The devastating impact of downtime on your business should never be underestimated. One Gartner study found that the average cost of IT downtime is roughly $5,600 a minute, but can be as much as $540,000 per hour depending on how large the IT scope of a business is. As businesses become more reliant on digital technology, downtime is a big concern.

There are means of mitigating that vulnerability, however. A successful business continuity plan can help you reduce downtime associated with unforeseen circumstances and maintain regular business operations during emergency situations.

Here, we’re going to explore what a business continuity plan is and five ways it can drastically reduce your downtime.

What is a business continuity plan and why is it important?

It’s likely many businesses know what a business continuity plan is after witnessing a major shift to remote work and changes in the global economy in recent years. 

But data shows that a whopping quarter of companies are just now developing their first business continuity plans, meaning there are still many businesses unprepared for emergency situations. So if your business didn’t have one before, now is the time to establish a business continuity plan that can see you through unexpected interruptions.

As an overview, a business continuity plan is a proactive measure that ensures your business knows the exact steps to take in the event of IT interruptions and crises. These can include power outages, network failures, malware attacks, natural disasters, and more. 

A business continuity plan ensures that each department in your organization understands incident response procedures and that the maximum possible operational capacity needed to respond to a crisis efficiently is outlined.  

Here are five ways your business continuity plan can reduce downtime and protect your company in times of crisis:

1. It highlights company risks and weaknesses and suggests patches.

Nearly 6 billion accounts were targeted in data breaches last year according to a report from Atlas VPN. In the US alone, there were over 1,800 data compromises in 2022, making it clear that most businesses still have many threats they need to address to prevent downtime and other damages. 

Luckily, part of developing a business continuity plan is performing a full risk assessment, which means taking a closer look at your IT infrastructure, processes, and tools and analyzing their security and efficiency. 

With this assessment, you can identify risks and weaknesses in your IT system that could lead to downtime. From there, your IT provider can suggest solutions to patch these vulnerabilities and reduce downtime risk. Conducting regular assessments helps your business continually identify and patch new weaknesses and defend against both security and downtime threats.

2. It can help you take full advantage of cloud solutions.

While every continuity plan will be different, to speak to the risks and needs that must be addressed on an individual basis, some strategies are common in IT downtime reduction. 

One of those strategies is making better use of the cloud. Cloud storage and solutions can allow teams to continue their work even when they lose access to in-house servers or networks, allowing businesses to work flexibly around IT crises. The cloud can also provide many security benefits and is also extremely conducive to remote working. 

3. It ensures you are performing regular data backups.

Cloud storage is just one example that shows how essential it is to have access to files when an IT crisis emerges. If you can only rely on one piece of software, hardware, or one network to do your work, your workflow is all too easy to interrupt. 

With regular data backups, you can ensure your data remains accessible and secure at all times. Data backups protect against data loss, which is, unfortunately, a highly common side effect in many emergency situations. 

4. It reduces panic.

An interruption to standard business operations or environments can have major impacts on your staff. Without a continuity plan that lays out exact steps and response procedures, it’s likely that your team will experience greater levels of panic or uncertainty, causing them to respond inappropriately.

As a business, your customers rely on you to stay calm and collected during emergency situations and have a plan to protect their information and your operations. A continuity plan ensures that there is an orderly, organized response at the ready for each department in your organization to follow and that every person knows their role in dealing with an IT crisis.

5. It outlines the quickest route to recovery.

One of the primary functions of a business continuity plan is that, through an assessment and simulation testing, it identifies and outlines the quickest ways to restore normal functions. While using backups to mitigate the damage of downtime is important, outlining recovery procedures to help get your business back up and running to full capacity is also critical. 

By immediately responding to a crisis with pre-planned troubleshooting steps, it increases the chance of cutting your downtime significantly.

Implement a Business Continuity Plan Today

If you want to reduce downtime in your own business, better adapt to current emergency circumstances, and prepare for the future, establishing a well-developed business continuity plan is the next step.

Partner with a reliable IT services company to begin a risk assessment today and being developing your business continuity plan. An IT provider can ensure not only that downtime is prevented, but that unique business needs are addressed in your plan and that security risks are well accounted for and mitigated. 

Business Continuity Planning is a journey! Take the steps now to implement a business continuity plan today to protect your business from the effects of downtime and other threats. Learn more here!