How to Develop a Successful IT Business Continuity Plan for New Jersey Companies

How to Develop a Successful IT Business Continuity Plan for New Jersey Companies

The majority of businesses in New Jersey rely increasingly on information technology solutions. Whether it's your customer database, inventory records, CMS or finance software, a natural disaster, cybercrime or theft could wipe out your systems in one fell swoop. Thankfully, the field of IT has evolved to develop effective ways of defending your business against potentially bankrupting circumstances. 

Continue reading to discover what an IT continuity plan is and find out if your New Jersey company should implement one.  

What Is an IT Business Continuity Plan?

Unfortunately, an exponential rise in cybercrime has followed in the path carved out by digital transformation. Businesses in New Jersey need to work fast to protect themselves against the risks brought about by hackers, spyware, malware and other threats to IT systems and databases.  

A business continuity plan is an outline of the steps your company takes to ensure business as usual continues in the face of a crisis. It's a detailed outline of the necessary processes and procedures that must be followed to set the wheels of disaster recovery in motion and secure your company's essential data. What's more, a BCP lets stakeholders and customers know your company is ready and prepared for any eventuality. 

If you conduct some, most or all of your business online, an IT business continuity plan is a vital component of long-term business success. 

Benefits of a Continuity Plan

The main advantage of having a BCP in place is reducing downtime in the event of disruption or disaster. It's crucial that employees can continue as normal, customers can continue making bookings or purchases and backlogs don't accumulate as downtime mounts. With a meticulous IT BCP, you can practically eliminate the risk of revenue loss and promptly return to business as usual.

There are even more reasons for your New Jersey organization to implement a BCP:

  • Reputation management: When you can respond to disruption and disaster quickly and effectively, the public will never realize you're facing the challenges that come with data loss. Even just an hour or a day of downtime could lead to an onslaught of bad reviews and significantly impact your reputation, and a BCP mitigates this risk.
  • Improved morale: When a workplace doesn't plan meticulously for the future, staff morale is impacted. When the team knows management is prepared for any eventuality, they can get on with their work confidently and securely.
  • Instill trust: When a new employee starts or you propose working with a new partner, they'll see your company's documentation. A solid continuity plan instills trust in third parties your company associates with.

Components of a Successful New Jersey BCP

A ton of expertise is required to develop an effective IT business continuity plan. Not only must you know your operation inside and out, but you must also understand how IT contributes to every element of it.

Let's look at the main features of a BCP.

Critical Data and Applications

You'll need to know which functions, data and apps are essential for your company to run. For example, e-commerce carts, maintenance apps, scheduling apps, CMS and back of house systems might be necessary for your company to function without quickly building a backlog of work.

All processes and procedures for which IT resources would be required for operations to continue as normal must be identified and assessed. 

Timeframe and Impact

A BCP should cover any worst-case scenario you can imagine and outline a plan for large-scale problems and smaller issues. Consider that failures might occur as a result of technology becoming obsolete or outdated and plan accordingly. 

Think carefully about the time frame as well. Could your company legitimately continue operating as normal without app data for 12, 24 or 48 hours? If not, how long is the maximum, and what would you do in the event of a short vs long-term outage? 

Remote Access, Backup and Redundancy Strategies

Consider the various types of IT strategy you might need to implement in the face of a disaster. Think about the following questions:

  • How could you maintain email services?
  • Where is your critical business data stored?
  • How do you currently handle backups?
  • Would you be able to access data remotely in case your work site is compromised?
  • How much time and money can you dedicate to implement each strategy?  

Procedural Documentation

A theoretical or verbal BCP isn't enough. You should clearly and carefully write out a thorough plan for each strategy. Processes help ensure anyone can pick up your plan and carry it out as your company grows and develops.

Periodic Testing

Having a plan in place is one thing, but it's no use unless you know it's going to work. Waiting for something to go wrong before you test it is a recipe for disaster, not disaster recovery. Be sure to periodically test your BCP the same way you test fire and safety procedures.  

Business Continuity Plan Checklist 

A business continuity plan should contain the following vital information:

  • The purpose of the plan and how you intend to carry it out
  • Who's responsible for the enactment and maintenance of the BCP
  • Risk assessment and business impact assessment
  • How you're going to inform key stakeholders of disruptions
  • How change management is going to be carried out

Who Needs a BCP?

Every organization, large and small, should have a business continuity plan in place. Unless you're operating a unicorn company that doesn't rely on the digital landscape, a BCP is an investment in your business's health and long-term viability.

The larger your New Jersey business, the more expensive a disaster is likely to be. Protecting your business against threats is a small investment that could save your company in the event of a worst-case scenario. 

Protect Your Business Against Its Biggest Threat: Data Loss 

If you need help or advice developing an IT business continuity plan for your New Jersey business, get in touch with Mazteck IT today.