Business Continuity Planning for Small and Medium Size Businesses

Problem Statement: Data Loss and the Associated Risks

A recent study discovered that, of companies experiencing a “major loss” of computer records, 43 percent never reopened, 51 percent closed within two years of the loss, and a mere 6 percent survived over the long-term. Episodes requiring the recovery of business data include; natural disasters, accidental or intentional data sabotage, systems failure, media theft… to name only a few.

For small and medium-sized businesses (SMB’s) in particular, these conditions and the criticality of a swift recovery further emphasize the need for detailed Business Continuity Planning (BCP) and robust data backup and recovery solutions.

Not convinced? Ask yourself a few simple questions:

What would happen to your business if you suddenly lost the following and how would you recover?

– Emails (current or archived)
– Accounting Data
– Patient or Client Records
– Internal Documents or Records (HR files, Tax filings, Inventory records, Purchase Receipts,etc)
– Customer Order and Contact Information
– What is the value of and risk to intellectual property or proprietary information in the event of a disaster?
– What would be the impact to your business due to the loss of customer confidence?
– What advantage could your competitors gain due to your data loss or due to the resulting impact to your business?

Unlike large corporations, many smaller companies cannot afford optimal in-house strategies and solutions in service of BCP. Like enterprises however, SMB’s face the same risks of civil or criminal action in the event of loss or exposure of customer data. Without the means to recover, these companies are at elevated risk of being put out of business due to any major loss of data.

Business Continuity Planning: a Blueprint for Surviving Disaster

In plain language, BCP is working out how to stay in business in the event of disaster. BCP is the blueprint for how businesses plan to survive everything from local equipment failure to global disaster. A thorough BCP should result in a formal printed manual available for reference before, during and after the disaster event. Data-oriented BCP is an indispensable component of this plan regardless of organization size. It is the key to recovery and compliance in the event of data loss. Copies of the plan should be readily accessible to anyone who plays a role in the plan and should be stored off-site in location(s) deemed to be unaffected by the potential risk.

What’s in a Plan??

A good BCP should consist of the following:

1 РAnalysis– This process involves A) evaluating the impact to your business in the event of a catastrophe (or “Impact Analysis”), B) the threat of the event occurring (or “Threat Analysis”) and, C) the scenarios that should be included in your recovery plan (or “Impact Scenarios”).

For example;

A proper impact analysis would help to rate critical VS. non-critical business functions AND how long can the business be without these functions: (i.e. How important is email or phone connectivity compared to inventory files, or last year’s tax filing information?)

A proper threat analysis would help to indicate the exposure or risks that your business is subject to (i.e. what is the likelihood of a flood or tornado, and how bad would the business be affected if these events occurred?)

Proper impact scenarios would help the plan author identify the result of the threat and the associated response (i.e. “In the event of a flood, customers would be notified prior to the event that business will be conducted from our North office. Backup drives will be removed and restored at the alternate location…”).

2 РSolution Design – Which solution is the most cost effective based on the requirements identified during the Analysis phase? Critical components of an IT BCP solution are typically Data Storage Capability and Mean Time to Recover (or the time needed to re-establish the solution and accompanying data).

3- Implementation – The execution of the BCP design itself either in test or actual scenarios.

4 – Testing and Organizational AdoptionDon’t wait for the event to occur before trying out the plan! Rehearse your response by restoring data archives (being mindful of production systems) or by planning a work-from-home day for employees. Visit or activate alternate business sites to ensure continuity of systems and processes. These are but a few examples.

5 – Maintain and Update – conduct frequent reviews of your plan with all parties involved (staff, contractors, third-party vendors, etc.) to ensure the procedures contained are still relevant and to allow for updates based on new threats or impacts identified. Other updates may be administrative in nature, but are no-less important. These include: changes in staff, vendors, clients, business intent, etc.

Being Prepared…

NFL football great Roger Staughbach once said: “In business or in football, it takes a lot of unspectacular preparation to produce spectacular results‚Ķ“. While the business of BCP may seem laborious and unnecessary, you must ask yourself how well you are prepared to face one or more catastrophic impacts to your business, and how important a thorough and expeditious recovery is to you, your clients, your family etc. Within these answers should lay the foundation of your own plan.

About ComResource

ComResource, Inc., founded in 1991, is a privately-owned and operated IT Solutions Provider. ComResource has helped Small and Medium Businesses all over the country with their Business Continuity Planning (BCP) and other IT initiatives. ComResource is a recognized Microsoft Gold Partner in addition to partnerships and affiliations with Cisco, Toshiba, Lenovo, Citrix and others. ComResource employs a simple philosophy of treating Clients, Partners and Employees as you would like to be treated. It is through this approach that ComResource has assisted clients in their day-to-day business and IT needs. More information on ComResource is available at

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