Your business needs a business continuity plan — here’s why

Do you know why some small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) fail during the first five years of operation? Poor leadership is one reason, inadequate capital is another. Another possible cause is the lack of preparation for major disruptions like natural disasters and cyberattacks. If you want to prevent this from happening to your business, you need a business continuity plan (BCP).

What is a BCP?

A BCP is a predefined set of protocols on how your business should respond in case of an emergency or natural disaster. It contains contingency plans for every aspect of your organization, including human resources, assets, and business processes.

Key threats to business continuity

Various types of threats can affect SMBs such as:

  • Natural disasters: These are natural phenomena such as floods, storms, earthquakes, and wildfires.
  • Man-made disasters: These include cyberattacks, intentional sabotage, and human negligence.
  • Equipment and utility failures: These include unexpected power failures, internet downtime, and disruption of communication services.

How to build an effective BCP

If your company does not have a BCP in place, now is a good time to create one. These steps will help you formulate an effective BCP that will ensure your company keeps running even during a major crisis.

  1. Perform a risk assessment
    To create an effective BCP, it’s important to identify the risks to prioritize. Start by identifying potential threats that may impact your daily operations. List down as well industry risks, geographical area, rising trends, and issues that your stakeholders may encounter. Next, categorize the risks based on the level of impact, likelihood of occurrence, or other criteria.Once risks have been identified and a plan has been developed, carefully identify any possible gaps. Collaborate with your team to identify any weak points in the plan, and make changes as necessary.
  2. Perform a business impact analysis (BIA)
    A BIA will help you determine how a disruption can affect your company’s current functions, processes, personnel, equipment, technology, and physical infrastructure. IT will also help you calculate the potential financial and operational loss from each function and process affected.
  3. Identify your recovery options
    Identify key resources for restoring your business to minimum operational levels. Some recovery options you can take include using data backups, allowing employees to work from home or operating from a secondary location.
  4. Document the plan
    Make a record of the BCP and store the document in a secure location, preferably an off-site one to reduce the risks of loss or damage in case of a disaster.
  5. Test and train
    Once your BCP is in place, your continuity team needs to perform tests regularly to identify gaps and make necessary changes to ensure the plan’s effectiveness. They also need to conduct regular employee training so that everyone knows their respective roles should a disaster strike.

Having an effective BCP is a great way to ensure your business can quickly recover after a major disaster. If you’re thinking about creating a BCP for your company but don’t know where to start, give us a call today.

This post was originally published on this site

What companies tend to get wrong about business continuity

Every business owner knows that having a business continuity plan (BCP) is crucial to surviving any disaster. However, some still tend to overlook certain aspects of a BCP strategy, causing the plan to go up in flames. Ensure a solid BCP by knowing these five critical mistakes to avoid.

Mistake 1: Not considering the small details

Once you’ve created a general business continuity plan, you need to think about the specifics to ensure that what you envision is executable. This includes fleshing out logistical considerations like medical aid and technology support.

For instance, you need to inform partner medical providers about your BCP so that they can make arrangements in advance. This may entail asking for key personnel whom your employees can directly contact if they ever need medical support during an incident. You may also need to figure out how your employees can securely access company data in case they can’t physically come to the office. Planning for the tiniest details may save your data and your employees’ lives, so run through your strategy regularly to ensure that they’re up to date and still effective.

Mistake 2: Failing to plan for employees

Companies that can bounce back after unexpected incidents are those that have thought about their employees’ needs when making a BCP, so plan every detail that may concern your staff during a disruption, from evacuation routes to emergency communication procedures. Doing so will ensure that your employees have everything they need to survive the worst.

Discuss your strategy with your employees and ask for their input in matters that concern their safety or ability to work. Also, let them know that you will be there to support them and their families in the event of a crisis. This way, your employees will have peace of mind knowing that the company is there for them, and this, in turn, ensures their loyalty.

Mistake 3: Not showing your employees how the BCP works

While many business owners worry about downtime, they may neglect to explain to employees how to effectively execute the BCP to minimize lost productivity.

Your staff are part of your overall plan, so they must know the BCP strategy to be able to carry out their roles satisfactorily. Demonstrate exactly how your employees are supposed to respond during a crisis, such as informing them who they’re supposed to contact during a natural disaster and what they’re supposed to say to clients if systems are down. Walk them through where and how they will work when the primary office is inaccessible. Then, have your staff do these tasks until they’re confident that they can perform them when a disaster strikes.

