Scenarios that might require BCP action

Do you know when to invoke your Business Continuity Plan? A lot of business owners assume they know when it will be required, but the reality is that it can be hard to determine when a BCP is really necessary. It’s important you are able to assess what is taking place, and make an informed decision with regard to putting your continuity strategy into action. Here are few things you need to consider when it comes to invoking your plan.

When a disaster happens, your first thoughts will likely revolve around how it will affect your business and the services it provides. Depending on what occurs, you might be required to call your Business Continuity Plan (BCP) into action to ensure your company remains operational and that any Recovery Time Objectives are met.

Unfortunately, too many business owners fail to properly prepare themselves for taking this action, by viewing disasters as two-dimensional events. Realistically, a disaster has many possible outcomes and is not as black and white as you may think. For instance, think about how a flood can disrupt your company.

The logical conclusion for most business owners is to picture their office underwater. While that is one possibility, several others may also exist that could require you to consider implementing your BCP. A flood may not disturb your office, but what if it strikes an off-site storage facility where you keep digital or paper data? This is likely to have just as great an impact on your business, and necessitate your BCP coming into action.

Here we’ll take a look at a few other disasters that can happen, and which factors you need to consider before implementing your BCP.

Fire

If a fire takes place at your business, invoking your BCP is a fairly obvious decision. However, what do you do if a fire occurs in the same building as your office, or next door to you? It can be a problematic situation as you may not know what, if any, damage has occurred. Smoke travels fast and can leave behind soot, which may render your servers inoperable or highly unstable. There may be health issues at play as well, and sometimes it is not be feasible to have your employees working in the office in the immediate aftermath of smoke damage.

Before invoking your BCP in this situation, you will want to speak with fire crews on the scene about when they will let you back into your office and what kind of damage has been done. This should give you the necessary information on how to proceed, and enable you to decide whether your BCP needs to be put into action.

Civil unrest

It can be hard to gauge what to expect in times of civil unrest. We have witnessed large protests that remained peaceful, but we have also seen ones that have become unruly and destructive. Several business owners had to halt or significantly reduce services in places like Missouri and Baltimore because of the latter. Only time will tell if they are able to recover, or end up having to shut their doors for good.

Due to the volatility of these events, it is impossible to fully prepare yourself, since you can never completely know how the situation will pan out. Instead make sure you and your staff are prepared to invoke your BCP should the situation deteriorate. Even if something were to happen at your premises, if you’re diligent and paying attention you should be able to act quickly and prevent a large-scale service disruption.

Security threats

Most people don’t put things like viruses and security breaches in the realm of disasters, and that in and of itself can be disastrous. Let’s use one of the fastest growing security threats to small businesses, ransomware, as an example. It could be downloaded to your network by a deceptive email and opened by an employee. When ransomware makes it way onto your network, it will encrypt or block all access to your data until you pay a sum of money.

Because ransomware can appear suddenly, often business owners get flustered and either pay the ransom or suffer a long period of downtime trying to figure out how to fix the problem. Either way, money is lost. If ransomware or any other security breach occurs, it’s important to quickly analyze the situation and determine whether you need to invoke your BCP, which should allow you to avoid both downtime and ransom payments.

It’s important to remember that a disaster can appear in many different ways, shapes and forms. If you need help on determining when it is appropriate to initiate your BCP, or have any other questions about how a BCP would help your business, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Storm warning: prepare staff and clients

When your employees see snow on the ground, the thought of a day off immediately pops into their heads. Of course your customers are still reliant on you to provide the goods and services they have come to expect from your business. Before a storm hits, you should be communicating with both staff and clients to inform them of the situation. This will ensure your business doesn’t miss a step should inclement weather head your way this winter.

While weather varies drastically depending on where you live, nowhere is immune from inclement conditions during the winter. It’s only a matter of time before your local weatherperson appears on TV warning you to brace for yet another “Storm of the Century”, and in turn everyone whips themselves into a frenzy preparing for the worst-case scenario.

However, you shouldn’t just be focusing on your personal affairs; you need to make sure your business is ready as well. Even if the forecast doesn’t turn out to be accurate, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. For this to happen, you will need to stay in constant contact with both your employees and customers before and during a storm to make sure they know what to expect. Doing this will help limit interruptions and make sure clients can adjust the expectations they have of your business. Here is how you can use communication technology to prepare for any possible service interruptions caused by bad weather.

Employees

The great thing about technological advancements over the past few years is that they allow for many employees to work from home, or from anywhere that has an internet connection. However, they must be prepared to do so. That means you should be letting employees know that there is a chance they might be working from home three or four days before a storm is due to hit. During this time, have your IT department or provider check with those employees to ensure they have the capabilities to work from home, even if it is in a limited capacity.

