Category Archives: Business Continuity

Business Continuity

5 reasons BCP fails

BCP_July08_CEach year there seems to be an increasingly large number of disasters that affect an ever growing population. It would therefore make sense to take action to prepare your business for disasters, whatever they may be. To prepare, most business owners or managers will adopt a Business Continuity Plan. While this is a good idea, there have been stories of these plans failing – something you probably don’t want.

Here are five common reasons Business Continuity efforts fail.

1. Inefficient communication
When it comes to business, one of the most important keys to success is communication. The same can be said for Continuity plans – if the plan and actions expected aren’t communicated effectively and understood by all parties involved, there is little to no chance that it will succeed.

To minimize this from happening, you should take steps to ensure that you clearly communicate, orally or through email, the plan with all parties involved. They should have on-demand access to it, and should be clear about what their role is and how they are expected to act. You should also take steps to ensure that departments and representatives are prepared and understand all aspects of the plan.

2. Lack of testing
When it comes to anything related to IT, testing and retesting is essential. Many businesses take careful steps to implement a sound Continuity plan that covers the organization, but they fail to test it to see if it actually works. This could be a costly mistake.

It would therefore be a good idea to test your plan in a number of situations at least twice to three times a year. It would be a good idea to do spot tests that involve all parties so they can not only get experience but find potential holes and issues that need to be addressed.

3. Lack of a complete plan
To be prepared, you must have a complete plan, that way you will be ready for almost anything. Numerous businesses have failed because they simply weren’t prepared enough. Or their plan lacked crucial elements that would have prepared their business for an eventual disaster. Other examples of failure due to lack of complete plans is the fact that companies focused on their systems only, and forgot to plan for their employees’ needs.

Planning can be tough. The best way to ensure that you are ready for disaster is to work with an IT partner who has experience in Continuity Planning. They will work with you to create a plan that your company can rely on.

4. Poor expectations
When planning for Business Continuity, you need to think outside of the box. Many businesses have solid plans, but these plans are based on assumptions like: The power will remain on, Internet and landlines will remain connected, Mobile networks will work, staff will come into work, other parties involved won’t be affected, etc. In smaller disasters, this could be the case, but in larger disasters you can bet that at least one of the above things will happen.

The best way to develop your expectations is to look at each scenario on its own, as you develop your plan. For example, how will you deal with Internet being down? Or, how will you operate with staff who can’t make it into the office or backup location?

5. No updates to the plan
Almost everyone knows that the world changes, often quickly. Yet, some businesses fail to acknowledge these changes and update their BCP accordingly. It would be a good idea to audit and update your plan on a regular basis, usually about once a year, to take into account any changes.

These changes could include new buildings next door, new equipment, new staff, etc. The key here is to ensure your plan is as up-to-date as possible.

If you are struggling with developing your Business Continuity Plan, or are thinking about adopting one, please contact us today to see how we can help your business be prepared for anything.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

5 benefits of offsite backups

BCP_June12_COne common threat to businesses is disaster. One can strike at any time and can vary in severity. Regardless of whether a company is facing a major catastrophe or something as simple as spilling water on a keyboard, it is a good idea to take steps to prepare for different potential disaster scenarios. A way to prepare for disaster is to back up your data using backup solution, such as one off site.

Here are five benefits and a definition of offsite backup.

Offsite backup defined
The definition of offsite backup can be a bit difficult to nail down, as when many IT providers talk about this idea they are usually referring to one of a number of different kinds of backup. The key idea revolving around offsite backup is that your company’s data and backups are sent out of your physical location(s). In other words, your backups are not stored in your office or building.

Offsite backup is usually done in one of two ways:

  1. Physical transport - This can range from something as simple as copying important files onto a removable hard drive and storing this in another location, to backing up entire systems on tape and storing them off site.
  2. Remote backup - This is a more modern approach to data backup, whereby your data and files are stored on servers located off site. This form of backup is commonly referred to as ‘cloud backup’.

For the purpose of this article, we will focus on remote backup as this is the main solution companies are enquiring about.

Benefits of remote backup

1. It’s more reliable
The major benefit of remote backup is that it can be automated. Your files are updated on a daily basis, or you can set the time for the update. Because these solutions work over the Internet, you will be able to recover files quickly. Beyond that, the servers that offer this solution are often located in numerous locations, which ensures that your backups are always available, even if one server crashes.

2. It reduces workload
Traditional backup solutions require a person, whether you or an IT professional, to manually back up or copy files. This can take a long time, and will take you away from your normal job. Many remote backup solutions can be initiated at the click of a mouse after setup, or can be scheduled for when you aren’t in the office.

3. It’s easy to set up
Backup solutions are managed by an IT partner who can work with you to set up which files and data to back up. Other solutions can be set up with a few clicks and even automated, so you can rest assured that your data is backed up and up-to-date.

