Business Continuity Is Just As Much About Process as Infrastructure

In an emergency, the right tools and infrastructure can make all the difference in the world. But hardware and software aren’t the only things necessary for proper business continuity. A clear plan is also essential.

Proper infrastructure lies at the core of effective business continuity. Automated cloud backups, redundant hardware with automatic failover, an effective crisis communication platform; these are all essential. “A good business phone system” to the list of essential business infrastructure ideas. However, they will ultimately fall short without a plan to tie them together.

There is an unfortunate misconception in the crisis management space very similar to one that plagues cybersecurity. Namely, that a business can simply throw money at the issue until it vanishes. This does not work.

Picture a monarch who wishes to protect a fortress from invaders. They spare no expense on the best equipment and materials possible. However, when all is said and done, they are left with no money to train that keep’s defenders.

They must man the battlements with leaderless commoners. Though well-equipped, they are nevertheless undisciplined and untrained. Unsurprisingly, when a rival attacks this castle with a well-organized army, the hapless defenders, replete in the best armor money can buy, scatter like grain in the wind.

The lesson from this anecdote is that it does not matter how powerful a business’s disaster recovery solutions are if its employees do not understand how to use it. It does not matter how much money a business has poured into measures such as redundant infrastructure and cloud backups if its processes do not incorporate these tools. And it does not matter how comprehensive a business’s asset inventory is if it has not coached its staff on what to do in an emergency.

Crisis management systems are still important. Inarguably so. The message here is that infrastructure and process are two sides of the same coin. Having one without the other will be ineffective at best, disastrous at worst.

With this in mind, a business continuity plan must hit the following notes:

  • Activation guidelines that lay out what qualifies as a disaster.
  • Action plans for each department, featuring a list of tasks organized by priority.
  • Clear delineation of roles and responsibilities.
  • A communication framework for both internal and external stakeholders. This should include approved messaging both pre- and post-crisis along with a social media communication plan.
  • Alternative points of contact in the event that a key employee is unavailable in an emergency.
  • Identification of important assets, and how critical they are to the business’s core mission.
  • Guidelines for every major disaster recovery and business continuity tool in the organization’s repertoire.

An organization with the tools and systems necessary to survive even a crippling disaster has taken a good first step. But it must also augment those solutions with a comprehensive business continuity plan. Otherwise, its approach to both disaster recovery and business continuity will remain forever incomplete.

Tim Mullahy
Tim Mullahy is the Executive Vice President and Managing Director at Liberty Center One, a new breed of data center located in Royal Oak, MI. Tim has a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry.

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