Written by: Daniel Haurey on 03/28/24

Those organizations operating in regulated industries face additional complexity when tackling a business continuity strategy. Regulatory compliance and business continuity planning demand specific steps regarding data protection, backup, access control, and data retention—just to name a few components.

Compliance mandates come from myriad sources—the government, industry regulators, and even internal corporate controls. While standards vary greatly, one common theme is data protection. Nearly all mandates focus on securing sensitive data, whether it’s medical information, personal identification data, financials, intellectual property, or payment data. Not only must organizations secure the information, but they must also be able to account for its location and movement using detailed logs and records. In many cases, data must be retained and accessible, and a natural disaster does not get you off the hook.

Because of the high number of business continuity risks in regulated industries, any organization in those verticals must keep compliance mandates front and center as they create both their business continuity strategy and data backup and recovery plan. “We lost that sensitive information in the flood” is not what you want to say during a compliance audit.  

Common Challenges Businesses Face to Achieve Compliant Business Continuity

As you create a compliance-aware business continuity plan, there are several fundamental components to consider.

Data availability: Regulations often mandate specific data retention periods and accessibility requirements. Failure to meet these due to a system outage or data loss can lead to hefty fines for non-compliance. Be sure your business continuity documentation captures the processes, solutions, and reporting details about your data backup and restoration plan, assurances that data remains accessible and compliant even during chaos.

Timely reporting: Many regulatory agencies demand prompt reporting of incidents or data breaches. Include those agencies in priority communications during an outage or disaster and include additional notes about sharing updates during disruptions.

Continuity of processes: Regulatory compliance often hinges on adherence to processes and procedures. Your business continuity plans should ensure critical processes remain operational during disruptions, which can mean a series of alternative methods or contingency plans depending on the type and breadth of the interruption.

Documentation: Detailed audits and documentation illustrating compliance are fundamental elements of most compliance mandates. Disasters or other downtime events can interrupt this reporting, making it difficult to maintain logs during disruptions.

Data protection: Compliance standards demand you protect sensitive information. Your business continuity strategy should address potential security vulnerabilities introduced during disruptions and document how data remains protected even during recovery efforts.

Human error: Even the best employees can make mistakes, especially during disruptions. Thoroughly training employees for compliance means not only explaining business continuity procedures but also the critical nature of maintaining compliance standards during a disaster.

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Incorporating Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) Into Business Continuity Planning

When you integrate governance, risk, and compliance best practices into your business resiliency strategy, you are creating a baseline awareness of the key components of business continuity that support adherence to most regulatory standards. Governance addresses processes and documentation, including reporting, that most compliance mandates require. Risk assessment helps you consider threats from every angle, from inconvenient outages to overwhelming disasters. Questioning compliance needs at each step of your planning process keeps standards front and center as you ideate your plan and helps ensure the involvement of stakeholders who may otherwise be overlooked, such as legal and auditing staff.

Regardless of your industry, testing and maintaining business continuity plans is essential to having a reliable, effective strategy. However, those organizations in highly regulated business verticals must remember to consistently vet their plan against the evolving compliance landscape to ensure alignment. 

Leaning on a managed IT services provider with a deep understanding of compliance mandates will help your organization close technology gaps that may lead to non-adherence with regulations. A trustworthy MSP should play a key role in remaining current on compliance mandates that impact technology solutions such as data backup, access control, data retention, reporting, cybersecurity, and more. By leveraging that partner’s expertise, your organization can identify the best compliant solutions for your business and align business continuity plans accordingly.

Looking for compliant backup and recovery solutions?  Our Prevent BDR solutions, enabled by cloud computing, are a fit for organizations of all sizes.

Exigent has nearly three decades supporting clients in regulated industries. Let’s talk about how we can help create a compliant, resilient technology environment for your organization. Schedule a meeting