Blog

April 23rd, 2014

BCP_Apr21_CIt’s vital for companies to have a back plan for when disasters, as no one can really predict when they will strike . A business continuity plan or BCP will ensure that your business can continuously operate and deliver products or services even when catastrophe occurs. If you don’t have an existing BCP for your company, it’s time that you considered creating one. This is true for every business, whether a startup or established, big company that has been operating for years.

Why make a business continuity plan?

Having a BCP for your company has several benefits. One of the most obvious is that your business can continue its everyday operations, thus allowing you to keep making sales. Aside from this, there are other advantages:
  • Possible to work in remote locations - In the event that your office can’t be used because of disaster, you’ll know how to keep key business functions running by thinking ahead about how employees or key personnel can continue working from remote locations. You may also have a certain place ready to be used as your temporary office if needed.
  • Downtime can be lessened - When disaster strikes it can stop your business operations immediately. Without a business continuity plan, you have to figure out what to do next the moment it happens. However, if you have an existing plan in place, you can immediately start to execute what needs to be done so that you get your business up and running in no time. Time means money in every business and that’s why it’s important not to waste any time unnecessarily.
  • Continue to provide for your customers - If your business operations stop, your customers may start trying out other products or services from other companies. They may forget about you if they don’t feel your presence. Since a successful BCP will keep you up and running, you’ll be able to keep hold of your loyal customers and even continue to make new ones, especially if your competitors do not have a business continuity plan and are afflicted with adverse circumstances too.

Factors to consider when creating a BCP

Since every business is unique, there’s no single BCP that works for all. However, there are common factors that must be considered by every company when devising one.
  • People to manage a BCP - As with any project or program, there should be a committee to take over the management of the business continuity process. This is unlikely to be achieved by a single person. It is best being a collaborative effort, where people have specific roles such as appointing an executive sponsor that takes care of funds and coordinators who oversee the overall process.
  • Analysis of business impact - You need to determine which products and services are the most important to your business operations. Ranking your products according to how critical their impact to your business is will help you determine which products to prioritize during the recovery phase. With this in mind, you can prevent bigger losses and maximize the efficiency of your recovery process.

Plan creation

After determining which products, services, and functions are most vital to your business, you can start creating a plan on what to do in the event of a disaster. It should clearly tell the process that must be followed, as well as the specific roles of individuals. There are existing sample plans that you can find on the Web and you can follow the format of a business in the same industry and customize the plan to suit your individual company.

Plan review

Your BCP plan must be studied carefully for quality. Every area should be reviewed properly to ensure the plan is a success. Since the needs and processes of the company may change, it’s also important to review the plan once or twice a year to ensure that it’s still appropriate for your business.

If you are truly serious about establishing business security, a BCP isn’t a process that you can easily neglect. Remember, you never know when a disaster can strike! The sooner you get a plan of action, the better. Contact us today to see how we can help you develop a plan that will work for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 20th, 2014

BCP_Marc17_CIsn’t it disturbing how a disaster (whether man made or natural) can devastate your business? While disasters are inevitable, you can mitigate risks and lessen the damage to your business in the event of one through a DRP (Disaster Recovery Plan). While it may not seem important to some businesses, especially if yours has never been faced with a disaster, a DRP would be a good idea.

While there are several facets to a DRP that are going to determine whether it will be effective or not, making sure that you’ve considered these 5 tips is definitely a good start.

1.) Commitment from management

Because the managers are the ones who will coordinate the development of the plan and be the central figures who implement the recovery plan, it’s crucial that they are committed to it and are willing to back it up.

They will also be responsible for setting an allocated budget and manpower to creating the actual plan. That said, it’s very important that they know the concept behind it and how huge of an impact a DRP can have on a business.

2.) A representative on each department should be available when creating a DRP

It’s unthinkable to believe that your DRP is well optimized when you haven’t had a representative from each department coordinate with you while creating the recovery program.

Considering how they themselves are the front line of your organization with the best knowledge about how their department works, it’s a huge plus that you should take advantage of when creating a DRP.

With the representatives on your team, you’ll be able to see things from their perspective and gain first-hand knowledge from those who do the actual work.

3.) Remember to prioritize

In an ideal world, you should be able to restore everything at the same time after a disaster strikes. But since most businesses usually have a limited amount of resources, you will usually have to recover systems one at a time.

