The COVID-19 pandemic was a big lesson for business owners, and individuals alike, in evaluating their levels of preparedness for potential crises that might arise. If your business was ill-prepared for this pandemic, consider taking this time in lockdown to put together a continuity and disaster recovery plan.

What is the definition of a Business Continuity Plan?

business continuity plan is an organization’s ability to continue operations in the wake of disaster – big or small. Pandemics like the most recent Coronavirus pandemic, earthquakes or fires constitutes as big disasters that need a continuity plan. On a smaller scale, if a critical person in your business falls ill, dies or is unable to perform their duties, your continuity plan would take effect and ensure the smooth running of the company.

What is the difference between a Continuity Plan and a Disaster Recovery?

A continuity plan ensures that the business stays operational in times of crises, while the disaster recovery is the strategy you implore to resume operations after a disaster. The difference is that the continuity plan is managing the disaster and takes effect during the state of emergency, while the other is to restore normalcy after a crisis.

Why are business continuity plans and disaster recovery plans essential? 

Business continuity plans are essential to ensure that the company’s core functions can continue in times of disaster. The aim of having a continuity plan is to limit the impact of emergencies or unplanned occurrences like the COVID-19 pandemic. Being prepared allows you to have a cohesive back-up plan on the chain of command and the critical roles that enable your business to remain operational in times of crisis. 

You don’t need to see business continuity plans as focusing on the negative, but also as an opportunity for business owners to identify weaknesses and have cohesive strategies to better their businesses. 

An example of why a continuity strategy is necessary is the closure of non-essential businesses during the national lockdown. Non-essential companies have had to shift focus and cultivate an online presence to retain and gain new customers during the lockdown. Businesses had to pay particular attention to their social media marketing and develop online presence because they were unable to operate. 

While essential service businesses have had to deal with uptake in sales and had to ramp-up production, in both cases, a robust continuity plan saves you a lot of unnecessary stress. 

Where do I start putting a business continuity plan together? 

The point of departure for constructing your continuity plan is doing a thorough business analysis. Define the core and critical functions of your business, the key roles that will allow for continuity and assign responsibility. 

According to CIO Africa outlines six steps to crafting a Business Continuity plan, below is the checklist:

Business Continuity Checklist:

  • Identify the scope of the plan.
  • Identify key business areas.
  • Identify critical functions.
  • Identify dependencies between various business areas and functions.
  • Determine acceptable downtime for each critical function.
  • Create a plan to maintain operations.

The article also iterates the importance of testing your continuity plan. Review and improve on shortcomings. Click the link to read more: details what a thorough Disaster Recovery plan should include. Read more about it in-depth here:

Disaster Recovery Checklist:

  • Conduct risk assessment and business impact analysis
  • Determine recovery objectives
  • Assign roles and responsibilities within a DR team
  • Create a Disaster Recovery site
  • Prepare for failback
  • Store critical documents in a remote location
  • Establish equipment needs
  • Enable communication channels
  • Detail disaster response procedures
  • Report the incident to stakeholders
  • Test and update a Disaster Recovery plan
  • Decide on the right Disaster Recovery strategy.