Building a global business continuity plan
In this age of globalized business, finding opportunities outside of home markets is essential to drive long-term growth. But moving out of familiar territories also means that your business faces a whole new range of potential disruptions.
These include outages created by floods, typhoons or earthquakes, all the way through to hacking and other cyber-attacks, thefts, epidemics and even staff turnover. A global business continuity plan (BCP) is essential to ensure that these disruptions don’t escalate into a disaster for your business.
building a global BCP
So what is key when building and testing a BCP? The first step is to carry out a business impact analysis (BIA); this is where you work out what processes and systems are most vital to operations and what impact their absence would have on your business.
What business processes would be affected by a network or site outage an extended period of time? Forming a checklist is a good idea: what systems can your global operation afford to be without for a while and how do you deliver an effective replacement? Then think testing; a BC plan must be rigorously tested. Real world testing is the only way to be sure your plan is effective.
different regions, different risks
Global organizations are at risk from varying types of threat depending on where they are located. This can include weather or natural disasters that are more prevalent in some regions, such as earthquakes or typhoons in the Pacific Rim. Some locations suffer from a lack of viable back-up network alternatives, which can make business continuity planning more challenging.
According to a recent KPMG survey, severe weather, power outages and IT-related events remain the three largest threats to business continuity, while the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) found that cyber-attacks and data breaches have no particular geographical center but remain a threat to operations around the world; their survey revealed 73 percent of organizations are concerned about both.
think ahead, think the right technologies
Throughout 2015 and beyond, utilize trusted maxim ‘hope for the best, plan for the worst’. With your global network in place and a comprehensive BC plan laid out, you mitigate the chances of anything major upsetting your business. But make sure the five points below are part of your BC plan.
1. embrace the cloud
Cloud computing is the global organization’s friend in disaster recovery and BC terms. With all your most vital data backed up onto servers in multiple off-site locations around the world, local incidents that impact your branches can be managed more smoothly and with minimal disruption to business operations.
2. build diverse infrastructure
Keep global communications flowing by having your network comprised of physical path diversity, multiple connectivity alternatives including submarine cable, satellite and terrestrial. Have high-level network path control in place to allow for automated traffic rerouting when events happen. Make power and UPS systems a focus of your BC plan and always keep your security infrastructure up-to-date.
3. think people
BC isn’t purely about systems and processes – it’s also about having the right people in place and having them suitably informed. Many organizations’ BC plans are let down by their failure to gain support from senior-level managers and business unit heads around the world – make sure you have their buy-in and commitment.
4. write it down, share it
Your people can’t buy in to your BC plan unless they can easily read it and share it. So having agreed your plan with the various relevant stakeholders, document it and keep copies in easily accessible places.
5. be proactive
In no other area of your business is proactivity so vital. A BC plan isn’t something you can wait to do - when you need and don’t have it, it’s already too late. Think ahead, assess risk to your global organization, know your operations inside out and work with colleagues to deliver the right plan. The business continuity plan needs to reflect the current state of the business, so it will need to updated as situations change.