During this time, designate certain employees as flex workers if you can’t determine just how bad the weather will be the next day. This means that they will check the weather in the morning and come in if it is safe. They will also be in charge of informing other employees whether or not they will need to come into work.

Finally, make sure there is an updated spreadsheet or file with all your employees’ contact details, and that this is available to those who may need it. It is important that each person at your company is able to be reached via multiple channels, because you never know which services a storm may knock out. Having this ready before anything happens will allow for more efficient communication during inclement weather.

Customers

Your customers depend on you, and it is absolutely vital that you keep them informed of how the weather situation will affect your business. One of the easiest ways to do this is via social media. In the days leading up to the storm, let your followers know that you are keeping an eye on the situation, and provide contact information for someone at your company who can give them additional information if needed.

If your business will have to close because of bad weather, it’s good practice to announce it as far ahead of time as possible. Ideally this will be done on the night before or, at the latest, early in the morning of the closure. You don’t want customers trekking in three feet of snow to get to your shop or office, only to find out it’s closed.

Make sure you get in touch with clients right away to inform them of any delays that might occur in delivering goods or services because of the office shut-down, and give them an estimate as to when your business will be fully operational again. Just because you aren’t responsible for the weather doesn’t mean you can stop being accountable altogether. Staying ahead of the game will prove to clients that your company is organized and prepared for anything.

Of course, communication is just one part of a comprehensive business continuity plan. Contact our experts today and find out how we can keep your company functional no matter the weather.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Are your employees prepared for disaster?

Disasters can come in all shapes and sizes. No matter what happens, your business can be prepared by creating a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). It’s important for your BCP to address the roles of your staff members, so that they are able to assist in keeping the company running during these stressful occasions. Make sure your employees are always prepared by following these steps.

Step 1 – Prepare

What good is a BCP if your employees don’t understand or even know about it? Saving your data and information is important during times of emergency, but so is making sure your employees can execute their day-to-day functions. Guarantee they understand what is expected from them during a disaster by explaining this in a dedicated meeting. This will also provide a forum for your staff to ask questions and better understand how they fit into the BCP as a whole.

Among the most important things to include in the formulation of any planning are clearly defined roles and open lines of communication. Everyone should know who they report to, as well as who his or her backup is. This will help ensure your company has all its bases covered if a disaster should strike.

Step 2 – Give them the right tools

You can’t expect employees to work from home during a disaster if they do not have the proper tools to succeed. Of course, these also have to be cost effective as well; it’s not feasible to simply hand out workstations to everyone to store at home in case of emergency. For starters, investing in cloud-based solutions will help make it possible to keep service interruptions to a minimum. Microsoft Office 365, for instance, lets users access its programs and files from anywhere and on any device. This means that, if your office is no longer accessible, staff can keep working on their existing projects at home from their own device.

Cloud-based VoIP is another tool that can keep employees up and running from home. These systems can make sure all calls to your office are forwarded to your employees’ cell phones. This allows for communication between your clients and employees to continue uninterrupted even if your office is closed.

Step 3 – Practice

Have each employee take a day to work from home so they are able to get hang of how the process will go if a disaster strikes. This will get them comfortable with the workings of everything, as well as seeing if there are any issues that crop up. Rarely, if ever, does anything go perfectly on the first attempt, so practicing before a disaster can help eliminate any problems that might occur during the real thing.

Make sure you take the time to review how it went with each employee. This will give you an opportunity to see how practical this aspect of your BCP is, and which areas can be made stronger. The idea of the exercise is to allow each employee to feel confident in his or her ability to work during a disaster, and to give you the reassurance that they understand their role as it relates to the wider BCP.

Step 4 – Be alert

Finally, it’s important to keep an eye on possible events that could force you to shut down your office, and make sure your staff is also aware of the situation. The more time they have to prepare to work from home, the more ready they will be. Of course, not every event is possible to predict ahead of time, but if the a blizzard is forecast or there have been protests nearby, alert your staff of the possibility that your BCP may go into effect.

A comprehensive Business Continuity Plan can be the difference between your business surviving or failing if a disaster occurs. Let our experts find a BCP that ensures your company can carry on through thick and thin.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

BCP implementation challenges

Reliable Telephone & Internet Solutions in South Florida Area

Business continuity planning (BCP) is critical to all companies regardless of size. If disaster were to strike, an effective BCP would protect your valuable data and prevent your company from falling on its knees. Yet the implementation of a BCP presents challenges in itself. You need to address the following issues to ensure that your organization is on the right track to build and maintain a successful business continuity plan.

Challenge #1: Prohibitive costs

Business continuity planning has become exponentially expensive as availability requirements increase. Many solutions require substantial investments on the installation and maintenance of additional hardware, software, and data center infrastructure. These requirements drive up the cost of business continuity, and many company owners are reluctant to invest in protective measures.

