Business continuity planning is a big job in big companies. But what about your small startup – what are the essential elements you should have in place?
Believe me, I know you have a lot to consider and a lot to do getting your new business going. I’ve started a number of businesses over the years, and I get how easy it is to dive in and start swimming.
I’d like, however, for you to take a minute to consider a few sobering statistics about the effect of business disruptions. Did you know that:
- Up to 40 percent of businesses affected by a natural or human-caused disaster never reopen?
- 90 percent of businesses who experience 1 week of downtime go out of business within 6 months?
- 70 percent of all business people have already experienced some sort of technology disaster?
No doubt you’re already investing a lot in your startup. If you also direct some time and a little money toward business continuity planning now, you’ll save a lot of time and money in the future. That’s a promise.
What are the essentials?
Because you’re reading a blog on the website of an IT managed service provider, I think it’s safe to assume you use computers and data in your business.
Let’s also assume your business processes include accounting, and uses computers with business software. This basic checklist will help you identify the technologies you can set up quickly to help you recover from business disruptions.
Which of the these technologies do you currently have in place? Are there any you want to add? Any you are curious about?
Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)
Blackouts, brownouts, and power spikes are very common. They can cause physical damage to computer hardware resulting in lost or corrupted data, and worse. A quality UPS will provide a steady stream of electric current to everything that’s plugged into it, protecting from damage due to power spikes. Battery backup provides temporary power during blackouts.
The simplest units are plug and play, and you should have one for any computer running critical applications and storing important data.
Having a UPS for a server is a must – no server should be without one. And it should be a smart UPS, which includes software that performs an orderly, automatic shutdown of the server after 5 to 10 minutes, before the battery backup runs down. You should have an IT expert set this up for you.
Local Data Backups
This is simple enough to be DIY for many, but an IT service provider can help you procure and automate a reliable local backup system.
The first thing you’ll need is a backup drive, and an external USB drive is a common choice. Next you’ll want to automate the backup, and we recommend an image-based backup software that will take incremental snapshots of the entire computer or server, including the operating system and all applications and data. This way everything can be wholly restored to the same or another device, which saves a ton of time and money when any computer is lost for any reason – malware, theft or natural disaster.
If you’re backing up to an external drive, you should have more than one. Rotate them regularly, with one always stored in a fireproof box, preferably in an offsite location.
If MyITpros is your IT department, we can handle Onsite Backup Services for you.
Hosted Data Backups
Even better than redundant backup drives is backup to the cloud. Rotating drives is dependent on people, taking their time from other tasks when they do what they are supposed to do, and making the business vulnerable when they don’t.
The most complete data backup system combines the two – with locally redundant drives allowing for speedy backup and recovery from the most common disruptions, plus image-based backups in a secure cloud allowing for recovery from far worse disasters.
If MyITpros is your IT department, we can handle Hosted Backup Services for you.
The previous three solutions assume your applications and data are hosted on computers in your office. When all of your applications and data are hosted in the cloud, business continuity and disaster recovery become much easier.
Instead of setting up a server onsite, many startups begin with applications in the cloud, like Office 365 for not only Microsoft Office, but also for hosted email with Exchange Server, collaboration with Sharepoint, and OneDrive for storing and sharing documents.
Instead of installing QuickBooks or their Line of Business (LOB) software on a local server and computers, they pay monthly to have those applications and data hosted in the cloud.
In some cases, for a variety of reasons, a hybrid approach combining cloud and on premise applications is required. The choices are seemingly infinite, so be sure to consult with IT experts to ensure you choose what’s best for your business now and in the future.
File Sync and Share
People think of services like OneDrive and Dropbox first as ways to store and share files without using a local server. The same features that allow you to access files from multiple devices also makes business continuity a breeze.
But there are many factors to consider when choosing a file sync and share service for your business. Before you do be sure to read our blog Which File Sync And Share Should Small Businesses Use?
If all your applications and data reside in the cloud and your Internet goes down, your business is dead in the water. MyITpros and many of our clients have two Internet connections, with hardware configured to fail-over automatically when the connection goes down.
Having both business fiber and cable connections may be too much for your small startup to spend. But a wireless hub from one of the cellular carriers, like AT&T MiFi, can get you and up to five other computers back online in a few minutes, for less than $100 per month. It’s also good to have for offsite meetings and many kinds of travel.
Hosted VoIP is fantastic in certain situations, and overkill in others. For business continuity it’s hard to beat. If your office is destroyed and your phone system was in your office, it can be a while before you’re able to talk with your clients and vendors the way you want to. Hosted VoIP from the right provider, set up the right way, can make business resumption seamless.
For more information see our blog Telephony in the Cloud: Is Hosted VoIP Right for You?
Got it. What’s next?
Business continuity is an ongoing process. Having a plan for all of the key operations of a company to continue without stoppage is well worth the time.
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