Business continuity should be a mandatory requirement for any business. They should not come to a halt when faced with a disaster, albeit a terrorist or cyber security attack, severe weather or a power or technology outage. In today’s 24/7 world, they must carry on providing services as usual. If they don’t, they will damage their reputation and lose revenue.
Business continuity strategies are often given to the IT department to set up and manage and they only think about the technology and not the overall business, processes and people. This is usually why business continuity strategies fail.
When devising a business continuity strategy, you should consider the 4 P’s: people (staff and customers), processes (the technology and processes required), premises and providers, suppliers and partners. This methodology enables you to take a holistic view of business continuity across the business.
Commitment from the top
The first step in the business continuity planning process is to get commitment from the Senior Management team. It is then advisable to appoint someone to take ownership of the strategy.
Appoint an expert
It is also advisable to appoint a Solutions Provider who is accredited to the recognised business continuity standard of ISO 22301. They will help you in setting the strategy and ensure that you have the right technology in place for a resilient communications solution so you can carry on working should a disaster occur.
What are the key services to our business?
It is vital to work out what is important to your business. Take your telecoms, for example. What would happen if you had a fire or a flood and your phones went down? List all the possible potential disasters that could happen.
What are the most critical services that you offer and what has the greatest impact on your business for your customers, suppliers and partners? What would need to get restored very quickly if a disaster occurred?
Processes - How do you deliver that?
What technology do we have to deliver the key processes, now that we have understood what we need and what the impact is? The longer operational disruption lasts, the more severe and costly the damage to your business and its reputation will be.
In the event of a disaster, staff may not be able to get into work and customers, partners and suppliers will not be able to contact them. Look at the different scenarios why staff might not be able to attend work such as snow, epidemic flu or an office fire. It is important to plan, how staff could continue to work, and how you would disseminate information to customers, partners and suppliers.
If staff can’t access your premises then they should be provided with technology that enables them to work from anywhere, so if a disaster arises they can carry on working from any location.
Unified communications conferencing and collaboration solutions on mobiles and the desktop enable people to work from anywhere if there is an internet connection.
A Solutions Provider can assist you evaluating what technology you have in place and provide you with a resilient telephony solution and system. Do you have a duplicate server? Is your data backed up? Can you access your data quickly?
Secure in the cloud
Cloud-based communications solutions are resilient and flexible, enabling you to keep everyone connected in the event of a disaster. It is a resilient platform that is a duplication of the technology systems that you use, so if a disaster occurs everything works on the duplicate server allowing you to carry on working as usual. SIP telephony provides resiliency as it is a self-healing network with a failover network ensuring that the telephone system never goes down.
Safe in the hands of a solution provider
The benefit of working with a Solutions Provider is that they will provide a managed service for the resilient cloud solution, which frees up your IT team to focus on other areas. It also means that you have access to the latest technology without having to invest in the hardware or specialist ICT skills. They know the health of the network, the capacity and how well it is performing. They can also set parameters and alerts if the system starts to behave outside these parameters.
Federating with partners and suppliers
It is also imperative that you understand what business continuity plans your partners and suppliers have in place. If you rely on their network or systems and they suffer a disaster, how will this affect your operations?
An organic approach
A Solutions Provider will guide customers through this lengthy process, evaluating the risks, working out the different scenarios, and the technology and processes that can be implemented to recover the business as fast as possible.
A business continuity strategy is the responsibility of the Senior Management team not the IT department. It needs to be viewed as a business strategy and not a technology strategy. It is essential that everyone in the business is briefed and knows what their role is should a disaster occur. It is a circular process that constantly evolves and needs to be regularly fine-tuned and improved. It is a critical strategy that all businesses need to implement, so in the event of a disaster they can ‘keep calm and carry on.’
Jonathan Sharp, Director, Britannic Technologies
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