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Business Continuity Basics for SMEs

Emergency PlanningOn the 23rd January 2014 BBC news reported on a slightly different technical outage affecting the London underground where one of their comms cabinets flooded with concrete which resulted in part of the Victoria line being down for the remainder of the night. The story can be read in full here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-25862543

The issue impacting the underground isn’t one that normally affects UK SME’s and it’s unlikely many people have planned for such an outage.

This brings me to the purpose of this blog post; very few UK SME’s have properly prepared plans to follow when disaster strikes.

How IT Helps Business Continuity

Mirus provides a number of solutions to help when systems fail, e.g. email continuity or our advanced back up products such as our managed disaster recovery and backup solution which takes effect for when you've lost your entire site (our product allows us to virtualise your entire server infrastructure in the cloud to restore systems quickly).

Total Business Continuity Planning

The next stage on from this though is total business continuity planning which means considering more than just IT (Strange as it sounds there is more in the world than just IT!)

A business continuity plan will vary depending upon the industry you’re in and the reliance on machinery / technology / building services etc… but most include the following basic aspects:

  • Define the different types of incidents (Fire / Server outage / Disease breakout / Internet outage)
  • Who will be appointed to manage the incidents? (it may vary depending on the type of incident)
  • How will you communicate the impact of the incident to your staff?
  • How will you communicate with your customers and other external parties who may be affected by your incident?
  • If you’ve lost your building where will people work?
  • Do you have any backup services which can be implemented in the event of technical outages?
  • Do you have contractors you can use to deliver service if the incident involves staff?
  • Have you defined what is excluded from the plan (Nuclear war etc…)
  • Details of any business continuity insurance policies
  • Frequency when the plan will be reviewed
  • Frequency when the plan will be tested

Once you’ve created plan, please don’t stop there – you must ensure that the plan is available offsite and a number of people have access to it. Also the most important part is completing a test. When you test your plan you’ll be able to polish the process and ensure that it delivers what you need.

MKBRF-Logo-CMYKI’m an active member of the lead team at the Milton Keynes Business Resilience Forum and part of the services is to free Business Continuity mentoring to our members (membership is free). If you would like any help with your business continuity planning please feel free to contact me personally or contact the MKBRF.