Because of this, you need to have a hierarchy or a sense of priority when determining which systems should be recovered first. That way, the most important systems are immediately brought back up while the less important ones are then queued in order of their importance.

4.) Determining your recovery strategies

This is one of the main focal points of a DRP since this phase tackles the actual strategies or steps that you’ll implement to recover your systems.

When determining your actual strategies, it's important that you brainstorm and think about all the options that you have to recovering your systems. Don’t simply stick with the cheapest possible strategy or even the most expensive ones.

You have to remember though that the simplest strategy to implement is probably the best one. That is, as long as the simplest strategy covers the critical aspects of your system recovery.

That said, avoid over complicating your strategies as you might face unnecessary challenges when it comes to the implementation of the recovery strategy.

5.) Do a dry run at least once a year

Your DRP shouldn’t end with the concept alone. No matter how foolproof you think your strategy is, if you haven’t tested it you most likely have missed something important.

It's during the dry run phase that the need for extra steps (or the removal of one) are made even more evident. You can then start polishing your strategies according to how your dry run plays out. It would also be a good year to practice your plan each year and update it accordingly.

These tips will help you ensure that your DRP will remain effective should a disaster occur. If you’re having a hard time figuring out how to go about the process of creating a DRP, then give us a call now and we’ll help you with the process.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 20th, 2014

BCP_Feb17_CDisaster recovery features have become a vital aspect for small to medium businesses. With systems and networks becoming more complex, there are many things that can go wrong. It’s for this reason that a business needs to have a DRP, or Disaster Recovery Plan. These plans are a good way of protecting your business from unforeseen calamities that could disrupt your business process.

When creating a disaster recovery plan for your business, there are certain key elements that you need to consider.

Basics of a Disaster Recovery Plan

In building an effective disaster recovery plan, you should include thorough documentation that lays out the details of the ins and outs of the plan. You need to know that there is no right type of DRP, nor is there a single template that fits all. But there are three basic aspects to a disaster recovery plan: Preventive measures, detective measures, and corrective measures.

In addition, before building your disaster recovery plan, make sure that it can provide an answer to these basic questions:

  1. What is the objective and the purpose of making one?
  2. Who are the assigned team responsible when certain events occur?
  3. What is the framework and the procedure to be followed?

Plan for the worst case scenario

Since you’re planning for an unforeseen event, you might as well make sure that you have plan for the worst case scenario. That way, you’ll never be overwhelmed and you’re as prepared as you can be for any situation.

Having different tiers of backup plans is also advisable. It gives you a better assurance that when bad comes to worst, you have a system in place to make sure that these disasters are handled correctly, regardless of the disaster’s severity.

Data issues

One of the objectives of disaster recovery plan is to protect the collection of data. Almost half of the total population of business organizations experiences data loss from both physical and virtual environments. This is often due to corruption of the file system, broken internal virtual disks, and hardware failures. Thus, there is a real need for established data recovery plans such as backup features offered by many IT solution vendors.

Test-drive

Before deploying your disaster recovery plan, you need to have a sort of a test-drive to check if it works. Aside from making it work, you also need to know if it’s going to be effective. Through testing, any shortcomings can be identified and will garner corresponding resolutions to improve on your plan. Although the real score of its effectiveness can only be identified once a disaster occurs, at least you will have an idea of how your business and the recovery plan can operate during a disaster.

Building an effective disaster recovery plan is a must for your business. This might not directly lead to a positive impact on productivity but it will surely save you in the events that can possibly crush your business. Anticipating and adjusting for the things that might happen is one of the keys to a company’s success.

Setting up an effective DRP can be quite an intricate process since there are several elements that you need to consider. Should you want to learn more, give us a call and we’ll have our associates help you develop and test a plan that works best for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 26th, 2013

BCP_Dec23_CIt appears as if there is an increase in disasters striking companies around the globe. From something as small as a hacker stealing important information, to as large as a disaster that leaves your premises in ruins, disaster can strike at any time. Many companies are starting to develop plans to prepare for any disasters, two of the most common being Disaster Recovery (DR) and a Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

What is a BCP?

BCP entered the mainstream just before the year 2000, with the Y2K scare. It's a plan that covers the way a business plans for and maintains critical business functions, directly before, during and after a disaster.

