Take a Big-Picture Perspective When Planning for Business Continuity

January 25th, 2022

A business continuity plan has always been essential for successful companies. Bottom line: Businesses need to stay open to keep customers happy and maintain a revenue stream. As companies transitioned from legacy to digital processes, planning for business continuity shifted.  Companies went from archived paper copies to prioritizing access to data and systems when servers or internet connectivity are down. The question that all businesses must answer – before a natural disaster, cyberattack, or human error that leads to data loss occurs – is how quickly operations can get up and running again.  

Backup and Disaster Recovery

A key component of planning for business continuity is having a solid backup and disaster recovery (BDR) strategy. Backing up your IT systems and data helps minimize downtime if a natural disaster disrupts operations at your physical facility. If you follow the 3-2-1-1 backup rule recommended by Veeam, you’ll have three copies of data on at least two different types of media, and one offsite copy, as well as one copy that’s immutable, offline or air-gapped. This backup strategy ensures that there is always backup copy somewhere that’s secure, accessible, and uncorrupted – not only in case of natural disaster but also if you’re the victim of a ransomware attack. 

Beyond BDR

BDR should take a high priority when planning for business continuity; however, there’s much more to consider to create a comprehensive, effective plan, including:  

  1. Where your employees will work

    If fire, flood, tornado or other natural disaster destroys your facility or makes it impossible for employees to report, you need to plan where your team will work. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic proved that the plans you make might need to be practical for months or years of operation. Make arrangements for auxiliary power supplies or alternative worksite options for different circumstances.

  2. How to provide employees with the tools they need

    Once you establish alternate locations for employees to work, whether it’s a warehouse, different facility, or employees’ homes, you need to plan how to provide them with access to IT systems, data, and equipment they need to do their jobs. Depending on your industry, you may need to plan to use stored equipment or rent tools that your team can use temporarily. In addition, if office staff and knowledge workers will perform their jobs from home, make sure you have a plan for how they can connect to IT systems securely using a virtual private network (VPN) or virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).  

  3. How teams can communicate and collaborate

    Communication is vital at any time, but its pivotal during the confusion of a disaster or shutdown. Deploying a Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) solution during normal operations can provide your team with the ability to log in from new locations during a disaster and continue to communicate via phone, mobile device, text, messaging, and video conference. UCaaS solutions can also integrate with collaboration software that enables teams to create and share documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more – and remember to back up and protect that data as well. 

    Additionally, when planning for business continuity, consider how to provide your managers with the visibility and tools they need for oversight and approvals, particularly if they’re working in different locations than their departments.  

  4. Technology that supports working anywhere

    Particularly since the beginning of the pandemic, many companies have made “business continuity” a part of normal operating procedures. They have adapted their IT environments so teams can work anywhere, at any time, to stay agile when circumstances change. Your business may benefit from greater automation, remote control and equipment monitoring, virtualizing IT infrastructure, and using cloud applications and services.  

Planning for Business Continuity Isn’t Enough

Once you have developed a business continuity plan, you need to test it. Ensure backups are recoverable, your system can fail over, communications are effective, and your team is educated on how to move to new processes.  

Consider the time you take planning for business continuity and testing your plan as insurance against losses from downtime, which can be significant and detrimental to your business.  

Stay operational, even when unexpected circumstances occur. Virtual Systems offers backup and disaster recovery, cloud workspaces, and cloud security.  We also have a network of trusted providers with expertise in other areas such as UCaaS and Access Control.  Contact us to learn more.  

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