Technology is so entrenched with everyday operations of businesses that for many people, it’s difficult to remember a time in their professional lives that didn’t interface with a computer at some point. As the growth of reliance on technology increases, there are associated benefits from being able to access data stored on remote servers from mobile devices, to utilizing desktop virtualization and the immediate updating of information. As such, never before has the incorporation of a business continuity plan been as essential for the health and perseverance of your business. As the reliance on technology becomes more critical to the success of our business, the need for support when things go awry also increases. A foundational aspect of that support is the idea of protecting your critical business data in the event of a disaster.
Why Your Employees Will Embrace A Business Continuity Plan
If the idea of “business continuity planning,” “disaster preparedness,” “data recovery,” and “crisis communication” cause you discomfort or confusion, you are not alone. Especially in a time when the forces that threaten IT security are often faceless hackers, intangible viruses, or unpredictable natural disasters. It is generally difficult to be prepared for unknown catastrophes or disruptions, especially when the sources of such disturbances are as varied as hurricanes, to bouts of human folly or those unforeseen data leaks. Business continuity plans are not just about the loss of tangible resources and infrastructure, but include satisfying the need to also include protection and recovery of your data.
Desktop and server virtualization, cloud computing, and the proliferation of mobile devices within businesses have provided businesses with a secondary benefit; the ability to embrace remote workforces. If employees cannot get to work, they can access necessary data and company networks via their home computers or their mobile device. These technological resources have become reassurances for continued communication between coworkers and clients if normal business operations have been disturbed. These technologies have increased the speed and efficiency of business operations and, as a consequence, are being relied upon more heavily.
But what if these fail?
Pillars of Integrated IT Support Services
Having a comprehensive IT business continuity plan is a necessity for businesses today. The ability to create a sound BC plan requires a thorough understanding of today’s technological resources and their vulnerabilities, as well as a thorough understanding of the intricacies of your own business. What this means for the average business owner or manager is incorporating IT planning to meet the following considerations:
Business Analysis and Assessment of Preparedness
In order to ensure the protection and continuation of your business, your IT support needs to have an intimate understanding of the most valuable components, operations, and accessibilities of your business. If contact with clients is a primary aspect of your business, being able to access client information and data security should be an area of focus for your continuity plan. If you decide to outsource your IT support, your partner should be trustworthy enough to be privy to your business’s most critical needs, and be able to proactively identify the primary areas of weakness.
Availability of IT Support
Disturbances to company operations are not always cataclysmic. You might anticipate or experience temporary network failure, power brown-outs, or have a software update that impacts your ability to work in another program. Whether you’re experiencing short-term or long-term hindrances in any area of IT, your managed IT support needs to be reliable enough to be called upon for help. This reliability should include support staff being able to report on the security of your data, the status of any IT recovery, and a timeline for when resources will be available should the network go down.
Cloud Computing and Server Management
As mentioned earlier, cloud computing and off-site server management has enabled many businesses to continue working outside of the office. Cloud computing and server management are elements of IT support that can improve business efficiency, help expedite software updates, troubleshoot server issues, software license issues, and provide network address troubleshooting.
Whether your business uses these benefits on a day-to-day basis, or only as a back-up if your normal IT operations are compromised, your IT support team must be able to explain and enable these functions as they relate to your business.
Components of a Well-Rounded Business Continuity Plan
Crisis Communication Plan
As part of being available to help your business at all times, your IT team, managed or in-house needs to ensure effective communication during a crisis. Your team needs to have a plan of secure communication between employees of your executives within the business. Your IT support needs to be able to determine when, if ever, social media is a secure channel of communication as opposed to when data needs to be sent with password securities or file encryptions, and what resources are available to facilitate those needs.
Data Back-up and Recovery
Data protection and accessibility is probably the greatest priority to modern businesses. Using technology such as cloud computing for data storage, and off-site servers for data back-up, are optimal for efficiency in the workplace, but if the hosts of these resources lose power, how will you get your data? Your IT support team should incorporate the following elements into your business continuity plan:
- Maintenance of your most up-to-date data in numerous places,
- Immediate restoration despite differences in operating systems or bandwidth capabilities,
- Virtualization of downed servers,
- Constant monitoring of data and information, and
- Archiving and retention policies.
Consideration of these elements ensures that your business is able to maintain your data securely in a way that allows you to get back to business immediately.
Security and Prevention
Although post-disaster recovery and data back-up are an enormous reassurance in your business continuity plan, good IT support is differentiated from bad IT support by the ability to help you avoid disaster within these recover and back-up modules. While physical disasters of human or natural origin may be unavoidable, data hacks and data loss may not be. Your IT support should implement a security program for your data that fits your business needs.
The unfortunate reality of business continuity planning is that more likely than not, it will be utilized at some point in a business’ lifecycle. The trick is being prepared beforehand, and not having to create these systems as you also try to pick up the pieces from an unplanned disaster.
In the modern business world, the most frightening and misunderstood (and, therefore, the most difficult to prepare for) threats are those that impact our technology and data access.
The IT support team here at Continuous have a passion for understanding the benefits and weaknesses of technology used in their clients businesses. More importantly, we also have a passion for understanding your business and your unique needs which make us an ideal partner to help plan and implement a business continuity plan.