The majority of plans are comprised of activities that ensure maintenance, stability, and recoverability of service. The plan is typically set up on a day-to-day basis, and covers the whole organization. In other words, it's a plan on how to remain operational during and after a disaster.

The main reason companies implement a plan like this is because they wish to remain able to provide their service or product to customers. If something happens and you are not able to deliver to your customers, there is a risk that they will simply go to another company. This will obviously cause you to lose not only customers, but valuable income, some of which may be needed to further recovery.

What is DR?

Disaster Recovery is really more focused on what happens after a disaster. Many times, it's actually a part of the overall continuity plan. While BCP focuses on the whole business, DR plans tend to focus more on the technical side of the business. This includes components such as data backup and recovery, and computer systems.

It's best to think of a BCP as an umbrella policy, with DR as part of it. If companies don't have a DR component of their overall continuity plan, there is a good chance the whole strategy will be either less effective, or useless. On the other hand, DR can actually stand alone, and many companies can do just fine without a full continuity plan.

What should DR and BCP contain?

While these plans are slightly different, they do share the same common goals - to offer support and assistance during a disaster. Therefore, regardless of what type of plan you decide to adopt, there are common elements both need to incorporate in order to be successful.
  1. An operational plan for potential disasters that could happen in your geographical area.
  2. A succession plan for you or your top management.
  3. Employee training and cross-training. Your employees should know their role in the plan and be trained in other responsibilities should someone else be unable to perform their role.
  4. A communication plan that includes ways of communicating if networks are down.
  5. Off-site locations for staff and managers to meet and work.
  6. A focus on safety. Foster partnerships and communication with local and emergency response services. Ideally, all employees should at least know basic first aid. Employees who are members of local Emergency Response Teams make great team leaders.
  7. Daily backups of your systems and data. Be sure to also train staff in the testing and recovery of systems.
  8. Training and testing of all employees to practice recovery activities in realistic role-playing scenarios.
  9. Regular audits and updates of your plans to ensure they are still relevant and able to protect your systems and company.
With a plan that is carefully prepared, tested, and updated on a regular basis, you should be able to better weather any disaster. If you are looking for information on how to develop or improve your plans get in touch with us today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

November 29th, 2013

BCP_Nov25_CTyphoon Haiyan hit the Philippines the morning of November 8 leaving a path of unimagined destruction. As with other natural disasters, many business owners who watched the destruction unfold on the news have been questioning the safety of employees and whether their business is ready for a potential disaster with a solid business continuity plan in place. One thing they may be unsure about is how they can use technology to help prepare for, and make it through the the next disaster.

Technology can help small to medium sized businesses develop and execute both disaster recovery and business continuity plans in many ways. Here are five:

1. It helps enable more efficient communication

The majority of business owners and employees now have smartphones, tablets and laptops that they use on a daily basis. What these devices have done is enable better communication, which is also a major part of a continuity plan.

With a multitude of chat apps like WhatsApp, Google Hangouts and iMessenger, companies can set up group chats that can be accessed via multiple devices from nearly anywhere. This means that you can get information out fast, with a higher chance of reaching the people you need to during and after a disaster.

Combine this with virtualized systems like email and VoIP, both of which are usually hosted off-site and are highly likely to remain optional during a disaster, and you further boost the chances and effectiveness of communication.

2. It makes developing plans easier

Let's face it, when developing a recovery or continuity plan, there is a ton of factors that you need to consider and actually plan for. These plans can get complicated and hard to track and manage very quickly, and any plan that is either overcomplicated or poorly managed runs the risk of failing when implemented.

This is why there are numerous well-designed software options that allow businesses to not only develop, but track, implement and share recovery and continuity plans with greater effectiveness than manual systems.

What's more, is many of these solutions are created using industry standards and can often help you apply proven methods that may not have been previously possible.

3. It makes recovery easier and quicker

Traditional data backup systems require a physical backup like a hard drive or tape. When you do need to recover systems, it can take hours or days. Now, many IT partners offer cloud backup services which store your information in the cloud.

When you need to recover data, you can usually log on to any computer with an Internet connection and have your files and data back in a fairly short amount of time. This means that your company can return to as near full operation status as quickly as possible without much loss of time and consequently, profit.

