Best business practices, Part II

Disaster Recovery Plan

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

sky diving

A Disaster Recovery Plan (sometimes referred to as a Business Continuity Plan) is a necessary element of any business.

The purpose of such a plan is to prepare your business, staff and infrastructure for the event of a major disruption of business and getting back on track as quickly and effectively as possible.

Having an effective and meaningful business continuity plan is particularly important in a business controlling data or funds of clients.

Any worthwhile plan will be written, thorough and tested. 

Best practices teaches us that if your plan is not written down, then it does not exist. It is that simple. Actually writing the steps of your plan down will help highlight holes or flaws.

Above all, the plan must be thorough.

In his article, 12 Attributes of a Successful Business Continuity Plan, Michael J. Corby emphasizes that a business continuity plan is one of the four basic components of an organizations’ risk management strategy.

While a business continuity plan used to be as simple as deciding where to set up shop if there were a fire or flood in the brick and mortar structure, there is a much higher standard now—as there should be. Considerations include all manner of disaster or coincidental occurrence, from area blizzard or flood, bombing, electrical failure, to the death of a key employee. After all manner of risks have been assessed, then all manner of critical business functions must be identified.

Finally, a written plan and contingencies for each possible incident must be identified for carrying out all critical business functions.

The entire plan can be complicated, as it works as one long “if – then” statement. Ultimately no plan matters unless personnel understand it, and that only happens upon periodic review and testing.

Unfortunately, testing can be time consuming and costly.   It will usually cause some disruption in business. Nevertheless, aspects of a business continuity plan should be tested and reviewed each year, with records kept on the results.

This does not just apply to debt collection practices. Many of the best known data companies, such as AT&T, have well-documented industry briefs on their business continuity plans.

To borrow the line, and paraphrase:  Much like a parachute, a disaster recovery plan is one of the only mechanisms in your office that you should work diligently to keep in perfect working condition, only to hope you never have to pull it out of the package.

Drop by next week for Better Business Practices, Part III on vendor management!


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