Monday, July 8, 2013

Business Continuity Planning in practice

One never expects (or hopes) to use insurance. But it's vital that it's there, in case it's needed.

A month ago, on 8 June, my great friend and colleague Barry Brown died unexpectedly at age 42 while playing basketball. Read more.

Barry had been responsible for much of the technical design and production (writing software) of several of our company's products and his loss is a huge blow professionally, as well as indescribably personally.

So, we're currently testing our Business Continuity Planning in practice. We're too small to have had a fully-worked staff team and cyclical planning process! But we're so grateful that we're not just thinking about these issues for the first time and with hindsight.

  • We have a practice of continually assessing risk (What's the Impact? What's the Probability? Plan appropriately for the resulting Priority combining the Severity of Impact * Probability)
  • And we hadn't stopped there: we had determined the importance of having regular backups and documentation and access to business-critical information like passwords, software license keys, recovery keys, and more.
  • We were able to gain access to everything not in Barry's head within a very short time; and have continued to tighten procedures in the light of our experience. For example, we've now established another internal shared documentation space that everyone can contribute to and access easily if the need arises.
  • We've got multiple redundant hardware resources; geographically dispersed staff; multiple on-site and off-site backups; and a routine to keep things in sync ...
But our realisation is that recovery still takes time. One month on, we're still in business when others would have been derailed by something this severe. We're acquiring new customers. We've got new staff resources in place. We're almost back to production, albeit at slower pace for now. 

And we're wiser and still more prepared. That's probably the best we can hope for right now.

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