Mistake 4: Putting greater priority on operational continuity over employee safety

When an incident occurs, it’s understandable for business owners to assess the disaster’s impact on business. But being solely concerned with operational continuity and neglecting employees’ well-being and safety has consequences, too.

Check on your people first, as they are crucial in executing processes. If you have a data backup plan but no one to facilitate it, then your plan — no matter how meticulous — is rendered useless. Make sure that your workforce is reachable, safe, and able. Make it a priority for the crisis management team to contact your employees and see what help may be given to make their situation better. Supporting your team when the worst happens is a guarantee that they can get back on their feet and return to work more swiftly.

Mistake 5: Not having the right tech solutions in place

You shouldn’t wait for a natural disaster to hit before setting up a toll-free hotline that employees can call in for regular updates. You also shouldn’t wait for a data breach before you start looking for ways to secure your data backups. Without the proper technology solutions to mitigate an incident, your business might face increased risks, prolonged downtime, and steep revenue loss.

Talk to your IT department or consult with a technology specialist to ensure that you have all the tech safeguards you need in case things go south. The right IT solutions will streamline company-wide communication, secure workloads, and most likely minimize downtime.

Want to learn more about business continuity and how it can help your business? Contact us today.

This post was originally published on this site

What companies tend to get wrong about business continuity

Every business owner knows that having a business continuity plan (BCP) is crucial to surviving any disaster. However, some still tend to overlook certain aspects of a BCP strategy, causing the plan to go up in flames. Ensure a solid BCP by knowing these five critical mistakes to avoid.

Mistake 1: Not considering the small details

Once you’ve created a general business continuity plan, you need to think about the specifics to ensure that what you envision is executable. This includes fleshing out logistical considerations like medical aid and technology support.

For instance, you need to inform partner medical providers about your BCP so that they can make arrangements in advance. This may entail asking for key personnel whom your employees can directly contact if they ever need medical support during an incident. You may also need to figure out how your employees can securely access company data in case they can’t physically come to the office. Planning for the tiniest details may save your data and your employees’ lives, so run through your strategy regularly to ensure that they’re up to date and still effective.

Mistake 2: Failing to plan for employees

Companies that can bounce back after unexpected incidents are those that have thought about their employees’ needs when making a BCP, so plan every detail that may concern your staff during a disruption, from evacuation routes to emergency communication procedures. Doing so will ensure that your employees have everything they need to survive the worst.

Discuss your strategy with your employees and ask for their input in matters that concern their safety or ability to work. Also, let them know that you will be there to support them and their families in the event of a crisis. This way, your employees will have peace of mind knowing that the company is there for them, and this, in turn, ensures their loyalty.

Mistake 3: Not showing your employees how the BCP works

While many business owners worry about downtime, they may neglect to explain to employees how to effectively execute the BCP to minimize lost productivity.

Your staff are part of your overall plan, so they must know the BCP strategy to be able to carry out their roles satisfactorily. Demonstrate exactly how your employees are supposed to respond during a crisis, such as informing them who they’re supposed to contact during a natural disaster and what they’re supposed to say to clients if systems are down. Walk them through where and how they will work when the primary office is inaccessible. Then, have your staff do these tasks until they’re confident that they can perform them when a disaster strikes.

Mistake 4: Putting greater priority on operational continuity over employee safety

When an incident occurs, it’s understandable for business owners to assess the disaster’s impact on business. But being solely concerned with operational continuity and neglecting employees’ well-being and safety has consequences, too.

Check on your people first, as they are crucial in executing processes. If you have a data backup plan but no one to facilitate it, then your plan — no matter how meticulous — is rendered useless. Make sure that your workforce is reachable, safe, and able. Make it a priority for the crisis management team to contact your employees and see what help may be given to make their situation better. Supporting your team when the worst happens is a guarantee that they can get back on their feet and return to work more swiftly.

Mistake 5: Not having the right tech solutions in place

You shouldn’t wait for a natural disaster to hit before setting up a toll-free hotline that employees can call in for regular updates. You also shouldn’t wait for a data breach before you start looking for ways to secure your data backups. Without the proper technology solutions to mitigate an incident, your business might face increased risks, prolonged downtime, and steep revenue loss.

Talk to your IT department or consult with a technology specialist to ensure that you have all the tech safeguards you need in case things go south. The right IT solutions will streamline company-wide communication, secure workloads, and most likely minimize downtime.

Want to learn more about business continuity and how it can help your business? Contact us today.

