Business continuity is mission critical. Without a plan for what happens should systems go down, or if disaster strikes, it could cost your business a small fortune.
When we think of potential disasters, we often imagine war, earthquakes or terrorism. We don’t often consider the more mundane, which is why many businesses are unprepared for the consequences of servers going down, a power cut or human error that disrupts your network.
When you don’t plan for these sorts of incidents you risk losing money as a result of downtime and the prolonged impact of not being able to get on with basic activities. Productivity takes a nosedive, orders can’t be processed, accounts can’t be accessed and employees sit at their desks twiddling their thumbs. Businesses suffer and, although this may sound dramatic, can potentially collapse when downtime is unplanned. It takes time to get up and running again, especially if you have no business continuity plan.
Putting a dedicated business continuity (BC) plan together and having an IT provider ready to implement should anything happen, is a valuable form of practical insurance that every business should have. BC should always be managed externally, with a trusted outsource partner, since the impact of any incident will be internal. When putting this plan together make sure it includes the following:
#1: Regular BC plan reviews
Businesses change and evolve. Staff change, new job functions are created. Different IT systems and software are introduced. No business is the same one year to the next, which is why your BC plan shouldn’t remain static. A BC plan should evolve with the business, to reflect new processes, team members and IT systems and infrastructure.
As a minimum, your BC plan needs updating every 12 months. Recovering quickly from the unexpected involves ensuring that critical systems go back online first, particularly those that support other systems. Communication systems are often the most important, to ensure staff can contact one another and speak to customers. Once mission-critical systems are online and staff can access the most important files from the server, then a BC plan would involve getting other (less important) systems back online and working again.
#2: Staff support with resources and training
Do your staff know how to act in the event of disaster striking?
Businesses need a process in place. Without a process – a set of policies staff can action – your team may struggle to cope under difficult circumstances. Whereas, when you give them a plan of action, resources and training – which your BC partner should organise – they will be empowered and can confidently take action.
#3: Daily data backups and server login tests
Every day, businesses generate new data. Every company produces vast amounts of it on a regular basis, whether its emails, reports, attachments, financial excels, and countless other documents. Unless this is backed-up on a daily basis, you risk losing vital information in the event of an IT incident.
A dedicated BC partner should back this data up – everything on internal servers, hard drives and devices – on a daily basis. To ensure this is successful, and accessible when you need it, your outsourced BC partner should login to the servers and check the backups every day. These daily checks and tests are essential to ensure that everything is working correctly and data is secure.
#4: Recovery event simulations
Twice a year we recommend that you run simulations to check, in the event of an incident, how quickly systems and data can be back up and running. This is a service we provide our clients and the benefit is that we can enhance processes to make this smoother and quicker, and also deliver our clients peace of mind. Knowing that we are ready and able to support them should an incident occur, allows our clients to focus on other non-operational activities.
#5: Business continuity tests
For some larger clients, a complete business continuity test involving the whole team – or relevant managers and team members – can be run. These tests take the team through a simulated incident and the business continuity process, putting the plan into action and testing the theory against the actions relevant team members would need to take in the event of a crisis.
With simulations and tests, you can be confident that your business will function again, quickly, should anything happen.
Not every outsource business continuity provider is as committed to providing and improving their service. Some are happy to back up your data without testing the systems as regularly or providing training and support to staff. Not every company that stores your data is willing to go the extra mile in the event of an emergency: make sure your systems, data and business continuity process is in safe hands.
To find out more about our business continuity and disaster recovery services, click here.
Get in touch if you would like to discuss any of the subjects covered above in more detail. Call us today on 0330 124 3599 to find out more.