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Business continuity planning: are you covered if the worst were to happen?

Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery

If the worst were to happen and your business IT system was damaged would your business be able to continue running normally? With a carefully considered business continuity planning that includes reliable IT backup system, you should be able to keep your business operating with the minimum interruption.

What is business continuity planning?

Put simply, business continuity planning is the anticipation of problems which have the potential to cause a disruption to your company and would reduce your ability to operate as normal. When it comes to your IT system, problems can arise from physical threats such as floods, fire or theft, or from threats to software such as hackers, viruses or Trojans.  With this in mind, it’s vital that you plan accordingly to ensure a quick recovery in the event of a disaster.

Identify threats

It can be all too easy and very tempting to keep your fingers crossed and assume the worst will never happen. However, successful continuity planning requires a thorough and methodical examination of the potential threats to your business.  You should begin by looking at the possible threats to your IT system; things to think about include a virus or the failure of your internet connection.

Once you’ve identified any potential threats, you will need to assess the likelihood that they could happen.  Some threats will be more likely to happen than others and so it can be sensible to get professional advice on this to help you work out which threats pose the biggest danger.  It’s also important to work out the potential damage that could arise from a potential threat: for example, would the impact be comparatively low or could it cause irreparable damage to your client database or your business reputation?

Find and eradicate weak points

It’s important to locate and remove any weak points by ensuring you have watertight backup systems.  For example, if you hold your customer contact details in a cloud computer service, would you be able to access it if you lost your internet connection?  To cover this you could use a cheap broadband service to provide a backup internet connection.

Alongside planning on how you would reduce risks and provide backup, you should also set up a procedure so that you and your employees know what to do if a problem occurs.  Clear lines of communication are vital here and establishing a procedure to follow can save huge amounts of time and stress in the event of a crisis.  Think about what you will do to get back on your feet quickly – could you find another office premises if yours was uninhabitable? If it’s going to take a long time to fix your IT system will it be possible for you to do your job manually?

Test your plan

Testing your plan is important and once you’ve written your business recovery plan you’ll need to ensure that it works and how long it will take you to resume normal operations again. If and when you are negotiating with an IT supplier, it can be well worth considering paying for an enhanced level of service to ensure a faster response time from them in the event of a systems failure.

Backup data and then back it up again

When thinking about continuity planning for your IT system, you should include the provision of a backup system so that you always have an up-to-date backup.  There are a number of issues to you need to consider, such as how much data you need to backup, how often you will need to make backups, how long you need to keep backups for and where you keep your data.  Don’t forget that you will also need a way to access your backed up data and that any contingency systems you use are compatible with your existing files.

Article by Matthew Wright, Managing Director at Soda IT Consulting.  Soda deliver first-class IT support, cloud services, backup and IT security to businesses throughout Yorkshire.  

Outsourcing your IT department to the experts at Soda protects you from unexpected troubles and unreliable systems. Call 0845 519 5069, email [email protected] or visit www.soda-online.com