This post was originally published on this site

Protecting your data from hurricanes

Hurricanes damage property and put lives at risk. If you’re not prepared, hurricanes can also disrupt your operations and put your business through extended downtime. In this blog, we’ll help you quickly regain access to your data and get your business back to operational mode after a disaster.

Determine recovery hierarchy

Certain parts of your IT system are more mission-critical than others. Ask yourself which systems and/or data must be recovered in minutes, hours, or days so your business can resume operations quickly

For example, you may find that recovering sensitive customer information and eCommerce systems take priority over recovering your email server. Whatever the case may be, prioritizing your systems ensures that the right ones are recovered quickly after a disaster.

Pay attention to location

First and foremost, your backup site should be in a hurricane-free zone. Ideally, your off-site facility should be located at least 100 miles away from your main location. If this isn’t possible, make sure it is built to withstand wind speeds of 160 miles per hour (as fast as Category 5 storms) and is supported by backup generators and uninterruptible power supplies.

You should also request an upper floor installation or, at the very least, keep critical IT equipment 18 inches off the ground to prevent water damage in case of floods.

Use image-based backups

Unlike fragile tape backups, image-based backups take “snapshots” of your systems, creating a copy of the OS, software, and data stored in them. From there, you can easily boot the virtual image on any device, allowing you to back up and restore critical business systems in seconds.

Take advantage of the cloud

The cloud enables you to host applications and store data in high-availability, geo-redundant servers. This means your backups can be accessed via the internet, allowing authorized users to access critical files from any device. Expert technicians will also watch over and secure your backups, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of enterprise-level backup facilities and IT support.

Back up your data frequently

Back up your data as often as possible, especially during disaster season. If your latest backups were created on September 15th and a storm makes landfall in your area on the 28th, you could lose nearly two weeks of data.

Test your disaster recovery (DR) plan

After setting up your backups, check whether they are restoring your files accurately and on time. Your employees should be drilled on the recovery procedures and their responsibilities during and after a disaster. Your DR team should also be trained on how to failover to the backup site before the storm hits. Finally, providers, contractors, and customers need to be notified about how the hurricane will affect your operations.

As cell towers and internet connections may be affected during a hurricane, make sure your company forums are online and have your employees register with the Red Cross Safe and Well website so you can check their statuses.

It’s nearly impossible to experience disruptions during disasters like Harvey or Irma, but with the right support, you can minimize downtime. If you’re concerned about any natural disasters putting you out of business, call us today. We offer comprehensive business continuity services that every company should have.

This post was originally published on this site

Protecting your data from hurricanes

Hurricanes damage property and put lives at risk. If you’re not prepared, hurricanes can also disrupt your operations and put your business through extended downtime. In this blog, we’ll help you quickly regain access to your data and get your business back to operational mode after a disaster.

Determine recovery hierarchy

Certain parts of your IT system are more mission-critical than others. Ask yourself which systems and/or data must be recovered in minutes, hours, or days so your business can resume operations quickly

For example, you may find that recovering sensitive customer information and eCommerce systems take priority over recovering your email server. Whatever the case may be, prioritizing your systems ensures that the right ones are recovered quickly after a disaster.

Pay attention to location

First and foremost, your backup site should be in a hurricane-free zone. Ideally, your off-site facility should be located at least 100 miles away from your main location. If this isn’t possible, make sure it is built to withstand wind speeds of 160 miles per hour (as fast as Category 5 storms) and is supported by backup generators and uninterruptible power supplies.

You should also request an upper floor installation or, at the very least, keep critical IT equipment 18 inches off the ground to prevent water damage in case of floods.

Use image-based backups

Unlike fragile tape backups, image-based backups take “snapshots” of your systems, creating a copy of the OS, software, and data stored in them. From there, you can easily boot the virtual image on any device, allowing you to back up and restore critical business systems in seconds.

Take advantage of the cloud

The cloud enables you to host applications and store data in high-availability, geo-redundant servers. This means your backups can be accessed via the internet, allowing authorized users to access critical files from any device. Expert technicians will also watch over and secure your backups, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of enterprise-level backup facilities and IT support.

Back up your data frequently

Back up your data as often as possible, especially during disaster season. If your latest backups were created on September 15th and a storm makes landfall in your area on the 28th, you could lose nearly two weeks of data.

Test your disaster recovery (DR) plan

After setting up your backups, check whether they are restoring your files accurately and on time. Your employees should be drilled on the recovery procedures and their responsibilities during and after a disaster. Your DR team should also be trained on how to failover to the backup site before the storm hits. Finally, providers, contractors, and customers need to be notified about how the hurricane will affect your operations.