4. It makes coordination during a disaster easier

As stated above, most professionals have multiple devices that allow them to connect with colleagues and customers with ease. Business owners therefore have a variety of quick and easy ways to try and connect to employees in a time of emergency, allowing for a higher chance of coordinating and executing a plan of action.

5. It helps minimize disruptions

By employing technical solutions like virtualization and cloud services, essentially moving services off site, you will be able to remain operational or recover quickly. This is largely because many solutions have redundant servers, so if one fails another can take over and still keep your systems available.

There are many ways technology can be employed in order to make planning for disasters and even recovering from them less challenging. If you are looking to learn more about how technology can help your business, get in touch.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 31st, 2013

BCP_Oct30_CData is one of the most important aspects of your company. From data on customers to important emails, or even databases with billing, the data in your company is vital. Therefore, it is recommended that you take steps to back it up. In truth, many companies are starting to do this, but they may be missing out on some crucial ways they can protect their data.

If you are looking to protect your data, one of the best ways to do so is to be informed, and learn from the mistakes other companies make when they develop data protection or Business Continuity Plans.

1. Not backing up data It may seem like common sense when preparing for a disaster or developing a continuity plan that you should back up your data. However, a 2011 study from Semantic found that only half of businesses back up more than 60% of their data. Other businesses don't back up data or only back up certain systems. This means that if these businesses are faced with a disaster, they could lose up to 40% of their data. Some businesses could lose all of it.

Many experts suggest that businesses not only back up their data, but take more of an all-or-nothing approach. All data should be backed up so that should a disaster happen you can guarantee that nothing will be lost.

2. Failing to protect off site data Business is becoming increasingly spread out, with many employees working from outside of the office, or on their own systems. People who telecommute or use their own systems usually store important data on their local machines. When a company goes to protect or back up their data, some may forget to back up data on machines outside of the company premises.

What's more, some industries have regulations stating that you must back up data from all end-points (e.g., computers and devices) regardless of their location. So, when you are backing up data, be sure that you also back up data on systems that aren't in the office.

3. Not backing up data consistently The data in your business is always evolving and growing. Therefore, you need to ensure that it is backed up regularly. Because backups take time, there is a higher chance for them to fail. If you only back up once a year without checking, and disaster strikes, you could find that your data is incomplete, inaccessible or out of date. This may make any recovered data essentially useless.

The question is, how often should you back up your data? For most small businesses, a full backup at least once a week is suggested. If you work with client data on a regular basis or in a regulated industry, daily backups would likely be the best plan.

4. Using outdated backup methods Just because you back up your data doesn't mean it will always be available, especially if you use older backup methods such as data tapes or disks. These physical backups can be lost or even destroyed in a disaster and possibly even stolen. You may want to employ a more modern data backup solution that is more reliable, such as cloud backup.

That being said, you don't have to give up older methods as these can come in handy, especially if you are going to be operating without the Internet for an extended period of time. By employing more than one solution, you can cover all bases while ensuring that data is largely backed up and available.

If you are looking to learn more about how you can protect your data, please contact us today to see how our systems and solutions can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 3rd, 2013

BCP_Sep30_CAs we all know, disasters can strike at any time. Business owners and managers often go to great lengths to ensure that their business is protected or prepared for any disaster by implementing contingency plans. During a disaster however, the biggest issue businesses face is communication. If this breaks down, even the best laid plans will go to waste.

Here are five tips on how to ensure better communication during a disaster.

1. Have more than one way to communicate During a disaster, you have to assume that communications will be affected in some way. Therefore, you should take steps to ensure that your company has more than one way to communicate with employees and people outside of your organization.

This could include mobile phones that are used only for disasters, extra phone lines, VoIP, etc. The key here is to identify how potential disasters could affect communications and look for alternative methods or ways to communicate.

2. Coordinate responders During some disasters, it's not the communications themselves that cause further problems, but uncoordinated responders. In times of disaster, people react based on what they think will work best in the moment.

If you have not taken steps to ensure that all responders are on the same page, and know what they should be doing to not only carry out the recovery plan but also communicate, you could face a total breakdown.

When developing your strategy, take the time to ensure that the selected responders and communications leaders are up-to-date and are aware of what is expected of them and how they should go about communicating during a disaster. Cross-training employees so they can carry out other roles if necessary, can be a good back up too.

