A few blog entries ago I promised to present some practical and straight forward approaches to address this. I hope to show how some inexpensive and readily available technologies which will not stop all disasters but should allow you to cope and your business to survive.
By developing a disaster preparedness plan and implementing technologies that support business continuity, SME businesses can give themselves a defence against most possible disasters. OK, doing so requires some effort and investment, but when faced with the reality that your business might not make it through a disaster, is it really something you can afford to delay or neglect altogether?
First determine the potential disasters that could affect your business, remember that while some disasters are physical (i.e. floods, snow storms, etc.), others can be virtual (i.e. network shutdowns, cybercrime, etc.). If you have employees who would be unable to reach the office if a natural disaster strikes, consider how every-one would continue if they have remote working capabilities. Most homes have computers with broadband and individuals do have mobile phones. In a disaster these could be used to keep your business running, most employees will not mind working from home if discussed with them in advance!
The following guidance relates to two different areas to consider about disaster preparedness and disaster recovery – your technology and your business itself. It is important to realise that in many cases, having the right measures in place can help your business avoid disaster in the first place, while other tactics will aid you in getting your business up and running again if disaster strikes.
Explore cloud-based software solutions designed for SMEs, these will enable you to store information in a secure, offsite location and access it anywhere you have an Internet connection. Cost-effective cloud-based software solutions often come with company wide capabilities, making it a wise investment regardless of whether or not your business encounters disaster. Why would you have your own email servers in your own offices?
If you can’t or don’t wish to invest in an online backup solution, regularly replicate your hard drives (ideally on a weekly basis), using external disk drives. Remember to make this method fail proof you will need to remove the disk drive from the premises, in the event that a physical disaster occurs and you aren’t able to retrieve it in time.
Online backup options – If you don’t store all of your data in the cloud, consider investing in an online backup solution that will safeguard all important data stored on your hard drives and make it easily accessible in the event of disaster. If you and your workers store critical data on mobile devices, make sure that data also is protected by your online backup solution.
Document your environment – Be sure you or someone within your company has an understanding of all the important systems in your network environment – and document it somewhere. Take the time to identify all of your critical systems, keeping a record of key supplier contact details, usernames, etc. Determine how long, if at all, those systems can be down during a rebuild in order to ensure you can still operate and maintain customers.
The next part of this series will guide you through some high level measures to help you business survive any disaster.