As cell towers and internet connections may be affected during a hurricane, make sure your company forums are online and have your employees register with the Red Cross Safe and Well website so you can check their statuses.

It’s nearly impossible to experience disruptions during disasters like Harvey or Irma, but with the right support, you can minimize downtime. If you’re concerned about any natural disasters putting you out of business, call us today. We offer comprehensive business continuity services that every company should have.

This post was originally published on this site

4 Data backup solutions for your business

Modern businesses use data in almost every aspect of their operations. Without immediate and constant access to it, organizations will come to a grinding halt. That’s why it’s critical to have data backups — in the event of a disaster, companies risk losing valuable data if they don’t have backup strategies in place. Here are four data backup solutions you can implement to prevent such a scenario.

USB flash drives

USB flash drives are data storage devices that include flash memory with an integrated USB interface. They are not just inexpensive and portable, but they can also be used to back up data from several computers.

However, USB flash drives are easy to misplace, which is why they’re not suitable for long-term data storage. They are better used as intermediate backups.

External hard drives

External hard drives are portable hard drives that can be connected to a computer through a USB port. These devices have the lowest cost per gigabyte compared to other backup devices and boast quick transfer rates, allowing users to back up a large amount of data within seconds.

One of the drawbacks of using external hard drives is that you’ll need to update your backups regularly to include new files. There’s also the risk of the device being misused or stolen. For example, an employee might use the drive for storing personal files or take it with them when they quit.

Network-attached storage (NAS)

NAS is a dedicated server for storing data, and it can also be used as an email server. It has its own IP address and can operate either wired or wirelessly. NAS also offers data redundancyㅡ it generates a backup of your backups, ensuring that your files are fully protected.

On the downside, NAS can’t be scaled beyond system limits. This means that you have to purchase additional hard drive bays if you need more capacity. NAS is also vulnerable to malware, and you have to configure it a certain way to keep it protected.

Cloud storage

Cloud storage is becoming increasingly popular among businesses because of its many benefits. For one, it allows users to access their data from anywhere using any internet-connected device. It also enables businesses to pay for only the resources they use. Lastly, cloud service providers (CSPs) handle the installation, management, and maintenance processes themselves, allowing you to focus on more important business matters.

However, some CSPs don’t implement sufficient security measures on their systems, potentially exposing data to cyberthreats. This makes cloud storage an unsuitable solution for medical practices, law firms, and other organizations that handle sensitive data. To use the cloud, businesses in these sectors must find a service provider that implements top-of-the-line cybersecurity protocols and specializes in data regulations compliance.

Choosing the best backup solution has far-reaching impacts on your business. Each method or device has trade-offs, which is why you need to select the one best suited to your business’s needs. Enlist the help of our experts to ensure you make the right choice.

This post was originally published on this site

4 Data backup solutions for your business

Modern businesses use data in almost every aspect of their operations. Without immediate and constant access to it, organizations will come to a grinding halt. That’s why it’s critical to have data backups — in the event of a disaster, companies risk losing valuable data if they don’t have backup strategies in place. Here are four data backup solutions you can implement to prevent such a scenario.

USB flash drives

USB flash drives are data storage devices that include flash memory with an integrated USB interface. They are not just inexpensive and portable, but they can also be used to back up data from several computers.

However, USB flash drives are easy to misplace, which is why they’re not suitable for long-term data storage. They are better used as intermediate backups.

External hard drives

External hard drives are portable hard drives that can be connected to a computer through a USB port. These devices have the lowest cost per gigabyte compared to other backup devices and boast quick transfer rates, allowing users to back up a large amount of data within seconds.

One of the drawbacks of using external hard drives is that you’ll need to update your backups regularly to include new files. There’s also the risk of the device being misused or stolen. For example, an employee might use the drive for storing personal files or take it with them when they quit.

Network-attached storage (NAS)

NAS is a dedicated server for storing data, and it can also be used as an email server. It has its own IP address and can operate either wired or wirelessly. NAS also offers data redundancyㅡ it generates a backup of your backups, ensuring that your files are fully protected.

On the downside, NAS can’t be scaled beyond system limits. This means that you have to purchase additional hard drive bays if you need more capacity. NAS is also vulnerable to malware, and you have to configure it a certain way to keep it protected.

Cloud storage

Cloud storage is becoming increasingly popular among businesses because of its many benefits. For one, it allows users to access their data from anywhere using any internet-connected device. It also enables businesses to pay for only the resources they use. Lastly, cloud service providers (CSPs) handle the installation, management, and maintenance processes themselves, allowing you to focus on more important business matters.

