Do you have a plan for business interruption?
News and concern over the coronavirus (Covid19) is spreading faster than the actual virus itself. You can turn on the news channels at practically any time of the day and there is a story about it. A good amount of the news cycle is probably inflated, but there is a very real concern that we need to address. As the number of cases of Corona infections grow in the US, there will be a push for people and organizations to take self-quarantine measures and to limit exposure by avoiding crowds and gatherings. We are already starting to see some of this on the West Coast as a few tech conferences and events are being pushed or even cancelled.
Unfortunately, perception is reality. In this case, regardless of the actual severity of the Covid19 and its potential impact, we absolutely need to prepare for the situation. There are at least a few areas of preparation that all organizations should consider for situations like a virus pandemic. The main goal of these preparations should be to ensure business continuity in emergency situations.
To get started with building your plan to avoid interruption, you must first get your executives on board. Communication across all departments will be the key to your plan's success.
Solidifying Executive Commitment for Cross-departmental Communication
Communication throughout the organization is critical to the success of any Business Continuity efforts and plans.This is the time to follow a defined process to ensure that all steps are taken to minimize business impact. Understanding the impact to the business is the only way to ensure that the organization’s Business Continuity Plans and recovery efforts will be successful.
A few things to consider when building a successful plan for business interruption include:
Conducting a Business Impact Analysis (BIA)
Unfortunately, due to the increasingly rapid spread of Covid19, if an organization hasn’t created and maintained a Business Impact Analysis (BIA), that time has passed for this event. In this situation, we recommend that businesses start holding standing meetings (weekly or daily), with business stakeholder representation to track the effects of the Covid19 on the business.
All stakeholders should identify impact areas, including Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) for affected applications and business processes. Everything should be thoroughly documented, including a “lessons learned” session, so as to build a more effective Business Continuity Plan going forward. A solid Business Impact Analysis (BIA) is comprehensive and very involved. It can be a daunting process, but there is help available if you need it.
Developing a Work-From-Home (WFH) Strategy
To develop a successful work-from-home strategy, you must ask yourself the following questions.
- How easily can your organization shift to a work-from-home model? Is that even practical?
- How about remote connectivity? Can your organization facilitate at least 2/3rds of the workforce over your VPN? (Potential Solution: Cisco AnyConnect)
- How would remote/telework impact your security? Do the internal network controls work outside the network? (Potential Solutions: Cisco Umbrella, Cloud Email Security, Cisco Duo Multi-factor Authentication, and Cisco ISE)
- The meetings must go on! How do you currently facilitate remote meetings? Can it scale to double or triple the size? (Potential Solutions: Cisco WebEx, Cisco Unified Communications Manager)
- Can you continue to meet your compliance obligations and security goals while in a Business Continuity state?
Anticipating Supply Chain’s Impact on Business Continuity
How will an interruption to the global supply chain impact your current initiatives or production?
We know that there are shipping and fulfillment delays in nearly everything coming in from Asia right now. We expect to see that grow to other parts of the world and the impact to grow as well. The questions you need to answer are:
- How could the Covid19 effects on the global supply chain impact your business?
- Could the Covid19 global supply chain effects be minimized by using alternative suppliers?
- What are your suppliers doing to ensure their business continuity, thus their order fulfillment?
Build Your Business Continuity Strategy with Experienced IT Professionals
Building a sound strategy involves understanding the application and technology needs of your business. You need a team of IT experts who can help you assess your business continuity capabilities and provide an actionable plan to help avoid business interruption. We can help with supply chain impediments by leveraging partner resources and perform a business impact analysis (BIA) to help you plan for large scale business impacting events, such as global pandemics.
In light of the coronavirus scare, know that you do not need to make these preparations alone. Consult experts like IE to help you build seamless business contingency plans and stay ahead of any emergencies thrown your way.