Business Continuity planning is incredibly important to every business, but can be daunting to start. We’ve invited Steve Aiello, Technical Architect, as well as Lance Thompson, President and Founder of Baseline Data Services, to give a few tips for creating an effective business continuity plan.

It’s called Business Continuity, not IT continuity

Business continuity and recovery planning is a business issue, not an IT issue. This is Steve Aiello’s first point when speaking about BCDR (business continuity and disaster recovery), and to him, probably the most important. Steve says to go after the financials when starting to consider business continuity planning. Executing a BIA (business impact analysis) will help to map out what applications are making how much money, and what applications are critical to have up first after a potential disaster. Knowing what’s important to the business is going to result in less downtime for critical infrastructure when you do go to make your business continuity plan.

Know what your environment looks like

This sounds obvious, but sometimes isn’t. Lance explains that he has encountered a notable number of people who are in the midst of business continuity and disaster recovery planning, but have no idea what OS they’re using, or how many servers they have. This stems from companies often having a hodgepodge of hardware and software that they’ve cobbled together over the course of many years. Documenting a company’s environment and network, says Lance, can help to clarify what a company has, and what they really need. Steve adds on top of this that people need to understand where their data is, and what systems this data is dependent upon.

Testing, testing, 123 …

The last thing any company needs is to execute a BIA, make a business continuity plan, implement a disaster recovery plan, and then realize there’s a problem with it in the middle of a disaster. Lance suggests testing annually. Some of the most aggressive plans he’s seen even go so far as to test quarterly. A big stumbling block is a company that executes a plan, and even tests it at first, but doesn’t continue testing and changing. Over time, companies change their processes, services, and people, and there needs to be periodic changing and testing to ensure the solution you’ve put in place is still viable.

If you’re interested in more tips and best practices from Steven Aiello and Lance Thompson, they will be at Online Tech’s Indianapolis Data Center for a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery workshop on January 22nd. There is still space to attend if you’d like to register.