However, some CSPs don’t implement sufficient security measures on their systems, potentially exposing data to cyberthreats. This makes cloud storage an unsuitable solution for medical practices, law firms, and other organizations that handle sensitive data. To use the cloud, businesses in these sectors must find a service provider that implements top-of-the-line cybersecurity protocols and specializes in data regulations compliance.

Choosing the best backup solution has far-reaching impacts on your business. Each method or device has trade-offs, which is why you need to select the one best suited to your business’s needs. Enlist the help of our experts to ensure you make the right choice.

This post was originally published on this site

Why hospitals need managed IT services

Technology is the heartbeat of modern medicine, which is why hospital IT budgets continue to grow every year. Whether your practice is struggling with data security or operational efficiency, managed services providers (MSPs) are an excellent option for IT support.

Here’s why partnering with MSPs is beneficial for healthcare providers:

MSPs guarantee response times

When it comes to providing healthcare services, constant uptime and availability can be a matter of life and death. Your IT support team shouldn’t be any different. Most MSPs guarantee maximum response times and support lines that are open 24 hours a day.

If something breaks or you come across technical issues in the dead of night, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether an in-house technician takes too long to pick up the phone or can’t make it in.

MSPs help with business continuity plans

You risk putting your practice in jeopardy if your IT team can’t help you recover from an outage or natural disaster. A business continuity plan is an absolute necessity in your healthcare organization — you simply can’t afford to lose all your valuable medical data in the event of a disaster.

MSPs maintain HIPAA-compliant off-site backups and failover systems so you can prevent any sudden regulatory or customer retention issues.

MSPs provide proactive security

In the world of healthcare data security, complying with HIPAA mandates is essential. Failing to meet regulations may result in huge fines, serious penalties, and even the withdrawal of your license to operate.

MSPs offer security services that include identity-based security and encryption, authorized privileges and access control, and data accountability and integrity.

MSPs boost practice efficiency

Healthcare staffing is often a hassle. But thankfully, MSPs can help set up, secure, and support high-tech solutions that reduce your HR concerns. Practices can take advantage of automation, enterprise resource planning software, and database management to reduce human errors and increase operational efficiency.

If you want to learn more about how great technology and support can benefit your healthcare practice, get in touch with us today — we provide the perfect set of IT solutions and outstanding support to drive your organization forward.

This post was originally published on this site

Why business continuity plans fail

Even the best managed IT services provider (MSP) can overlook certain business continuity plan (BCP) details. This is why businesses should always be on the lookout for the following pitfalls of BCP to ensure that the plan works as it should.

Over-optimistic testing

The initial testing attempt is usually the most important, because it’s when MSPs can pinpoint potential pain points in the recovery plan. However, they usually test the system in full, instead of in phases. This can cause MSPs to overlook specific points, with too many factors overwhelming them all at the same time.

Insufficient remote user licenses

MSPs give remote user licenses to businesses so that employees can access a remote desktop software when they need to, like when a disaster strikes. However, a provider may only have a limited number of licenses. In some cases, more employees will need access to the remote desktop software than a provider’s license can allow.

Lost digital IDs

When a disaster strikes, employees will usually need their digital IDs so they can log in to the MSP’s remote system while the office system is being restored. However, digital IDs are not automatically saved when a desktop is backed up. So when an employee uses their “ready and restored” desktop, they are unable to access the system with their previous digital ID.

Absence of a communications strategy

MSPs often use email to notify and communicate with business owners and their employees when a disaster happens. However, this form of communication may not always be reliable in certain cases, such as during spam intrusions.

Instead, you can use emergency communication applications such as AlertMedia or Everbridge. These programs automate necessary actions such as sending out mass notifications, sharing information, and mobilizing teams to prevent operational disruptions, so your MSP can easily notify you in case of any disaster.

Backups that require labored validation

After a system has been restored, IT technicians and business owners need to check whether the restoration is thorough and complete. This becomes an arduous task when the log reports are not easy to compare. This usually happens when MSPs utilize backup applications that don’t come with their own log modules and have to be acquired separately.

These are just some reasons why business continuity plans fail. While you should trust that your MSPs will secure your systems, it is important for business owners to be involved with any process that pertains to your IT infrastructure. Just because you believe something works doesn’t necessarily mean that it actually does. If you have questions regarding your business continuity plan, get in touch with our experts today.

This post was originally published on this site