If the worst were to happen to your business IT system, could you carry on working? Careful continuity planning and a reliable backup system will ensure you can keep operating with minimal disruption.
Business continuity planning involves anticipating problems which could disrupt your company’s ability to operate properly. For business IT, these problems typically fall into two categories:
It’s important your disaster planning measures ensure fast business recovery for key systems.
Good continuity planning involves methodically examining the threats to your business:
Your continuity planning should prioritise threats with the highest likelihood of happening and the potential to cause most damage.
Identify and eliminate single points of failure. For instance, a power cut could take your server offline. Or, if your customer database is held in a cloud computer service, losing your internet connection could leave you unable to check customer details.
In both cases, you might consider adding backup systems. An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) can keep your server running, and a cheap broadband service can provide a secondary internet connection.
As well as taking steps to reduce the likelihood of the scenarios you identify occurring, your business recovery plan should describe how your organisation will react in the event of a problem.
Once you’ve put a business recovery plan together, test it. See how your communications work in practice, and how long it takes you to get working again.
You may wish to consider your business recovery plan when negotiating with IT suppliers. For example, you might want to pay your support company for a faster response time in the event of important systems failing.
Your continuity planning should include a backup system, so you have a safe copy of key data. A number of factors will influence your choice of backup system:
Whichever backup system you choose, it’s important to keep backups in a different place to the main copy of the data. Test your backups regularly – many businesses neglect this step, only to discover their backups are useless when they have a real emergency.
It’s increasingly common for companies to use cloud backup, rather than creating backup copies of their data locally. This sees your business pay a fee each month for a service that backs your data up over the internet.