4. It’s secure
Most backup providers store their servers in secure locations, meaning that your data is physically secure. To ensure that backup data is transmitted securely, most solutions use advanced encryption tools to keep data secure.

5. It will save money
If you have numerous computers with large amounts of data that you back up regularly, you know that physical storage solutions can be costly. The majority of remote backup solutions are billed on a monthly-basis and support a near unlimited amount of backup space. If your company operates in an industry where backups are mandatory, or you have a large amount of files to back up, these options will save you money.

If you are interested in learning more about how offsite, remote backup can help ensure that your business is ready for disaster recovery, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Here are 5 disaster recovery tips

BCP_May15_CWhen it comes to running a successful business, the last thing an owner or manager wants to think about is a disaster that could cause their business to go bankrupt. While there are many things you can do to minimize the potential fallout from any disaster, the most important is implementing a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that covers more than just data backup. If you are struggling to figure out what to do, this article may help.

Here are five tips to help ensure that your business is fully ready for the next disaster.

1. Backup everything
While it can be tempting to only backup the most important data and programs, it can be a chore to identify what is deemed to be important. Who knows, a file that is non-essential today may become essential in the future. If it is lost due to a disaster, this could prove to be a problem.

It would be a good idea to look for a backup solution that covers all data and programs. But, having a full backup solution isn’t enough, you also need to ensure that recovery is easy and can be implemented quickly.

2. Look into tiered recovery
Establishing a tiered recovery method means identifying the value and importance of existing systems and utilizing a recovery method that meets needs. It would be a good idea to identify mission critical systems and adopt a recovery method that can have these systems up and running as quickly as possible. From there you can tier different systems and match a recovery method. For example, archived files are likely not needed right away, so they can be recovered at a later date, using a slower recovery method.

3. Keep copies of all keys and licenses
With the amount of software and programs businesses use on a daily basis growing, it would be a good idea to keep copies of the activation keys (the string of digits and letters you enter to activate the full version of software) and purchased licenses.

While many of these are now distributed electronically through email, there are still software developers that distribute keys by mail or with the physical install CDs. If you lose the codes in a fire, you will be out of luck and have to purchase the software again. This is an extra charge you likely don’t want.

4. Pick the right recovery locations
The best recovery plans offer numerous backup solutions which are hosted in different locations. A good provider knows this and will utilize data storage centers as far apart as possible. If you choose to backup your own data, it would not be a good idea to keep the backups in the office.

Similarly, if you are preparing for a big disaster, you likely have physical locations that you can move to if your main business location is damaged or destroyed. Optimal plans will have more than one location identified, and have them as far apart as possible. This will minimize the chances of losing full operations and increase your business’s ability to bounce back quicker.

5. Match your recovery plan to your business
There are so many different backup and recovery options that it can be tough to pick one. The best course of action is to look at your systems and how they work. If you operate strictly offline, a cloud based backup solution likely isn’t your best bet. Or, if you operate fully in the cloud, a physical tape or hard disk backup may not be optimal.

If you are looking to beef up, or establish a disaster recovery plan, try working with an IT partner like us, who can help you find the optimal solution that can meet your needs and budget.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

5 reasons you need a continuity plan

BCP_March20_CAs a business owner or manager, you know that running a business is not easy. There is always something that can put your business in harm’s way or hurt your bottom line; something that needs your attention. This is simply a part of business. But there are steps you can take to minimize any adverse effects from both the external and internal environment. One of those steps is the adoption of a Business Continuity Plan.

Some companies are hesitant to adopt a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) because of the perceived costs and complexity involved. We won’t deny that plans are usually on the complex side, but there are good reasons as to why your company should adopt one. Here’s five.

1. Your business will be seen as more valuable
Banks, venture capitalists and other investors tend to air on the side of caution, and as such will usually look to businesses that appear to be stable as more viable investment vehicles. Companies with a BCP are often seen to be more valuable, as they can address diverse situations better than those without. As a result, they will make the investor more money over time.

2. Compliance
Big companies in a number of industries have had continuity plans for years and many have started to look for suppliers/vendors with continuity plans. Beyond that, some industries and government bodies have made BCP a requirement. If you are a vendor, supplier or even in specific industries, it is a good idea to have one in order for business to run smoothly.

3. Potentially lower insurance premiums
Operating a business is filled with risks, and business managers are often looking for ways to minimize it. One way includes the purchase of insurance – many industries and situations require you to carry it. Generally, insurance providers will give more favorable rates to companies that take steps to minimize risk. A solid BCP will go a long way in showcasing how risk-averse your company is, which could lead to lower rates or at the very least, stable rates.

4. More efficient communication
Developing a BCP involves constant, company-wide communication in order for it to be successful. For many businesses, this involves collaboration between team members who don’t normally work together on a regular basis.

