How to audit business continuity programs

Being able to continue critical business functions while responding to a major disaster, and then to return to normal operations efficiently and cohesively afterward, is a critical success factor for all organizations. Effective business continuity (BCP) and disaster recovery (DR) programs are vital and have become a necessary cost of doing business. They must receive adequate attention and support from management if the company is to survive and remain competitive in a post-disaster situation.

The purpose of these programs is to prepare the organization to cope more effectively with major disruption. Program managers plan possible responses in advance of the actual incident(s) rather than simply responding in the heat of the moment. This planning increases the quality and consistency of the response regardless of the person who executes the plan.

The programs must cope with a wide variety of potential incidents, from man-made disasters such as power-grid or other critical infrastructure failures to natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, or fires. Simple incidents also can have huge consequences, so don’t under-plan; for example, expect that your staff won’t make it to work due to an ice storm. It is an unfortunate fact of life that, despite our best efforts, some disasters are simply unavoidable. The quality of an organization’s response to such a crisis can make the difference between its survival and its demise.

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