"While it may seem obvious that a comprehensive business-continuity plan begins with professional help, some companies still think one shoe fits all and many more simply don't know where to begin," said Kerry Bailey, senior vice president - global services, Verizon Business. "Because enterprises today are often global and operate round-the-clock, a multidimensional approach is required. It's no longer enough to simply plan for a single event, or merely back up your data."
Verizon Business is the only North American-based global communications provider recognized for its business-continuity capabilities by the British Standards Institute. In 2008, BSI Management Systems accepted Verizon Business into its Associate Consultant Program for BS 25999, a global standard for business-continuity management.
(Note: A Verizon Business white paper discussing business-continuity management best practices is available here.)
In addition to reminding enterprises that a tailored business-continuity management (BCM) plan starts with professional consulting, Verizon Business offers the following considerations for businesses building or upgrading their BCM programs:
- Executive sponsorship. Senior leaders should champion business continuity within their organizations.
- Multidisciplined team. Business continuity is not an IT-only endeavor. Representatives across an organization should have a seat at the table.
- Risk assessment. Understand your organization's potential exposure and tolerance for uncertainty.
- Business impact assessment. Quantified analysis of all critical processes and systems is essential. Special focus should be given to recovery-time objectives (maximum amount of time within which a function must be restored to avoid unacceptable damage) and recovery-point objectives (maximum amount of acceptable data loss after an incident, as measured in time). In addition, network and security assessments should be performed on critical applications and processes.
- Strategy development. Develop and document recovery strategies based on corresponding recovery objectives.
- Plan development and implementation. Invest in automated planning tools. Conduct regular plan reviews, tests and refreshes. Update business-continuity plans annually.
Additionally, businesses should take into consideration the types of events that can disrupt business. This provides a baseline to begin assessing impacts and formulating a strategy for mitigating the effects of each potential threat. Hazards come in many forms but can be broken down into three basic categories:
- Facilities Infrastructure. Events that affect facilities include natural hazards such as floods, hurricanes and forest fires; human-caused events such as chemical spills, terrorist attacks and power outages; and geographic events that damage transport infrastructure, such as train derailments and bridge failures. These types of events tend to be large in scale and often come with little warning. While they may be the central driver of the solution, they should not be the sole focus.
- Workforce Continuity: Events that include pandemic diseases and employee loss due to death, layoff or illness. These incidences generally involve personnel-related disruptions that can be broad and devastating, especially if they affect key personnel who possess critical knowledge or skills. Organizations need to assess which skills are needed to sustain critical processes, where they are located and how readily they can be redirected to maintain continuity.
- IT Infrastructure: These types of incidents have long been at the heart of disaster recovery and include hardware failure, software errors, security events and human error. BCM in this area needs to address the complete business-information flow and the entire critical infrastructure that supports it, to ensure appropriate plans are in place.
"The range of potential threats is broad, and global extended enterprises must be prepared to respond on a moment's notice," said Michael Marcellin, vice president - global managed services, Verizon. "The time to plan is before disruptive events occur. Verizon's comprehensive portfolio of business-continuity professional services and advanced communications tools offer large-business and government customers the ability to craft effective business-continuity strategies."
Comprehensive Business-Continuity Portfolio Helps Safeguard Businesses, Governments
Verizon Business offers a comprehensive suite of leading business-continuity solutions. Professional consulting services, designed to assess and address critical recovery challenges, include business-impact-and-risk analyses, network assessments, gap analyses and recovery strategies, as well as plan development, implementation and life-cycle management services.
The company also offers Verizon Notification Services, a fully automated service that enables communication of time-sensitive information to customers, partners, employees and other key stakeholders via a broad range of wireline and wireless devices. In addition, Verizon Communications Interoperability Solution -- an IP-based platform that integrates radio, as well as voice, data and wireless networks so that they can operate as a single network -- enables better communications among diverse federal, state and local public safety organizations.
The Verizon Business portfolio also includes continuity-planning software, virtual file-sharing, storage replication and restoration services and a full complement of managed information-technology services to help enhance enterprise resilience.
Additionally, Verizon Business, using its global IP network as a solid and resilient foundation for communications, offers advanced telework, conferencing, collaboration and contact center capabilities for deployment as part of a comprehensive business-continuity plan. These collaborative tools enable organizations to effectively communicate virtually anywhere at any time, helping to increase response time and productivity, and reduce downtime from major events that affect businesses.
About Verizon Business
Verizon Business, a unit of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ), is a global leader in communications and IT solutions. We combine professional expertise with the world's most connected IP network to deliver award-winning communications, IT, information security and network solutions. We securely connect today's extended enterprises of widespread and mobile customers, partners, suppliers and employees - enabling them to increase productivity and efficiency and help preserve the environment. Many of the world's largest businesses and governments - including 96 percent of the Fortune 1000 and thousands of government agencies and educational institutions - rely on our professional and managed services and network technologies to accelerate their business. Find out more at www.verizonbusiness.com.