3. Coordinate responses During a disaster, you will have to communicate with parties outside of your business. This may be the media, shareholders or other businesses. If you have a disgruntled employee, or one who is not aware of the full situation when answering questions, the impact of the disaster could be exacerbated.

It is beneficial to develop standard responses and methods of responding during a disaster. As a small to medium business owner it is tempting to take on this role yourself. However, while you should definitely be a key person to respond to questions from parties outside of your business, having other people in place who can cover this role might help mitigate disaster.

4. Communicate outward In times of disaster it can be easy to forget that other people and businesses rely on you. If they are not fully aware of what is going on, there is a chance of compounding problems and even losing business.

When disaster strikes, your company should take steps to communicate with parties outside of your organization as to what is going on, what you are doing to fix the problem and if there is any help/changes you need. After all, the more people who are informed of the situation, the greater the chance that support will be available and more effective.

5. Be honest There is a temptation to put spin on a disaster within your organization and embellish the truth, or play it down so as to not make your business appear in a bad light. This could cause further problems though if important people find out that you have not been totally upfront and transparent.

All it would take is one employee mentioning a hidden fact to a friend and the truth could come out and potentially damage your brand reputation and possibly lose you business. Therefore, when communicating with outside parties and with your employees, be honest and open as to what is really going on. This will make communication easier, and could even help lessen the long-term impact of the disaster.

If you are looking for communications systems or disaster recovery plans that will help see you through any disaster, please contact us today to see how our solutions can support you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 13th, 2013

BCP_Sep09_CTypically August through October are months in which a greater number of natural disasters happen, in the northern hemisphere at least. In an effort to drive awareness and help businesses prepare for potential disasters FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Association) has named September as National Preparedness Month. You should take a minute and think about whether your business is prepared for a disaster.

When it comes to preparing for a disaster, especially a natural disaster, there are so many things you need to plan for and prep. Frankly, it can be overwhelming. We found that a good place to start is to prepare two aspects of your business: Your employees and your physical assets.

Tips for preparing your employees Many business owners view their employees as the most valuable assets. If a disaster strikes you will rely on them to not only execute any plans you have developed but to also help keep the business running. Unfortunately, if the disaster is big enough your employees will also be affected. With this in mind, you need to ensure that you prepare your staff as well as your business.

Here's four tips on how you can do that:

  1. Help your employees plan - It is a good idea to provide your employees with information and tips on how to prepare for a disaster and what they and their family should do during this time. There is a wealth of information on FEMA's Ready site to start with. Beyond that, you should also record contact numbers and if employees need any additional support.
  2. Develop a set of different plans - Disasters come in all sizes and varieties. You should be prepared for this with different plans as to what to do during an actual disaster. Most experts agree that creating an evacuation, shelter-in-place and lockdown plan will cover most scenarios. Regardless of the plan, there should be an identified safe location and information on how to get there.
  3. Implement a warning system - In order for your plans to be effective, employees need to know when to implement them. The easiest way to do this is to develop a warning system. It could be something as easy as an email, phone tree or texts. On top of that, ensure that the building's warning systems like fire alarms and detectors are working.
  4. Emergency supplies - If you are caught in a disaster and stuck inside your office, you are going to need supplies like water, food, blankets, communication devices and even first aid. Take the time to put together emergency supplies that can be easily accessed and will meet your immediate needs.
Tips for preparing your business and physical assets While your employees are your most valuable asset, they likely aren't very productive without a physical place to work - your office or business premises. In order for any disaster-oriented plans to truly work, it's a good idea to take steps to secure your physical assets and safeguard your company. Here's four tips on how:
  1. Know all about your insurance coverage - In late June many businesses and homeowners in Calgary Canada, were heavily affected by floods. Many of these businesses went on to find out that their insurance didn't cover floods because they aren't common to the area. This is a perfect example of why you should review your insurance coverage. You should be careful to check what level of coverage you have and if you are insured for property damage. Then, check with your broker for any recommendations or suggestions.
  2. Assume utilities will be disrupted - During large-scale disasters you can be 100% sure that some, or all, utilities will be disrupted. You should take steps to mitigate the potential effects. For example, look into portable generators for power and gas powered heaters if necessary.
  3. Safeguard the building - There are many stories of businesses that when faced with disaster come out much better than their neighbors. Most attribute this to the fact that they took steps to prepare their physical location. This could be as simple as installing new fire alarms, detectors and even new entrance/exit doors. You should also take steps to safeguard systems - ensure that valuable equipment is secure from unauthorized access and that all safeguards are recorded in case rescue teams or an external party need access.
  4. Keep data and systems secure - Disasters may not physically affect your business. In fact, many disasters are now cyber based. It could be a hacker has managed to access your systems and has stolen or deleted all of your customer data, or a power surge takes out an integral server. You should take steps to ensure that your data and computer systems are secure from external and internal threats.
If you would like to learn more about how to prepare your business for disaster, why not check out these excellent resources on FEMA's Business Preparedness site. Or, you could always contact us to see how our systems can help ensure you remain operational during any disaster.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 8th, 2013

