Monthly Archives

June 2016

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Four steps to creating a Business Continuity Plan

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So, it’s time to create a Business Continuity Plan or to revise your current plan, but where do you start? Your plan can be as simple or comprehensive as you desire but remember – the simpler it is, the more flexible it will be. Here are the four steps you need to follow:

Identify threats or risks

First of all, take a look at the risks that will leave your employees, customers, vendors, property and operations vulnerable. Then weight the probability of each event against its potential impact to your business, as well as your readiness to respond. Consider the following factors:

Historical – what has happened in your area, to your business or operations before? Geographic – are you in a flood plain, near an airport or forest, on the coast or in the city centre. Physical – is there something about the layout or construction of your premises that might make your business particularly susceptible to a certain event? Organisational – certain industries are particularly susceptible to certain events e.g. strikes and or human error etc. Look closely at your employee, operational or technological infrastructure. Regulatory – this will actually help your process, i.e. is your specific business/industry required to prepare for any hazards?

Conduct a business impact analysis

This part of the process is about identifying the people, places, suppliers, processes and infrastructure critical to the survival of your business.

What are your products and services? Prioritise your most crucial products and services. Who is involved internally and externally? Key members of staff, agencies, suppliers who are absolutely necessary to restore critical operations.

At the end of this process you should have a list of items, prioritised by need to restore each after the event. It’s all about what has to be restored straight away and what can wait a week, month or a few months.

Develop your strategy/plan

Now you are getting to the nitty-gritty of your plan. It will list contact numbers, resources and procedures. This ‘how-to’ should include step-by-step instructions on what to do, who should do it and how. List each responsibility and write down the name of the person assigned to it.

Then keep all the information together and give one to each of your key members of staff. Also keep copies securely off-site e.g. at home.

Test, exercise and improve your plan routinely

A business continuity plan is ever-evolving and should adapt to your company’s ever-changing needs. Test and update it regularly – at least annually – or whenever critical functions, facilities, suppliers or staff change. It’s important that your staff understand their roles in the execution of the plan. The key is to ensure the plan works as intended.

If you have any questions or concerns over disaster recovery and business continuity, please contact us for advice.

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Business continuity planning – what happens if an entire system goes down?

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You probably already know the importance of protecting your data, and have a backup process in place, but having a backup solution is only one piece of the bigger puzzle when it comes to business continuity planning. According to 2015 statistics from Infrascale, based on a collection of industry surveys, the average time it takes for a business to recover from a disaster is 18.5 hours. Even for a small company, this could be a substantial cost! Downtime can be a result of a natural disaster, hardware failure, data loss, security breach, server outage, or anything that touches your business operation. Often, there’s no way to predict when and how downtime will occur, but it can have catastrophic effects on your business.

The focus is often on the IT services and systems but true business continuity planning looks at the operations as a whole for a business. Business continuity planning is a way to continue business operations outside of normal systems, processes and procedures. For example, a basic backup system works well if someone deletes a file and needs to retrieve it, but what happens if an entire system goes down and how can you keep working?

With the emerging dominance of cloud based systems, business continuity plans are changing to reflect the reliance on internet connectivity, as well as offering viable alternatives to traditional systems. If a businesses core data and applications were cloud based, mobile workers could be quickly relocated and the business could still continue to operate. This does then raise the question of what happens if the cloud services are unavailable for a period of time so a balanced and measured approach should be taken.

You can prevent problems before they happen, minimize potential downtime and prepare for when issues occur! If you have any questions or concerns over disaster recovery and business continuity, please contact us for advice.