What Is an IT Service Continuity Plan?

First of all, what is business continuity management? Well, it simply refers to the advanced process of planning and preparation of an organization so that they can immediately resume their whole operations or just enable continuity of their basic business functions in the wake of a disaster. Business continuity management also entails risk assessment procedures that can hamper the business operations, such as cybersecurity attacks, natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes, and criminal acts.

An IT Service continuity plan is a business document that contains a collection of policies, standards, procedures, and tools that help organizations in their ability to not only respond to major system failures but also strengthen their fortitude to major incidents, helping to ensure that vital systems and services do not fail or are restored inside allowable process recovery time objective limits.

What’s Inside an IT Service Continuity Plan?

Here are the important factors that should be present when creating an IT service continuity plan, or any kind of business continuity plan:

IT Architecture. This is usually the first main part to be included in the IT service continuity plan. An information technology architecture is a thorough description of the many information-processing assets required to accomplish business objectives, as well as the rules that govern them and the data connected with them. It focuses on three main layers inside the organization: the server (which refers to the hardware), the middleware (which refers to the software), and the client (which can be a combination of hardware and software).Duties and Priorities. A coherent command structure is critical if a business wants to quickly recover from a disaster. The members of the business continuity team are identified in a continuity plan, together with a full explanation of their roles, duties, and actions. In addition, it outlines a system for making key choices or escalating duties in the event of a significant crisis. The plan must also highlight the essential staff who must be available from the start. This includes the company’s top executives, sales and customer service teams, and production-planning professionals.Risks and Impact. Any business continuity plan must address the internal and external threats that your company encounters. These range from large-scale events like hurricanes, fires, or floods to other types of incidents like fraud, telecommunications outages, computer infections, or supply-chain challenges. The plan outlines a risk assessment, an estimate of the probable repercussions of each sort of disaster, and the impact on business continuity. It detects any risk-prevention or risk-mitigation procedures in place.Communication. During business disruptions, clear communication is critical. Effective communication throughout your organization may encourage team members and give them the confidence that the organization is responding and recovering effectively. Far outside your company, strong communication is also essential for liaising with suppliers and consumers and reducing unhappiness.The Response. A complete and effective business continuity plan should gather each type of risk that was identified in the business impact assessment process and establish an appropriate reaction strategy to either mitigate or eliminate it entirely. These precise plans will specify who needs to be involved and describe the action that is to be taken in order to carry out the activity. Timetables and resources, such as laptop computers, alternate warehouse space, and mobile phones, should also be established to enable a timely and meaningful response.Key Contacts. A business continuity plan would often include a list of essential contacts as well as templates of news releases and social media postings in order for staff to effectively communicate throughout a disruption. Having these in place ahead of time can help speed up communication during a crisis and guarantee that both your personnel and external contacts are updated regularly. In bigger organizations, a separate communication strategy that provides a complete approach to communication throughout a problem may be required.Damage Assessment. This component of the business continuity plan refers to the process of determining the nature and how severe the loss is, what suffering it brought to the business and any harm to the business that resulted from a disaster or a disruption. This part usually provides situational awareness and essential data on the type of the event, the scope of the event, and the severity of the event.Escalation Process flowchart. An escalation process flow in a business continuity plan is a collection of processes in place to deal with possible problems in a range of circumstances. The escalation process flowchart also explains the organizational boundaries and decision-making mechanisms in order to handle the problem promptly and clearly. Most significantly, this process flow specifies a way that allows the main team to make choices at lower levels while still having a specified approach for handling exceptions.Recovery Procedures. This part of the business continuity plan should explain the procedure concerning the backup of data, its replication, and its recovery. Data replication is especially important because it enables the system to maintain identical data sets in redundant locations by simply copying them. This part should also highlight how to maintain data confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Standard operating procedures on how to recover critical networks and systems should also be included in this section.Testing. Training and testing are required to guarantee that the business recovery teams can carry out their tasks. The continuity plan comprises a thorough training schedule as well as dates for frequent recovery procedure rehearsals. This is important to have since an emergency plan might quickly become obsolete. Risks evolve and new risks develop, most notably in the information technology industry, where cyber criminals’ attacks have gotten more sophisticated. This section of the continuity plan should also designate a team member to update the recovery processes.

What Are the Types of IT Security Threats?

Listed below are some of the most common types of security threats that can be jeopardizing the operations of an IT system:

Phishing attacks. This type of IT security threat uses social engineering to fool users into violating standard security protocols and disclosing personal information such as names, addresses, login passwords, and other financial information. Most of the time, hackers send out bogus emails that appear to be from reputable sources, such as financial institutions or even friends and coworkers. Phishing attacks are particularly effective on users who don’t have much knowledge of how IT systems work since hackers seek to persuade users to perform a certain action, such as clicking on links in emails that send them to bogus websites that request personal information or installing malware on their devices.Ransomware. In a ransomware attack, the victim’s system is locked, usually by encryption, preventing the victim from accessing the device or anything saved on it. To reclaim access to the system or data, the victim must pay the hacker a ransom, which is usually in the form of digital currencies such as Bitcoin. Malicious email attachments, corrupted software programs, infected external storage devices, and infiltrated websites may all be used to transmit ransomware.Malicious Advertising. Malvertising, often known as malicious advertising, is a method used by hackers to inject harmful code into genuine online advertising networks and websites. Typically, this code links people to dangerous web pages or installs malware on their computers or smartphones. Even if users do not click on something to initiate the download, their devices may get infected. Malvertising may be used by cybercriminals to distribute a range of money-making software, such as crypto-mining scripts, ransomware, and banking trojans.Insider Threats. An insider threat happens when persons close to a company who have approved access to the network purposefully or inadvertently exploit that ability to harm the company’s essential data or systems. Insider threats are caused by careless workers who do not follow their businesses’ business rules and procedures. In other circumstances, insiders willfully circumvent security measures for the sake of convenience or in an ill-advised attempt to become more efficient.Distributed denial-of-service attacks. This type of IT security threat involves numerous compromised devices attacking a target, such as a server, website, or other network resources, rendering the target unworkable. The deluge of connection requests, incoming messages, or malformed packets causes the target system to slow down or crash and shut down, depriving genuine users or systems of service.

Steps in Creating a Continuity Plan

As stated earlier, an IT service continuity plan helps the employees in the IT industry be prepared with a plan in place to negate any loss or damages that may be incurred during a disruption or a disaster. With that being said, here are the steps to create an effective continuity plan.

  • 1. Performing a Review of Regulations

    This step is what happens first when creating a continuity plan. Here, you need to find out if your IT service company must comply with any standards imposed by federal or international agencies, state authorities, or any type of legislation that is specific to your industry. Additionally, you need to perform a check to determine whether your company has to follow any external criteria from investors, partners, or auditors to verify that your business continuity plan is totally valid across the board.

  • 2. Performing a Risk Assessment

    After performing a thorough review of the regulations in your area regarding continuity plans, proceed to this step. In this step, you have to conduct a risk assessment on your IT service business in this stage to identify and prioritize possible business risks and interruptions based on severity and chance of occurrence. The purpose of the risk assessment is to categorize risks that are tolerable and risks that you would like to take action against, whether by minimizing them, developing contingency plans, or leaving them alone. You must evaluate corporate culture, cost, and any other possible issues that may arise if you choose to follow a plan.

  • 3. Performing a Business Impact Analysis

    After performing a risk assessment, this step will follow. In this step, you should go over each of your IT service company’s divisions individually to understand the functions and tools that are important to them. This data gathered during the analysis is extremely useful in defining recovery points and recovery time targets for important functions. In this step, you should also establish internal and external requirements, as well as identify important employees and backup employees that possess comparable skill sets with the main employees. This stage is critical because it allows you to establish the highest amount of downtime your organization can tolerate.

  • 4. Developing the Continuity Plan

    Once the risk assessment and the impact analysis have been completed, time to proceed to this step. In this part of the process, you need to consider your overall strategy and the creation of your continuity plan for your service. The formulation of plans for each department, division, and site-level contingency requires a summary of your risk assessment and business impact analysis results. Each strategy should be designed to account for the greatest amount of downtime that each function can sustain. And once you’ve developed your strategy, it’s critical to discuss it with key organizational stakeholders in order to secure executive approval, if necessary.

  • 5. Testing of the Continuity Plan

    After developing the continuity plan for your IT service business, it’s time to test it. The ideal strategy in this stage is to provide frequent employee training classes with tabletop and simulation activities to guarantee the business is adequately trained in the event of a disruption. It is also a good idea to have your plan, business impact analysis, and risk assessments reviewed by an external, qualified business continuity specialist on a yearly basis to ensure that new threats and business operational processes are appropriately represented in your plans. The continuity plan should be a living document that is updated on a regular basis to reflect the current state of affairs.


Should an IT service plan be communicated to the members or not?

Yes, it should be communicated since communication is essential to guarantee that all stakeholders are kept up to date at all times. In fact, some companies include this as their final step in creating the continuity plan. In this process, they disseminate it to all relevant individuals, both internally and outside, as well as to provide continuing revisions to the continuity plan when they become ready. They also notify any vendors or third-party stakeholders who have a role in the continuity plan or the parties that will be affected by it.

What role does the service continuity manager play?

The role of the service continuity manager is to be in charge of ensuring service continuity. This individual is generally in charge of the entire process, from start to finish, leading plan formulation, coordinating continuous monitoring and evaluation operations, and supervising plans in action in the event of a disaster. Additionally, this individual is often an accomplished, senior-level technical support worker, but maybe in a managerial position and not directly dealing with the technology on a daily basis.

What are the advantages of having an IT service continuity plan?

Having an IT service continuity plan in place can be useful since organizations with comprehensive disaster recovery plans recover faster and more completely in the event of a disaster. Another benefit of this document is that the company is constantly prepared for a catastrophic crisis and has the ability to respond promptly and appropriately.

When you manage to create a solid and effective continuity plan for your IT service business, it enables your company to have greater reaction times and greater confidence when they react to disruptions that can suddenly happen. Having this document can also significantly reduce downtime during disruptions. In this article, there are various examples that can help you when you want to create a continuity plan by yourself.