BCP_Aug05_CAn important business process that many companies have been adopting in increasing numbers is business continuity. This is the strategy and action of preparing your business for disaster and ensuring that important business functions are still available to stakeholders during the time disaster strikes. While these contingency plans are vital, many businesses struggle to create a strategy that will actually work effectively.

Here are six tips to help ensure that your business continuity efforts will work.

1. Know your risks When creating a business continuity plan, or updating existing operations, it is a good idea to step back and as a group - with key staff - identify all possible risks to your organization. It's important to focus on risks both from within and outside the organization. No risk is too small, even if it and issue that could only affect one person or department.

You should also try to detail the consequences and what could happen should these defined risks come to fruition. This will give you a better idea of areas that need to be improved and potential problematic systems or positions. From here, you can also better develop a more solid plan that has a higher chance of succeeding.

2. Ensure your plan matches your business Because business continuity planning can be complex, many small businesses prefer to use ready made plans and templates. The problem with these is that they may not provide exactly what you need - most of these templates are fairly general. While we aren't saying you shouldn't use a template, and they can save time and money, you need to be sure that you either find a template that covers your business, or you adapt it to fit your business needs.

Pay close attention to where the plan fits in with your company, the scale of your company compared to the plan, available resources, where your work and how your employees work (remotely, onsite, both, etc.). If these differ from the template or current plan, you should take steps to modify or update your strategy to ensure it meets your needs.

3. Be sure that all staff buy in It is usually pretty easy to get the staff under your command to buy into a business continuity plan - after all, they may have helped modify or come up with the plan. What you have to ensure is that all upper management and stakeholders are not only aware of the plan, how it will work and when it is to be activated, but also support it.

One way to do this is to have a signoff sheet where all managers and key employees sign their names to ensure that they understand and support the plan. If you have holdouts, you should work with them to figure out what aspects of the plan they disagree with and work out if they have better or alternative solutions to bring to the table.

4. Keep your plan up to date A common mistake many businesses make is to develop a great continuity plan, but then not update it. Businesses and the climate around them are always changing. Having a plan that was workable five years ago will likely not meet your exact needs today.

To ensure that your business continuity plan is viable it is recommend that you update it on a yearly basis, or certainly when you undergo a big change in your business. Be sure to pay attention to whom has changed roles, any new systems introduced or retired and any changes to the core business

5. Communication is key Communication is a crucial part of any business. In order to have a continuity plan that actually works, you need to ensure that you communicate with all staff, and that they know not only their roles but who to report to and what to do if they are unable to reach the office, for example.

It is also be a good idea to communicate with those outside of the business who could be affected by a disaster that impacts your company. Generally, all parties involved should know and have access to the plan and be informed of updates or changes. Employees should also see how disasters might affect not only the company and their individual role in it, but people outside of the organization as well.

6. Practice Think of any professional athlete. They didn't get to where they are today by sitting around and not doing anything. They practiced their sport and took note of what needed to be improved upon, then went and worked on their game. The idea here is that you should practice implementing your plan on a regular basis. The timing depends on your business and propensity to danger. If you have defined a high amount of risk to your organization, it is a good idea to practice implementing the plan once every two to three months. Most organizations should be fine with twice a year.

After each practice, teams should get together for experience sharing to talk about what they noticed worked well and what needs to be improved on. Then changes can be implemented and the plan evolved.

If you are looking to integrate a business continuity plan in your business, or improve on an existing plan, contact us today to see how we can create a viable, workable solution that will minimize negative impact on your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 11th, 2013

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.