Minimizing Business Interruptions During Disasters
Business Continuity planning requires a thorough review of your organization's entire operation for safety and operational vulnerabilities. This business impact assessment (BIA) should include not only day-to-day operations but also include key suppliers, business, and data partners as well as infrastructure components that are deemed vital. Planning must include detailed contingency plans that will guide your organization in performing its critical functions during a disruption or disaster.
You must start the process by identifying all critical processes and by evaluating threats at every location, identifying all the key components, their interdependencies, and their relative importance.
This planning should include:
A review of all hazards and threats quantifying the potential for impact.
Triage to identify processes, systems, functions, and partners that are most critical and at risk.
Developing contingency and disaster-recovery plans for each process.
Identification of mitigation steps.
A review of the functionality, practicality, and cost-benefit of various contingency and recovery options.
Crisis communication and notification plans for employees and stakeholders.
Contingency planning should be an integral part of your overall business continuity management process.
While the specific details of your individual contingency plans must be worked out by your users and IT personnel, all contingency plans should address the following areas, at a minimum:
- Objective of the plan (e.g., continue normal operations, continue in a degraded mode, abort the function as quickly as safely possible, etc.)
- Criteria for invoking the plan (e.g., local disaster, experiencing serious system failures, etc.)
- Expected life of the plan (How long can operations continue in contingency operating mode?)
- Roles, responsibilities and authority
- Plan creation and checkout of resource constraints to plan for each contingency and objective
- Training on and testing of plans
- Procedures for operating in contingency mode
- Resource plan for operating in contingency mode (e.g., staffing, scheduling, materials, supplies, facilities, temporary hardware and software, communications, etc.)
- Criteria for returning to normal operating mode
- Procedures for returning to normal operating mode
- Procedures for recovering lost or damaged data
Guidelines for Contingency Plan Development - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers a comprehensive guide to contingency plan development.
Disaster Recovery Institute of Canada - Professional Practices for Business Continuity Planners
University of Wisconsin - Disaster Management Center
The Association of Insurance and Risk Managers provides a checklist for evaluating your contingency plan. There is an excellent step-by-step guide to contingency planning, as well as various templates that can be used as the basis for a checklist or audit of current contingency plans.
Download a sample contingency plan in Word format
Disaster Recovery Planning - this book examines the causes of computer system failures, and explains how to create a disaster recovery plan to prevent disasters or minimize the impact of disasters that cannot be avoided. It provides a detailed analysis of disaster avoidance systems and also covers the politics of disaster recovery planning.