Following the pivotal events of 2020, the status quo of business continuity planning may be permanently changed. As such, those responsible for business continuity (BC) are gathering their thoughts and asking how their BC plans can be of better service in times of trouble. Read about five key considerations for a business continuity plan below.
- Sustained disruption planning
Sustained disruption planning for be one of your priority considerations for a business continuity plan. BC planning is approached as a means of seeing you through a few hours of disruption and downtime at best, or several weeks at worst. Yet months later, organisations find themselves still using the BC technology that was intended for a short-term purpose. It goes without saying, but anything engineered for limited use will not be a suitable long-term solution. The proof is in the reality that many companies are experiencing today; after the initial scramble, employees and IT departments are battling with serious flaws in BC IT provision.
2020 has forced us to reconsider the duration of a business continuity threat. We’ve learned that a BC plan must call for IT infrastructure that will perform and remain secure for period of sustained disruption. Read more about how you can think bigger and smarter about BC planning and technology here.
- Securing new high stress areas
A BC plan is all about resilience: delivering the flexibility and practical resource to alter operations when the world around you changes. Therefore, key considerations for a business continuity plan should centre on securing high stress areas. And the world (and how we operate) has indeed changed – which means that new vulnerabilities and stress areas have emerged. Your firewall is one example of critical IT infrastructure placed under additional strain.
When revisiting your BC plan, consider reviewing configurations to check that the software designed to protect you from cyberthreats is appropriate for current conditions. This is especially key for firewalls, with the main source of failure being misconfiguration. You may find that upgrades are required in order to achieve optimal resilience. Unsure where your firewall needs upgrading? Ask yourself these five questions.
- Operational competitiveness
Resilience, resilience, resilience! If the worst happens, it’s no longer acceptable to trundle on at half capacity with only certain applications available – even if operations are technically continuing. A digital world means that the impacts of downtime are felt harder and faster, so to protect your organisation from becoming a casualty, your BC plan should be as ambitious as possible. This means levelling up failback systems, considering scalable options for key infrastructure, training staff in remote working best practice and utilising the latest cloud-based collaboration software.
- Redefined flexibility
Any modern BC plan will include network redundancy and remote access to systems, applications and data to mitigate the effects of downtime caused by equipment failure, cyberattack or human error. Popular solutions are virtualisation, remote desktops and VPNs. Having a failover system in place (which may be more of a “skeleton” with lower performance) also enables a smooth continuation of operations should physical sites be inaccessible.
As mentioned, companies should aim for performance and resilience to rival that delivered by the core network – so you remain competitive and avoid labouring on for days. As such, flexible, scalable cloud-based alternatives to IT critical systems for business continuity could be a good decision.
Examples are Disaster Recovery as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service for servers, networking and more, Storage as a Service and On-premise Storage as a Service. These services allow business to quickly scale provision up (or down) and are often pay-per-use which can improve cashflow. What’s best about these solutions is that they deliver enterprise-class performance and are fully managed – so you can focus on core business activity during a continuity threat.
- Choosing the best type of cloud
The cloud has transformed how business-critical applications and data are accessed and stored, to undisputed success. Tempting as it is to jump onto the most popular or highly praised platform, be mindful that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for the cloud. Even the most well-rounded, flexible and robust cloud platforms will need configuring to the particular ways that your business accesses, uses and stores data and integrates with other systems.
When reviewing your BC plan, consider involving a cloud specialist at an early stage. They can advise the best solution for you, be it a custom private cloud, SaaS, hybrid cloud, public cloud or a combination of all. This will ensure that cloud solutions are maximised and deployed in the right areas and at the right time, without any teething problems!
We hope you found these five key considerations for a business continuity plan insightful. If you need help getting the most from IT infrastructure as part of your business continuity plan, speak to us. Call us on 0844 579 0800 or complete a contact form here.