With growing concerns around the outbreak of Coronavirus, businesses are being advised to review their Pandemic plans. The UK Government states that businesses need to “adopt robust and flexible generic business continuity management arrangements which will help ensure that the impact of any disruptions will be minimised”. It shouldn’t take headline grabbing events such as Coronavirus or widespread flooding to highlight the needs for robust Business Continuity Plans, however it has highlighted the explicit need for both your own company and your supply chain to have these in place to maintain productivity and profitability.
Impact of not developing a robust plan:
- Loss of productivity and profitability
- Damage to customer and supplier relationships
- Damage to company reputation
- Decline in company growth
- Possible collapse of business
Where does IT fit into your Business Continuity Plans and are your provisions fit for purpose?
Whilst many businesses have Disaster Recovery plans in place for a total loss of site; how do you ensure your business continues to run efficiently with staff in self-isolation or significant individuals absent due to sickness?
Businesses may not offer remote working day to day; however it is important that a provision is in place in the event that staff are unable to access their place of work, due to a number of factors beyond the current issues such as adverse weather conditions.
Another area of concern may be that you have a small in-house IT team of 1 or 2 people, the loss of these staff could pose an immediate concern with systems being both unsupported and your business unable to enact your business continuity plan.
The key questions that businesses need to consider are:
- What data and applications do staff need to access to work effectively?
- How can I deliver these securely?
- What device will these be accessed by?
Depending on the nature of your business and the location of your data (on-premise or in the cloud), can dramatically affect your requirements and the options available to you. Some of these may include:
- Software as a Service ‘SaaS’ applications delivered through a web browser (The benefit of SaaS Applications is the ability for staff to access these products from any place and any device.)
- Web Applications: ERP, CRM
- Office 365: Email, SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams
Most businesses are not yet 100% cloud enabled and still rely on applications and data delivered inhouse. In this instance, organisations will need to consider how these will be delivered to staff.
If you currently use VPNs the following needs to be considered:
- Are staff supplied with a company laptop?
- If no, are you happy for your data to reside on unmanaged non-company owned devices?
- Does your business have sufficient bandwidth for significant numbers of staff to access data remotely and will this impact productivity?
Your company may have a virtual desktop solution in place such as Windows Virtual Desktop, RDS or Citrix. The following should be considered:
- How will staff on non-company devices access remote sessions?
- Do they require an App e.g. Citrix Receiver?
- Can users access services via a web page HTML5?
- Do you have sufficient server resource to facilitate additional users over day to day use?
- Are these services secured with multi-factor authentication or password-less?
- Do staff know how to access these services, or will they rely on assistance from IT or the company intranet?
Engaging with a third party when creating and developing your plans allows you to discuss and explore your options with industry experts.