Business Continuity is one of those often bandied around terms. However, not many people understand it fully. There are many facets to Business Continuity and, contrary to popular belief, the IT elements of it are relatively few compared to the bigger picture of business operations.
To give you an example, if a company makes widgets for distribution to wholesalers/retailers, their factory operations and production/order processes are far more important to them than word documents and account software when it comes to prioritisation for recovery/continuity of operations.
Preparing a business continuity plan
When preparing a business continuity plan, it is essential to consider the following:
- What your business does
- Your true priority of systems (not just IT) for recovery
- At what point would you make the decision to invoke your plan – when would you really be in a situation that meant that you needed to invoke your plan?
- Have you covered your staff/management communication processes?
- Are your systems optimised for business continuity?
One of the main issues when dealing with business continuity is the lack of consideration when planning systems/application designs. To ensure the success of any business continuity plan it is essential to make sure that any systems and applications are set up and configured in a way which won’t hinder any invocation of the plan. More often than not, systems are not streamlined and have been allowed to get too big or too complex to be able to get them up and running quickly in a disaster. This seems to be an escalating issue these days where applications are implemented without due consideration of business continuity and/or backup options. Functionality should almost be a secondary consideration to business continuity and backup.
Depending on how bad a disaster is and how optimised your systems are for business continuity, the cost of invoking a plan can be very high. It can be even more expensive to then roll back to a main/original system. Invoking a business continuity plan must be a very considered decision and only be made as a very last resort. Permanent loss of systems is a good time to invoke, however, a power cut (even if it may last several hours) is not. To bridge inconvenience, like power outage, other contingencies should be built into the systems.
For over 10 years, we have been recommending and supplying hosted Exchange email. This is excellent in terms of business continuity, as it means that you can stay in touch with your staff, management and suppliers during an outage in your office. With the advent of mobile email on hosted exchange, you can also keep on your email, even if your PC has no power.
A further service we can offer at Virtual IT is hosted Phone Systems. At Virtual IT, we use a hosted phone system also, along with hosted exchange. Due to this, we can have total loss of our office with minimum inconvenience to ourselves or our customers.
Please speak to your Account Manager or one of our Sales Executives if you have any questions on the above. We are here to help and can assist in producing a workable business continuity plan.