business continuity

How Business Continuity Plans Differs from Disaster Recovery Plans

Nobody likes to think about worst-case scenarios when it comes to their business. Unfortunately, your company is susceptible to a wide variety of natural disasters, building structure fires and cybersecurity attacks.  

To be prepared for the worst, some companies create a disaster recovery plan to help get them back up and running. But what about a business continuity plan?  

One misconception is that if your company has a disaster recovery planthen you don’t need a business continuity plan. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Here is why you need a business continuity plan and how it can help your company.  

What’s the Different Between These Plans 

A disaster recovery plan is the process to get your company’s IT operational following a cyberattack, human error, hardware failure, building fire or natural disaster.  

Disaster recovery plans only focus on IT while a business continuity plan has a much broader scope. Business continuity plans are detailed outlines, including the procedures and instructions businesses need to follow to get back up and running following a crisis. Business continuity plans have contingencies for each aspect of your business, such as operational processes, assets, human resources, etc.  

How Business Continuity Plans Help Your Company?  

When disaster strikes, the longer your company is offline or nonoperational hurts your bottom line. According to Gartner, every minute your company IT is down cost $5,600 per minute. With those stakes, you don’t have time for a confused staff asking you, “What do we do?”  

With a business continuity plan in place, your company will know what to do if a crisis strikes. Key stakeholders will be able to direct others on what’s needed based on the severity of the crisis.  

What’s in a Business Continuity Plan?  

Several steps go into creating a well-rounded plan 

  • The first step is to conduct a business impact analysis. This is the time to take inventory of your resources, figure out which business functions will need to be addressed first to get the business running again and what resources will be required to do it. Click here to download FEMA’s free Business Impact Analysis worksheet.  
  • The next step is developing recovery strategies. These are plans that detail the steps needed to be taken to get the company back up to the minimum operating levels. Also, this is the step to address any potential gaps in your plan regarding resources, personnel or processes.  
  • The third step is developing a plan framework on how the continuity plan will be executed during a crisis. To help the plan run more efficiently for larger companies, organize a team comprised of people from each department to map out their department-specific continuity plans.  
  • If you don’t have one already, this would also be a great time to draft an IT disaster recovery plan. Also, document any manual workarounds so your team can access key programs remotely in the event of the network going down.  
  • The final step is to test your plan. Conduct training and exercises so everyone knows what to do if a crisis occurs. If you find a gap or problem during training, update your plan accordingly and then test again.  
How We Can Help 

For small and medium-sized businesses, it can be a daunting task creating a business continuity plan from scratch. To help streamline this process, our team of experts walks you through every step, from completing a business impact analysis to testing and revising your plan.  

Don’t stress about the future of your business. Contact us to find out how we can help.  

 

 


does your business need a virtual CIO

Does Your Business Need a Virtual CIO? : Checklist

Amid your daily responsibilities, are you making time to strengthen your cybersecurity, create a disaster recovery strategy and plan other value-added IT initiatives? Like most small and medium-sized companies, you probably don’t have enough time in the day to devote to protecting and advancing your business technology. A virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) serves as an executive-level member of your team, helping you maintain a competitive advantage by successfully leveraging the right technology for your business.

Do you need a vCIO? Answer these questions to find out:

Do you know where your data is stored and how to access it in case of a disaster?

Your primary systems can fail without warning when you face a natural disaster, malicious cyberattack, power outage or employee error. Do you have a process in place to quickly retrieve your mission-critical data? Do you know how long your business can be down before it dramatically impacts your bottom line? Knowing the answers to these questions is imperative – The US Bureau of Labor found 93 percent of companies without a disaster recovery plan are out of business within one year of suffering a major data disaster.

Do your employees know how to safely use their mobile devices for work?

With the rise of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend, organizations are using mobile devices more than ever. Mobile devices can improve your team’s flexibility and productivity – in fact, a study by Cisco found that companies with BYOD processes save an average of $350 per year, per user. However, they also open your business up to additional cyberthreats. Companies that are serious about implementing BYOD must deploy end-to-end security software and institute company-wide training to minimize incidents.

Do you have a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy in place?

When enterprise companies like Macy’s, Apple and Facebook get hacked, you hear about it on the news – but you probably don’t hear about the thousands of small and medium-sized businesses that suffer cyberattacks each year. The worst part is that, according to the National Cyber Security Alliance, 83 percent of small businesses have no formal cybersecurity plan and 69 percent have no plan at all. This isn’t a job that can be left to a single person, and even if you have an internal IT team, these tasks will take up the majority of their time.

Are you aware of new technology that could improve your operations?

