Businesses of all sizes require a current, tested business continuity (BC) plan that outlines how they will respond to a major disruption. However, smaller organizations often lack the time, expertise and budget to create and administer such a plan in-house. Partnering with a managed services provider is a great way to make effective preparations while preserving limited resources.

According to the jobs and recruiting website Glassdoor, experienced business continuity managers in the U.S. command an average salary of $102,000. Small to midsized businesses (SMBs) typically can’t afford six-figure salaries for such a specialized position, so they frequently make BC a do-it-yourself operation. This often involves assigning the most tech-savvy person on staff to make sure data backups are being conducted with some degree of regularity.

Backup and recovery are essential operations, but that’s not near enough to ensure rapid recovery from significant business disruptions. Beyond data protection, a thorough BC plan addresses offsite data storage, facilities management, human safety, risk management, personnel policies, intellectual property and internal communication procedures.

The BC plan should also prioritize business functions according to which must be back in operation first, assigning each a recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO). The RTO is the allowable amount of downtime before the function is brought back online, while the RPO is the allowable amount of data loss since the last backup.

A plan must include an assessment of the threat landscape and the identification of strengths and weaknesses across the organization. In addition to technological considerations, the roles and responsibilities of key personnel before, during and after an incident should be clarified to ensure that the BC plan is properly executed. The final steps involve choosing the best model and solution to meet recovery goals and maintain security, and educating staff about the procedures to follow in case of an outage.

Industry surveys repeatedly show that smaller organizations find formal BC planning to be an overly complex process for creating what amounts to an insurance policy they may never use. They are reluctant to invest in offsite IT infrastructure that will sit idle until needed.

Much of this mindset stems from the unfortunate misperception that BC plans are only necessary in the aftermath of catastrophic but highly uncommon events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and fires.  The truth is that far more mundane events such as application failures, power outages and plumbing leaks are much more likely to disrupt business operations.

A managed services provider (MSP) can help you develop a BC plan that addresses all manner of potential business disruptions, for much less than the cost of a dedicated BC manager. Your MSP can also help ensure your plan is regularly tested. Too often, a business will create a plan but fail to test or update it for months or years. Significant changes to the business during that span will create unexpected risk. Your MSP can help you revise the plan as needed to address any changes to your operational or technology processes.

A well-structured business continuity plan can help a business survive a range of disasters, but BC planning does require expertise. IPC has years of real-world experience with disaster recovery and data backup solutions that provide the basis for a best-practices approach to BC planning. We can help you develop a plan to ensure you can bounce back from a disruption while minimizing the risk of lost revenue or lost data.