The holidays are behind us – which means the cold days of winter, and the arrival of winter storms, are what we have to look forward to for the next few months.
Winter storms can present significant communication and productivity issues for your business, and if you are not prepared with a comprehensive business continuity plan tailored to your specific needs, these storms also have the potential to take your organization down for days at a time.
Is your company ready for winter storm season? Here are four questions you should be asking yourself before those snowflakes start falling this year.
Do You Have a Business Continuity Plan?
Let’s start with the most basic question – does your company even have a business continuity plan in place?
Quite often, when we ask companies this question, we discover that what they think is a business continuity strategy are just some disaster recovery (DR) plans. They have a DR solution in place, but not a true business continuity strategy.
DR is an important part of a comprehensive business continuity plan, but alone, it is not enough. Yes, you want to be able to recover from a disaster, but as Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Recovering with a DR process is what you do after there has been a disaster or data loss, but a great business continuity plan can actually prevent that loss in the first place and help you and your team remain productive even while the storm is raging outside.
So once again, do you have a true BC plan in place, or just a DR solution?
Have You Tested Your Business Continuity Plan? / Is Everyone Aware of the Role They Will Play if a Storm Hits?
Having a BC plan is great, but if you’ve never tested the plan, how do you know it will work when you need it most?
Testing the plan on a regular basis (we recommend at least one comprehensive test each year, plus a quarterly file restore test to make sure the data integrity is there) helps you to identify any areas of the plan that may need to be reworked or improved. It’s much better to make those discoveries during a test where you can remediate the problems afterwards, rather than learning of a failure when there is an actual disaster that you are dealing with.
Testing a BC also gets your team members up-to-speed on their responsibilities should that plan need to be enacted. The bottom line is that your plan is only as good as the people who will carry it out. If your employees are not aware of their responsibilities when it comes to getting your business back up and running, there’s a pretty good chance your plan will fail. Testing can help prevent that by training your team so that when the storm hits, they’re ready.
A few final notes on testing and assigning roles to employees:
Assigning specific, non-overlapping tasks to members of your team will help to avoid further confusion in an already complex situation.
It’s also a good idea to have at least two staff members who know how to carry out each job. This way, if the individual in charge of a key business continuity task is sick or on vacation when disaster strikes, you’ll have a backup in place.
What Are Your Recovery Time Objectives and Priorities by Facility and Application?
If you have more than one office, it’s important to establish which location is the most important when it comes to getting your organization back up and running again.
Prioritizing business applications is another key step in planning the recovery of your business operations. Which applications should be prioritized as critical to the business and which ones are secondary? Understanding these priorities, for locations, applications, and more, should be both a part of your comprehensive BC/DR plan and what you test for during an annual run-through of your plan.
What is the Cost of Downtime for Your Organization?
Accept the reality that even with a solid BC/DR plan in place, a disruptive event can impact your company and halt operations. While planning and testing will help you get back up and running as quickly and smoothly as possible, disruptive events do happen and expecting zero downtime is wishful thinking. To this end, whether the disruptive event in question is a natural disaster like a blizzard, or some other unexpected situation such as a power outage, ransomware attack, or simple human error, you should understand the true impact to your organization’s bottom line when hit with one of these common occurrences.
Through our partnership with Zerto, we present a Downtime Calculator. With this tool you can enter actual data that is relevant to your business to see firsthand what every second of downtime does to your bottom line. Side note – are you looking for a way to convince management that an investment in BC/DR is worthwhile? Use this tool to show them the difference between a recovery effort that takes one hour versus one that takes four hours or more! In our experience, conversations about BC investments go much smoother once management can see some real numbers as to what the cost of downtime looks like for your organization.
We Can Help
Your responsibility is to ensure that your company and your people can remain productive even when the storm is raging. Envision is the only company who can mobilize a business continuity solution for you in thirty days, or you pay nothing. Think that sounds too good to be true? It isn’t. Let us show you how our “Business Continuity Solutions Accelerator” will take the pain out of designing the right BC/DR solution and carrying that project to completion. Give us a call at (401) 272-6688 and let us show you how we can help you protect your business this season.
Explore our business continuity services to find out how your team can remain productive in the face of large disruptions to work.