Technology is constantly evolving and providing new opportunities for businesses, but the latest technology isn’t always the greatest and what works for others might not work for you. If you’re not entirely confident that a new solution or product will actually provide a strong ROI, you could be wasting thousands of dollars. Most business owners don’t have time to thoroughly research every new product or determine whether it will be a good long-term fit for their company, so they make the wrong investments or opt not to invest at all.

If you answered “no” to one or more of these questions, you need the assistance of a virtual CIO. For a fraction of the cost of hiring an in-house CIO, you get access to a team of IT experts who help you develop sound business continuity, BYOD and cybersecurity policies – all while keeping your technology costs down and leveraging new technology to keep you competitive. To learn what a vCIO can do for you, contact us now.


collaboration tools for your team

4 Must-Have Collaboration Tools for Your Team

You’re always searching for the latest and greatest tools to improve your team’s collaboration and productivity, but wouldn’t it be nice to know that the solutions you wanted to implement would actually do what you need them to? Often, applications are implemented as an end-all-be-all solution, but they don’t integrate with existing apps or cost more over time than your budget can accommodate.

What could the right tool mean for your business? A study by the McKinsey Institute found that teams improved productivity up to 25 percent through increased collaboration. That’s why finding the right tool for your specific needs is critical to improving the efficiency of your business. To get started, check out these four must-have tools and applications:

 

Cisco Webex

With crystal-clear video quality, Webex keeps your clients and team connected. Call in to a meeting over an Internet connection from anywhere in the world and discuss projects and tasks, share documents and presentations, and eliminate conversation barriers. Cisco protects your video conversation with data encryption and a multi-layered security solution to keep your connection safe.

 

Slack

Slack is a messenger application that offers nearly instantaneous responses from peers and clients. With an unlimited number of channels to share tasks, get feedback from clients and adjust expectations for project deliveries, Slack keeps your entire team on the same page. Include plugins like Jira or Dropbox and seamlessly send documents using a secured channel.

 

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint have played a critical role in the way businesses perform – now, Office 365 provides the same powerful software in a digital format. Access and edit your documents from anywhere with an Internet connection. Collaborate with your team and make changes to the same file in nearly real-time to streamline your deliverables while eliminating the risk of losing progress.

 

Yammer

Similar to Facebook, Yammer provides an internal communication platform for professionals. Set up groups and post status updates to the group’s news feed, tagging all necessary parties. Whether your client needs to share files and photos with your entire team, or you’re looking to update your peers on the status of a project, Yammer gives your team full visibility on what’s happening and when.

 

Cloud-based collaboration tools provide the applications you need to improve productivity and efficiency without the costly hardware and software deployments. For more information or to get help implementing the right cloud-based solution for your business, contact us today.


conquering digital ethics and privacy

3 Strategies for Conquering Digital Ethics & Privacy

From implementing blockchain to securing data with encryption and disaster recovery solutions, protecting your business’s and customers’ confidential data is crucial to strengthening your reputation and ensuring privacy. But, as more companies come under scrutiny for their data policies, it’s important to understand where digital ethics comes into play for your business.

Digital ethics involve the moral decisions that are made in regard to the virtual world. Are you collecting data without users’ permission? Are you selling that data to the highest buyer? What you do with the confidential information you’ve collected contributes to your digital ethics.

Understanding digital ethics can be overwhelming – but these three strategies can help you stay on top of it:

 

  1. Monitoring

You should monitor everything – from internal technology usage and system security to how users are visiting your site. By analyzing this data, you’ll gain insight into your team and customers, including if they leverage technology for its intended use or if they navigate/utilize tech in unexpected ways.

By monitoring your security, you can ensure your customers’ and business’s confidential information is safe from threats like cyber criminals, natural disasters and disgruntled employees. A multi-layered security solution including data encryption, threat detection software, disaster recovery plans and other security initiatives provides a holistic approach to protecting your data from all angles.

 

  1. Transparency

Being transparent about what information you’re tracking and how you’re using customer data is essential to building trust and strengthening your digital ethics. If you think to yourself, “I don’t want my customers to know I track that,” then you may have discovered a digital ethics issue.

Transparency isn’t easy, but it plays a critical role in creating trust between your business and customers. Knowing what does and doesn’t violate your customers’ privacy is key to navigating digital ethics.

 

  1. The Right Balance

Walking the fine line between being helpful and being intrusive can be challenging. While your customer data collection may have the best of intentions – improving their experience, reducing their time talking with customer service, reminding them of products they have left in their cart – it doesn’t always strike the right chord. By creating a value alignment that shows the value to customers as prominently and clearly as it does for your business, you can create a win/win scenario.

Algorithms for personalizing experiences and collecting and exchanging data don’t have to feel more intrusive than supportive. By implementing these three strategies, you can find the perfect balance that works for you and your customers. For more information on how to deploy a multi-layered security solution that keeps collected data safe, contact us today.