A Business Continuity Plan for Surviving the End of the World

Business Survival Guide - Tips for Continuity

In a virtual global economy any down time can equate to loss of profits and productivity. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy IT logistics must be considered and protection plans implemented to prevent loss of data and ensure business continuity.

Having a business continuity plan is vital for companies to function sequentially in the event of power failures, intentional or accidental mishaps and environmental disasters. Without a business continuity and risk management plan in place not only will top end growth be damaged, client trust may diminish as a result of companies’ inability to perform and deliver results and lost data could prevent a company from reopening their doors.

Business Survival guide: Tips for business continuity

          1.  Invest in the Cloud:

Environmental disasters however irregularly they occur can destroy your business premises and all of the valuable infrastructure and data within the building. Whilst the infrastructure can be easily replaced the data cannot. Data losses cost companies 3.5% of turnover on average. Significant data losses have an even more harrowing effect on businesses; 43% never reopen and 29% of businesses shut down within 2 years of losing the data.

Housing data offsite within the cloud prevents companies losing data if work on premise is disrupted due to fire, power failures or environmental disasters. Functioning in the cloud with multiple servers in different locales will mean that companies will be able to switch servers to access email, CRM and vital documents for business continuity. Cloud computing allows employees to access servers remotely so that no matter where your business may be operating out of your employees can be efficient, productive & proactive ensuring your company doesn’t miss a beat.

Apocalyptic disasters aside bring your own device (BYOD) trend and the current 1.2 billion mobile employees increase the likelihood of duplicate or missing data without a cloud based solution in place. Mobile employees are set to take up 70% of the work force in the US in 2013 so it’s prudent that your company invest in a CRM software solution that supports mobile and cloud solutions.
CRM offerings such as mobile CRM for wealth management allows employees to sync work done offline and remotely with the data in the servers. This will prevent loss of data and mean that you will have business continuity. There are also many offerings that not cater to small business.

          2.  Communication:

Communication is paramount for a business continuity plan to be successful. In instances like Hurricane Sandy where employees have been dispersed across New York, some without power and water, internal communication has been essential for understanding the challenges facing the company and how it can be tackled. In some instances this has meant putting up employees in hotels so that they would have access to a power supply and Wi-Fi. Internal communications ensures that all employees know how to help provide business continuity.

External communications with customers and clients will also help to create transparency and trust with your valuable customers. By communicating with customers the problems your company is having and how it may disrupt your service you are being proactive. It is much better to mitigate any problems that may arise with customers before it happens rather than after the fact. Customers will also be more understanding if they know that there will be disruptions to the service.

          3.  Make a list and check it twice

After implementing a risk management and business continuity plan tests should be carried out to insure that both the backup IT infrastructure works and employees know what to do in the event of a contingency plan. This includes ensuring employees can remotely access the company database from home and having a data recovery plan in place to prevent loss of data.

During Hurricane Sandy some hospitals after losing access to IT systems during the storm were able to revert to paper records others were not. This raises the question of whether or not to include hard copies in your data recovery plan. Whilst most would recommend not having a paper trail to reduce chances of data duplication if your company cannot afford to be without this data at any time perhaps having a paper copy may be useful for times of emergency.

The financial exchange also shut down during the storm. This seemed to be due to government regulators in ability to police a completely electronic finance market. This should have been discussed and planned for as part of a business continuity plan.

Running tests and creating a dialogue with all involved will allow your company to envision any problems that may arise and how to combat them. Let your IT department get creative

Good cloud computing infrastructure, a robust CRM package and strong communication and planning will ensure that whatever occurs your business will be able to stay up and running.

For more information on investor relations marketing, CRM or a package that meets your industry needs speak to a consultant in your area.

[Image source: John Chandler via Flickr]

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