Business continuity planning (BCP) is the creation and validation of a practiced logistical plan for how an organization will recover and restore partially or completely interrupted critical functions within a predetermined time after a disaster or extended disruption. The logistical plan is called a business continuity plan.

Hence, BCP is the phenomenon by which a company plans out, how to stay in business in the event of disaster. Incidents include local incidents like building fires, regional incidents like earthquakes, or national incidents like pandemic illnesses. The company has a formal printed manual available for reference before, during, and after disruptions have occurred.

In 2007, the British Standards Institution published another standard part for BCP, BS 25999-2 “Specification for Business Continuity Management”, that specifies requirements for implementing, operating and improving a documented Business Continuity Management System (BCMS).

BCP methodology is useful for any organization of but adopted by only regulated industries. However every organization should have one in order to ensure the organization’s longevity. It is evident that firms do not invest enough time and resources into BCP preparations are sufferer in disaster survival statistics. According to a research study, fires permanently close 44% of the business affected. In the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, 150 businesses out of 350 affected failed to survive the event. Whereas, the firms affected by the Sept. 11 attacks with well-developed and tested BCP manuals were back in business within days.

For a small organization, BCP manual may be simply a printed manual, containing full details of crisis management staff, general staff members, clients, and vendors along with the location of the offsite data backup storage media, copies of insurance contracts, and other critical materials necessary for organizational survival.

For most complex organizations, a BCP manual may outline a secondary work site, technical requirements and readiness, regulatory reporting requirements, work recovery measures. They should have all the documents for the reestablishment of physical records, a new supply chain, or new production centers.

The development of a BCP manual can have five main phases:
1. Analysis: study of various impacts and threat, its consequences.
2. Solution design: to identify the most cost effective disaster recovery solution
3. Implementation: execution of the design elements identified in the solution design phase
4. Testing and organization acceptance means to achieve organizational acceptance that the business continuity solution satisfies the organization’s recovery requirements
5. Maintenance: divided into three activities,
a)    the confirmation of information in the manual, roll out to all staff for awareness and specific training for individuals whose roles are identified as critical in response and recovery.
b)    the testing and verification of technical solutions established for recovery operations.
c)    the testing and verification of documented organization recovery procedures.

Microsoft’s Business Continuity Solutions
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 provides the most robust business continuity platform, delivering proven technologies like Network Load Balancing and Clustering as part of the operating system. It also provides support for a wide range of industry-leading, shared-storage solutions to deliver Quick and Live Migration along with partner cross-site data management and data replication technologies.

IBM – COOP Systems
IBM Business Continuity and Resiliency Services is working with COOP Systems headquartered in Herndon, VA to provide business continuity management software namely myCOOP. With a reputation for no risk deployments, low costs, and ease-of-use for all types of users, myCOOP is the next generation of business continuity software.

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