Business Continuity: Creating a Plan of Action During a Crisis

Reprinted with permission from Medicus IT (formerly MDcentric Technologies)

Life is full of ups and downs and twists and turns. And, when it comes to operating a nonprofit, expecting the unexpected is the best way to secure your organization for success down the line.

That's why it is paramount that every organization has a business continuity plan. These plans are designed to help an organization thrive even during an unpredictable event.

Today, we'll talk about the purpose of a business continuity plan, as well as how to create your own.

Why You Need a Business Continuity Plan

The main purpose of a continuity plan is to make sure that your organization can still thrive, albeit in a more limited space, during times of natural disasters, fires, cyber attacks, and other external threats. If you live in an area that is at risk of a hurricane, then it is wise to have a plan of action in place in the event a storm does occur. Natural disasters can not only force you to stop working if you're in an evacuation zone, but you also have to factor in that your workplace may be affected as well, which means that even after the storm has passed, you may not be able to start working from your office immediately after.

The same for fires, where a large fire in your office means you'll have to have a plan of action for how work can still get done.

When it comes to cyber attacks, you'll need to create a plan for keeping essential functions up and running.

In addition to figuring out how you'll get work done in a limited capacity after these unpredictable events happen, you also have to figure out how to recover in as little time as possible.

Having the right steps in place to help your organization get back on its feet before the event happens is a surefire way to getting things back to normal faster.

So, what exactly should go into a continuity plan?

What You Need In Your Business Continuity Plan

Here is a helpful outline for everything you need to include in your plan:

Identify Your Organization's Essential Functions

During a disaster, it is unrealistic to expect your organization to be able to carry out every single function it does during normal times. Instead, you have to prioritize the functions that must still be completed (if possible).

Start by ranking your functions in order of most important to least important to the overall success of your organization. This is a difficult exercise, as every function is important for your customers or clients in one way or another. By figuring out which ones are most crucial, you'll be able to keep your organization afloat during the recovery process by putting systems in place that will ensure you can still carry them out even during the recovery process.

Put in Place Failover Mechanisms

After prioritizing your functions, you have to put into place failover strategies. These are strategies that allow for vital information and data to be backed up on a secondary system component. Such components that may be backed up include a server, network, processor, or database.

This is a very important step in the continuity plan, as you should already have these backups in place in the event of a disaster. Waiting too long to enact these strategies can prove costly.

Outline Your Recover Strategies

When it comes to the overall recovery strategy, a well-thought-out plan can help make the process smoother. Setting recovery time objectives for different systems, networks, or applications can help prioritize which elements to recover first. Other recovery strategies include resource inventories, agreements with third parties to take on company activity, and using converted spaces for mission-critical functions.

Help Your Organization Succeed During an Emergency

Medicus IT offers Backup and Disaster Recovery solutions specifically designed to encrypt data securely, back it up at an off-site facility, and ensure that it is safe and accessible for organizations when needed.

Manual, local backup techniques, including changing tapes, discs, or hard drives, introduce the likelihood for human error. Where traditional backup methods leave off, Medicus IT’s hybrid online/on site solutions begin.

Through the Center’s money-saving partnership with Medicus IT, Center members get enterprise-grade IT support at discounted, flat rates. Learn more.

Medicus IT (formerly MDcentric Technologies) partners with security-conscious small- to mid-sized organizations, including nonprofits, to provide managed IT services, infrastructure, cybersecurity, and telephone services. They understand their nonprofit customers’ balance between supporting their missions through effective IT infrastructure and managing their budgets responsibly, and work with them to design value-conscious solutions oriented to their specific IT needs.