10 Things You Need to Include In Your Business Continuity Plan Checklist

Vitali Edrenkine
EVP, Worldwide Sales & Marketing

With threats to your business coming from every direction—and now amplified by bad actors embracing AI—ensuring business continuity must be a priority for every IT pro. While that may be true, downtime and data loss prevention efforts by many mid-sized companies haven’t been successful. 

Arcserve’s independent global research study found that 76 percent of IT decision-makers surveyed said their organization had suffered a severe data loss. Eighty-three percent of the respondents said that 12 hours or less is an acceptable level of downtime. 

Sounds reasonable. Unfortunately, only 52 percent said they could recover from a severe data loss in 12 hours or less. And 95 percent of respondents said their company has a disaster recovery plan. However, only 24 percent have a mature, well-documented, tested, and updated plan.

Lacking an effective business continuity plan—which includes disaster recovery—can be costly. In a recent Uptime Institute survey, 45 percent of respondents reported that their most recent outage cost between $100,000 and $1 million. These numbers make the case for you to take immediate action to update (or create) a business continuity plan that ensures you don’t take that kind of financial hit. So, where do you start?

Developing a Detailed Business Continuity Plan Checklist

Here are ten things you need to include in your business continuity plan checklist, including a clear description of the process, objectives, and outcomes. Once completed, these exercises will form the foundation for an effective, efficient business continuity and disaster recovery plan.

1. Select a Planning Team

Process: Identify key personnel from across your organization, including IT, HR, finance, and operations. Include senior management to ensure support from decision-making authorities.

Objective: To form a cross-functional team that understands diverse areas of your business, operations, and goals.

Outcome: A comprehensive plan that addresses all critical business areas and systems.

2. Inventory All Technology

Process: Conduct a complete audit of all IT assets. There are plenty of available tools that automatically discover IT assets, and you’ll find TrustRadius's reviews of audit software here.

Objective: Gain a complete understanding of all technology resources: hardware, software, cloud services and virtualization, external dependencies, and any other resources that relate to or impact your operations, such as BYODs, backup systems, and power supply systems.

Outcome: A clear picture of all technology resources to support effective risk management and disaster recovery planning.

3. Conduct a Business Impact Analysis

Process: Identify and prioritize critical business processes and data. Take regulatory and industry compliance requirements into account. Assess the potential impact of disruptions on these processes and data loss to your organization.

Objective: To understand which business areas require immediate restoration to minimize business impact.

Outcome: A prioritized list of business functions, processes, and data that guides resource allocation during recovery.

4. Draft the Initial Plan

Process: Define the scope of your plan, including identifying critical business functions, data, and resources and documenting roles and responsibilities. Then, develop disaster recovery strategies that address data backup, including setting your recovery time and recovery point objectives (RTOs and RPOs)

Objective: To create a blueprint that guides your organization’s response during a disruption.

Outcome: A thoroughly documented initial response strategy that addresses potential disaster scenarios.

5. Train and Educate Your Employees

Process: With a recent report finding that 82 percent of all cyberattacks involve the human element, you must develop training programs and conduct regular drills. Address how to recognize malicious emails and report suspicious activities, crisis management, emergency procedures, and specific roles during a disruption.

Objective: Ensure all employees are aware of and prepared for their role in your business continuity plan.

Outcome: A ready and capable workforce that acts as your first line of defense against downtime and disruptions and can respond effectively during a crisis.

6. Secure Mission-Critical Information

Process: Implement advanced cybersecurity measures, such as Sophos Intercept X Advanced, encrypt sensitive data, and ensure the physical security of all data centers. Regularly update security protocols to ensure you adapt to changes in the threat environment.

Objective: To safeguard sensitive information from cyber threats and physical damage.

Outcome: Enhanced protection of critical data, reducing the risk of data breaches and loss.

7. Implement a Backup Strategy

Process: Establish regular backup schedules that align with your RTOs and RPOs, following the 3-2-1-1 backup strategy. Employ data replication for critical systems.

Objective: To ensure that all your data and systems can be restored quickly after a disruption. 

Outcome: Minimized downtime and data loss if a system failure, natural disaster, ransomware attack, or data breach hits you.

8. Deploy Failover and Redundancy Solutions

Process: Put redundant systems in place, particularly for critical functions. For high availability, utilize cloud services—and consider services that can execute a failover with a single click of a button.

Objective: To maintain business operations even if your primary systems are breached or fail.

Outcome: Business continuity and service availability during virtually any type of disruption.

9. Create a Communications Plan

Process: Develop communications protocols for internal and external stakeholders, designate spokespersons, and prepare templates for crisis communications.

Objective: To effectively manage information flow during a crisis.

Outcome: Clear, timely, and accurate communication that maintains trust and minimizes confusion.

10. Test and Update Often

Process: Regularly schedule drills and revise the plan based on feedback and results. Incorporate changes to business processes and technologies.

Objective: To ensure the plan stays relevant and effective.

Outcome: A continually evolving business continuity plan that keeps pace with your organization’s growth and changing risk landscape.

Reduce Risks with a Robust, Effective Business Continuity Plan

By following these steps and focusing on the expected outcomes, your business continuity plan can ensure you are prepared for potential disruptions and fast, efficient recovery. 

That preparation will not only save you from the high costs of data loss and disruptions but also safeguard your company’s reputation. Don’t forget: Regular updates are essential for keeping your business continuity plan aligned with your evolving business environment and emerging threats.

To learn more about Arcserve business continuity, data protection, backup, and disaster recovery solutions, talk to an Arcserve technology partner.

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