Thursday, November 28th, 2013
On November 8 typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines leaving a trail of unimaginable destruction. Watching the various news channels covering the disaster and recovery, business owners can't help but reflect how a disaster would affect their ability to cope and survive, as well as the safety of those they work with, of course. This is why many businesses implement business continuity plans. However, in doing so, they may not necessarily know how technology can help.
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 … Continue reading the story "Technology and business continuity"
Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
One of the most important aspects of your business is the data you store. From client information to emails and even whole business functions, the data you store needs to be protected. While companies are starting to take steps to protect data, many are not taking enough steps to ensure efficient backup.
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 … Continue reading the story "Backing up data? Avoid these mistakes"
Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013
Communication during disaster
A disaster can happen at any time, and be of varying severity. Many business owners and managers understand this and have already responded to this potential reality by taking steps to develop plans on what to do during a disaster. While these plans will likely help keep a business operational, their weakest point is communication. During a disaster communication is key to survival, and it is often more of a challenge to achieve than it might seem.
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 … Continue reading the story "Communication during disaster"
Thursday, September 12th, 2013
The months of August through October are widely considered to be the worst for natural disasters in the northern hemisphere. In an effort to help bring awareness to this fact and to help businesses prepare for potential disasters, FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Association) has named September as Disaster Preparedness Month. Take a minute and ask yourself if, when it comes to business, you are prepared.
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:
- 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. … Continue reading the story "Is your business ready for a disaster?"
Wednesday, September 4th, 2013
A disaster can strike at any time and in on any level of severity. Recent big-scale disasters have shown that some small to medium businesses simply aren't prepared, or prepared enough, for a disaster. Companies of all sizes are however starting to come around and adopt disaster recovery plans. One issue many businesses face is how to go about starting a plan. One solution may be DRaaS. But what does this mean?
DRaaS stands for Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service, and is a cloud based service offered by an increasing number of tech companies. The concept is similar to other cloud based services like Software-as-a-Service, where the solution is delivered and managed by an IT partner.
DRaaS is a Disaster Recovery solution provided by a vendor that businesses can purchase. With most DRaaS solutions the vendor helps develop and implement a disaster recovery plan that fits the needs of the company that they will then manage to ensure that the systems are running properly.
When a disaster strikes, the vendor can work with you to help get your systems back online as fast as possible. Often this is quicker than other solutions, largely because the vendor's systems will likely not be affected by the disaster.
It is for this reason that many companies are becoming increasingly interested in this form of disaster recovery solution. Many smaller businesses also seem more open to it because it's a managed service. As these businesses likely don't have a disaster recovery specialist on staff, finding … Continue reading the story "DRaaS – what does it mean?"
Wednesday, August 7th, 2013
Disasters can affect a business at any time and to any degree of severity. In an effort to reduce or hinder the damage that can result from a disaster, while also keeping the business working, many companies have taken to adopting business continuity plans. These plans can be quite complex and many businesses have run into problems actually making these theories work. Has this happened to you?
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. … Continue reading the story "Will your continuity plan work?"
Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
For many countries in the Northern Hemisphere, it's either the tail-end or start of disaster season. From fires to floods, or even massive heat waves, there will be many regions affected by a disaster this year. Many businesses take steps to prepare for a disaster, often adopting a Business Continuity Plan. The problem is, the plan may fail due to a number of possible reasons.
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 … Continue reading the story "Why Continuity plans fail"
Wednesday, June 12th, 2013
Disaster can strike at anytime and in any form when it comes to business and sometimes something as seemingly straightforward as dropping a hard drive can really create havoc. Regardless of what disaster may occur, one will eventually strike your organization. To stave off the negative effects many companies have instituted a disaster recovery plan, which involves data backup. You may have heard of offsite backup, but do you know what it is, and how it can help?
Here are five benefits and a definition of offsite backup.
Offsite backup defined
The definition of offsite backup can be a bit difficult to nail down, as when many IT providers talk about this idea they are usually referring to one of a number of different kinds of backup. The key idea revolving around offsite backup is that your company's data and backups are sent out of your physical location(s). In other words, your backups are not stored in your office or building.
Offsite backup is usually done in one of two ways:
- Physical transport - This can range from something as simple as copying important files onto a removable hard drive and storing this in another location, to backing up entire systems on tape and storing them off site.
- Remote backup - This is a more modern approach to data backup, whereby your data and files are stored on servers located off site. This form of backup is commonly referred to as 'cloud backup'.
For the purpose of this article, we will focus on remote backup … Continue reading the story "Offsite backup – 5 benefits!"
Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
Take a moment and think about your business and if you are prepared for a disaster. If you are like most business owners or managers you have some form of backup and maybe even a basic disaster recovery plan. While this is a start, recent big disasters around the world have proven that a simple backup is not enough. If you feel that your business is under prepared, there are steps you can take to fix that.
Here are five tips to help ensure that your business is fully ready for the next disaster.
1. Backup everything
While it can be tempting to only backup the most important data and programs, it can be a chore to identify what is deemed to be important. Who knows, a file that is non-essential today may become essential in the future. If it is lost due to a disaster, this could prove to be a problem.
It would be a good idea to look for a backup solution that covers all data and programs. But, having a full backup solution isn't enough, you also need to ensure that recovery is easy and can be implemented quickly.
2. Look into tiered recovery
Establishing a tiered recovery method means identifying the value and importance of existing systems and utilizing a recovery method that meets needs. It would be a good idea to identify mission critical systems and adopt a recovery method that can have these systems up and running as quickly as possible. From there you can tier different systems and match a recovery method. For example, archived … Continue reading the story "5 disaster preparedness tips"