When it comes to keeping your business – and your ICT – running as usual, there are several things to consider.
What will you do if your network goes down?
What will happen in the event of a data breach?
How are you backing up and storing your data, and is it safe and secure?
What would happen if a flood or fire shut down your head office?
While you can plan for many things in business, some things can come out of nowhere and catch you completely off-guard. That’s where business continuity, disaster recovery and contingency planning come in.
While they won’t stop a mission-critical event from occurring, with the right plans and strategies in place, you can mitigate the impacts of certain events and minimise the disruption they cause.
However, to develop a robust business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) strategy, you need to first understand what each entails.
What is business continuity?
Business continuity is all about having plans and solutions in place to ensure that if your workplace, systems or data became inaccessible, your business would still be able to operate with as little downtime as possible.
While unforeseen events like a flood, fire or power outage could prevent your business from operating normally, so could things like cyberattack, theft, human error, accidental damage or the sudden departure of a key employee.
In the past 12 months, many businesses will have felt the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has fundamentally changed how many organisations work.
Coronavirus restrictions meant that almost overnight, many businesses were not allowed to return to the workplace and had to quickly enable staff to work remotely or from home instead.
For businesses with a solid business continuity plan in place, this transition would have been relatively smooth.
For businesses that didn’t, the need to move to a more remote working model may have resulted in lost sales and revenue and increased downtime and disruption while they got back up and running.
Some of the things you’ll need to include in an effective business continuity strategy include how you facilitate remote working, how you are backing up and securing your critical data and whether you can relocate to temporary business premises.
It’s also important to consider whether staff can be deployed to alternative roles and if you can fall back on alternative contractors or suppliers should your main ones become unavailable.
What is disaster recovery?
Disaster recovery is the process of getting your business operations back to normal in the event of a disaster.
If your business has suffered a critical event that has disrupted its normal operations, a disaster recovery plan will help you transition back to business as usual.
One of the key things you’ll need to consider when creating a disaster recovery plan is what software or services you need in place to help get you back to normal.
This is known as Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS).
DRaaS replicates and hosts your physical or virtual servers by a third party and provides failover to a cloud environment.
As a result, DRaaS enables your business operations to continue virtually, in a secure cloud location, before your primary systems are restored.
Having a DRaaS solution in place means that if your on-premise or offsite data becomes unavailable, you can quickly get your business back up and running by automatically switching to your replicated data in the cloud when disaster strikes.
However, having a DRaaS solution in place won’t solve your problem entirely.
You’ll also need to consider who is responsible for carrying out recovery tasks and how you will go about recovering from infrastructure failure or data loss.
If you don’t have the resource or expertise in-house to oversee this, then investing in the services of an external BCDR specialist can pay dividends.
What is contingency planning?
A contingency plan combines both your business continuity and disaster recovery efforts into a single document.
It will outline exactly what steps your business will need to take in the event of an incident that could significantly disrupt your normal business operations.
This might be because your physical workspace becomes inaccessible, there is a problem with your ICT infrastructure or network, or you lose a key supplier or member of staff.
It’s all about documenting your business-critical operations, then thinking about what could be done in each scenario to minimise the risks to your business.
It’s vital to ensure this plan is reviewed and updated regularly. If the past 12 months have taught us anything, it’s that things in business can change very quickly and have a lasting impact.
So, doing all you can to prepare yourself and put in place the measures to minimise disruption and downtime will help you weather the storm.
How can BCDR help?
BCDR provides industry-leading business continuity and disaster recovery solutions to help businesses get back up and running quickly in the event of a critical data loss.
We enable SMEs to secure their networks and data.
Unlike other providers, our service is primarily built around ensuring business continuity to keep downtime to a minimum so businesses can continue to provide exceptional service to their own customers.
If you’re looking for a new approach to business continuity and disaster recovery, we’ve got your back.
Get in touch today to find out more.