A BCP also fosters communication plans during disasters, both within the organization – most employees have a role, and will need to work together to pull through – and outside – customers, suppliers and other stakeholders will be contacting you. If your employees know how to communicate what needs to be done, effects of the disaster will be minimized.

5. Survival
Recent natural disasters around the globe have highlighted that businesses without a plan will most likely be forced out of business. Having a BCP will minimize the chances of this, while preparing your business for survival.

If you are looking to implement a business continuity plan, or improve on an already existing one, please contact us today. We may have a solution for you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Is your BCP resilient?

BCP_Feb20_COne of the major objectives of almost every business is to remain operational. From time-to-time there might be factors, such as a natural disaster, that could put your company at risk. To mitigate this threat, companies have started to adopt a Business Continuity Plan with the aim of being able to recover from such disastrous events.

While a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) can be complicated, and comprised of many different objectives, the main reason companies include this in their business strategy is to build up resilience. Disasters of many kinds can result in either lost data, sales or even business. While a BCP won’t prevent large-scale disasters, it will help your business recover quicker.

When looking at how resilient your business is, there are three main aspects to consider.

RTO
RTO stands for Recovery Time Objective and is the time period from the beginning of the disaster to recovery of operations. This number, or time period, will be different for every company. For example, companies that operate online stores will likely have a short RTO, as they rely on 24/7 uptime to conduct business and sales.

In general the RTO is an objective, one that employees and stakeholders should strive for. Having one can help planners identify potential problem areas along with critical functions that must be recovered and any preparations that will be necessary. If a business does not address, or identify a set time to recovery they could see an unnecessary increase in recovery times, or worse lost profits.

RPO
RPO stands for Recovery Point Objective and represents the amount of data a business is willing, or can afford, to lose. The easiest way to figure this out is to look at your systems and think about how much data or information you personally can lose before being unable to do your job. From there, you can work out the frequency with which you should back up your systems.

For example: If you figure that you can lose a day’s worth of data, then your backup should be done on a daily basis. If you currently back up your data or systems once a week, and figure you can only miss a day, then RPO helps you realize this is not enough and that you need a system or plan that better meets your needs.

The difference between RTO and RPO is that RTO is a broad process that covers the whole Business Continuity timeline, while RPO is focused on data and backup.

ROI
When looking at different Business Continuity systems, it is always a good idea to calculate the ROI, or Return on Investment. You can calculate the cost of the integrating any plan, time to implement and recovery, expected value it can bring your business and avoided losses. This will give you a pretty good picture on whether current systems are strong enough, and if new alternatives are better.

By figuring out the time you expect to recover, how often you should back up and the total ROI of proposed, or existing, systems you can gain a clearer picture of how resilient your company is.

If you’re looking to make your company a little more resilient, why not get in touch with us? We are happy to sit down and discuss your options with you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

4 BC questions to ask yourself

When Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, many businesses in the US felt the effects due to service outages. This well publicized storm prompted many businesses, who were not hit or directly affected, to look into developing some form of plan to help them remain operational during any disaster situation. This practice is commonly referred to as Business Continuity, and for companies just looking at how to integrate this practice, there are a few things you should prepare before you launch.

Here’s four questions you should answer when looking into adopting a Business Continuity plan.

1. What systems need to be recovered first?
A good idea is to request each department/role list their essential systems and rank them in the order they need them back online in order to do their jobs. From here, you can compare answers and rank them in priority. For example, If all roles say they need Internet connection back online first, you know that the Internet is the first system that needs to be recovered.

2. What do we need to assure customers of stability?
For the majority of businesses, the customer is the lifeblood. However, most customers will only stick around for a limited amount of time before going to a competitor if your business can’t meet their needs. To keep customers loyal during a time of disaster, you need to prove you are either stable, or working to get there. Some examples of this could be a backup site with basic functionality that can take the place of your main website if it goes down.

3. What do business partners require?
Your business partners are just as important as your customers and are often the link between the two. With partners, you often have set requirements that you need to meet in order to continue order fulfillment and shipment. You need to be aware of what these are and the related systems. After all, how are you going to get your product to your customers?

4. Are there any contractual requirements with vendors?
Businesses that work with suppliers or vendors often have contractual obligations such as payment due on a certain date, or a set product order volume to fulfill the contract. As with business partners, you need to be clear on what these obligations are, and how you meet them. For example, if you pay a supplier on the 10th of every month, most will expect payment on the 10th, regardless of if you are operational or not.

Once you have the answers you needed you can take a step back and try to come up with a timeline of how long continuity actions should take and what your priorities are. From here, you can draft an actual plan, or look for vendors that can work with your systems and provide a continuity plan or service that meets your needs.

If you are looking for a business continuity system for your business please give us a call, we may have a solution that fits with your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.