The solution
Instead of relying on costly physical servers to accommodate your backups, consider using efficient and affordable cloud computing solutions. You can transfer your important business files to the cloud and eliminate the expense of having to install and manage hardware infrastructure and software licenses.

Challenge #2: High complexity

Traditional business continuity planning is complex to implement, manage and execute. From managing the recovery infrastructure to updating disaster recovery documentation and testing the BCP to find and close potential loopholes, the prospect of embarking on a BCP project can be daunting, and the whole experience can prove time consuming. Combine with the pressure of your ordinary day-to-day duties, it can seem almost impossible to focus your attention on initiating a BCP.

The solution
With all this in mind, it makes more sense to hire a professional IT service provider to plan, implement, and execute your business continuity plan. This way you can leverage their experience and expertise to ensure that, in the event of a disaster, your company will be able to get back on its feet and resume business operations as quickly as possible.

Challenge #3: Lack of staff involvement

There are so many requirements to be considered in a business continuity plan. And the more employees your organization has, the more difficult it is to relay the essence of the plan for everyone to understand. Staff involvement isn’t an option – it’s an absolute necessity if you wish for a successful BCP implementation!

The solution
Depending on the size of your organization, you can either hold a company meeting to announce the essentials of your BCP, or schedule a meeting with key staff members who take an active role in the planning process. To create a long-lasting BCP program, you need to get everyone on the same page by emphasizing the importance of the plan in an easy-to-understand way.

Business continuity planning is one of the most important things you need to have in place. You never know when, or in what form, a disaster will strike – all the more reason to take a preventative approach to securing your company and all you’ve worked for.

Need a reliable partner to take care of all your business continuity planning needs? Get in touch with us today – we have exactly what you need to prepare and protect your company.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

How to backup your data

Businesses today are relying on data to run their day-to-day operations. We use it to build client relationships, generate sales reports, develop marketing strategies, and so much more. But if something were to happen to it, a devastating disaster for example, you could risk losing your whole business if you haven’t properly backed up. With that in mind you should take necessary precautions to protect your data in the event of a crisis. Let’s take a look at some devices you can use to keep your information out of harm’s way.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to data backups. You’ll want to consider the pros and cons of each of the backup devices below before making a purchase.

USB stick

USB flash drives are basically miniature hard drives that you connect to your computer using a USB port. The drives are extremely cheap, with prices depending on their capacity. They’re also portable, and can be used to backup information from several computers to the same drive.

Although USB sticks are highly convenient, they’re still not a complete backup solution, and are best suited for intermediate backups, such as storing file recovery programs or critical business documents.

External hard drive

An external hard drive is perfect when used as backup storage media. It has the lowest cost per gigabyte when compared to the other backup devices out there. External hard drives use the same plug-and-play functionality as USB sticks, so you can plug the drive into your computer and immediately start selecting the files you want to backup. The transfer rate is also very fast, and you can backup a large amount of data within seconds.

One of the evident drawbacks of using an external hard drive is that you’ll need to update your backups on a regular basis, or else new files won’t be included. There’s also the risk of the device being stolen or misused. For instance, a colleague may take your drive when you’re away from your desk, or a disgruntled employee may copy all of your important business files and take it with them when quitting.

Network attached storage

Network attached storage, or NAS for short, is a dedicated device with its own IP address. It can be used as a multimedia server, and can function as an email or lightweight database server. NAS offers data redundancy, meaning it will generate a backup of your backups, so you can ensure your files are fully protected.

The main downside of NAS is its inability to scale beyond the limits of the system; you have to purchase additional hard drive bays when you need more capacity. You also have to take full responsibility for data security if you’re implementing NAS.

Cloud storage

Cloud storage is becoming more and more popular among businesses of all sizes, due to its many benefits such as allowing users to access data anywhere on smartphone devices, as well as enabling you to work with the most current hardware and up-to-date software. It is also affordable, since you’ll only have to pay for what you use. What’s more, cloud computing is very convenient, because your service provider will take care of the installation, management, and maintenance processes.

On the downside, some cloud service providers don’t employ sufficient security measures on their systems, so your data could be exposed to potential cybersecurity threats. This means that it is not always the ideal solution for companies dealing with very sensitive data – medical practices and law firms, for example. Predicting costs can also be hard; if your business is growing rapidly, then you might find you have not adequately planned for incremental costs.

Choosing the best system for backup is a critical decision that will impact your business on a daily basis. There are trade-offs among backup devices, which is why you need to choose the solution – or solutions – best suited to your business. Contact us today and our experts will assess your company’s needs and provide the best backup solutions for you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.