Business Continuity and IT: How to Keep Organizations Running (Part 1)

The business world is currently learning one of the toughest lessons in history, a lesson that has been consistently emphasized by experts but has not been given enough attention to by small and big businesses alike. This lesson is about business preparedness in dealing with disasters, emergencies, and a large-scale business disruption. With COVID 19 changing businesses all around the world, those businesses that are lucky enough to still be operating despite the global lockdowns are now embracing the importance of having a solid business continuity plan.

What is a business continuity plan?

From the term itself, it is a detailed, step-by-step manual ensuring the most critical business functions remain operational during an emergency, a disaster situation, or any circumstance that threatens to abruptly halt operations. It is better to have even a simple plan, than not to have anything at all. Businesses should invest, at the very least, time in putting together a BCP. With the future still looking blurry because of the pandemic, there could never be a better time to put together a simple plan, in case the situation worsens in the coming weeks.

Businesses can have one to several business plans depending on the scale of operations and breadth of functions. The more specific the plans are to the business units, the better. In this series of articles, we will look at the business continuity plan specific to carrying out IT functions, the role of external IT service providers, and the growing contributions of remote technical support.

Policy on IT processes

The first step for the business continuity plan for the IT function is to layout the policy on IT processes and the hierarchy of importance when it comes to the IT functions across the business. The policy should clarify which IT processes are deemed critical for the business – for example, a construction company might see the accounting software and systems as a more important IT system compared to its procurement system. This prioritization should be clearly stated and covered in the policy to set the direction for the team, without any further discussion needed when the emergency arises. This policy should be agreed upon and acknowledged as the foundation of the whole business continuity plan for the IT department.

In the next part of this series, we will talk about the list of tasks and the importance of identify the main responsible parties to execute the plans.