on how and where your employees will work, how you'll care for them in the short and long term, and how you can keep serving your clients. It should also include information on when you want to be back up and running and who will help you get there.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

RTO is the point in the future when you plan to be recovered. The term also considers the time it should take to return a system or IT asset to operation after a disruption occurs.

Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

RPO is the past point in time that you will recover to. In other words, the point in time of your last data backup before the disruption, which should ideally be less than 24 hours before the data loss happened.

Employee Roles and Responsibilities

A critical component in crisis management, which you have during and perhaps immediately after the disaster, is establishing a clear chain of command and assigning areas of responsibility. This should be drafted up in your BC plan ahead of time and consider the fact that some employees may be unavailable depending on the type of disaster.

Clear Instructions on How to Deploy Your Backups

If you're working with a knowledgeable MSP for disaster recovery assistance, this step in your BCP documentation might just include a single phone number. Your MSP partner will be able to lead you through restoring your backed-up systems and data as soon as possible.

How to Go About Putting Your BC Plan Together

Because business continuity planning can be complicated and often requires gathering a lot of information about your network setup and business structure, having a knowledgeable partner to guide you can be invaluable. And professional assistance is more affordable than you think.

Don't waste precious time piecing a BC plan together on your own. Collaborate with an MSP who understands the ins and outs of data backup.

Ready to Create Your Business Continuity Plan? Call CSU Today!

The good news is that disaster recovery and business continuity help is right around the corner here in Northern Virginia when you work with us here at Computer Services Unlimited! 

To learn more about selecting an MSP for data backup services, contact us to speak with a data backup and disaster recovery expert right here in the DC Metro area and schedule your free, 30-minute network audit.