Business continuity planning is an important part of strategic planning and long-term risk mitigation. Continuity planning focuses on those risks that may be relatively unlikely to manifest themselves but will have catastrophic, potentially company-ending impacts if they do occur.
In previous posts, we discussed the concept of business continuity from a high level and then talked about how to identify specific risks that are applicable to your company and your industry and how to develop a plan to address those risks. Here, we’ll take a look at how to train your staff on your business mitigation plan.
Identify Key Staff
Whether they are in IT, operations, legal, HR, marketing, or any other function, there are key staff that need to be included in your disaster recovery training.
Identifying those people should be fairly straightforward by considering the plan itself. If it involves quickly replacing key staff, HR should be included. If it relates to workplace infrastructure, your facility’s team members should be involved.
But, although identifying the right participants may seem straightforward, don’t treat this as a cursory exercise. Take time to think critically about everyone who should be included in training for a given risk.
Create Drilling Scenarios
Actually practicing continuity is a great strategy. Task a group within your organization with developing realistic and relevant drilling scenarios based on your identified risks and mitigation plans, and then drill key staff in those scenarios.
This doesn’t have to involve anything fancy or complicated. You can simply get everyone in a room, relay the hypothetical scenario, and run through the next steps and decision.
Offering an opportunity to consider various “what if” scenarios not only provides a foundation for how to respond in an actual situation but also helps instill a sense of confidence among staff that they would be able to respond in real-world events and situations.
You can’t prepare for, or anticipate, every possible situation, of course—but that’s okay. The value of drilling is to provide practice, which builds confidence.
Be as Spontaneous as Possible
Your key staff are busy, simply because they are key staff. But to the extent possible, make your continuity drills spontaneous. This may mean scheduling an hour-long continuity drill on everyone’s calendar a day in advance, for example.
After all, actual incidents don’t generally come with a warning. Continuity drills should follow that same approach.
Embed Continuity Training into the Company Culture
You may have a handful of key employees tasked with specific responsibilities when it comes to continuity, but continuity is in the interest of all of your employees.
“When an organization has a continuity culture, its employees constantly ask themselves the question: How do we ensure that this process, application, or function will remain available (even in a degraded state) in case of a disaster?” says Richard Long of MHA Consulting.
Business continuity planning is often overlooked. It’s easy to get lost in day-to-day activities and lose sight of long-term risks and needs. In these posts, we’ve discussed the basic concept of business continuity planning, how to identify the risks that face your specific business, how to plan to mitigate those risks, and how to train staff on those mitigation plans.