I was reading an article the other day about the coronavirus and how, in countries hit with a larger number of infections, governments are enforcing curfews and limiting movement in populated areas. Factories are shut down and productivity has slowed to a crawl. This, along with the recent weather, had me going through a mental checklist on how the support organizations that I manage will continue assisting our customers in the event that we are unable to come in the office for a significant amount of time; whether that be forced by mother nature or our government.
In the IT world, traditionally, business continuity comes to mind only when thinking about system outages or compromises. Planning for a hard drive failure in an email server or ransomware hitting your file server forces an organization to write a plan as well as put systems and processes in place to minimize the disruption to their productivity.
We know that business continuity involves much more than just that. IT plays a central role in making sure that staff are able to be productive as possible with minimal roadblocks. We work with many organizations that operate 24 hour facilities with clients living onsite or others that are responsible 24/7 for the care of children in their care. Their access to data and ability to communicate is of the upmost importance; especially during a weather or health related emergency.
Here at The Bridge Group, we require that any internal platform we use or service that we provide can be used, managed and supported as long as we have an internet connection and computer. We can often times resolve office outages using only our cell phones. This enables us to remain readily available regardless of our location or most situations.
I encourage you to analyze your organization, its infrastructure and processes, to determine if you could survive or weather or local health emergency. Preparing your organization to remain productive regardless of their location involves the following steps:
- Analyze Job Roles and Tasks: Which positions are able to work remotely? Does one’s job require them to use equipment only housed on location, like a line worker at a factory?
- Analyze and Prepare Systems and Technical Infrastructure: Are your systems accessible? Do your staff have the equipment they need to work remotely? Are your methods of access secure and do they comply with any regulatory requirements?
- Analyze and Adapt Processes: How does work flow between your staff? How do your stakeholders (owners, customers, clients, etc.) communicate with you? How do you communicate to staff in the event of an emergency? Do staff take their work issued equipment home?
- Train Your Staff: Do your staff know how to use your systems and processes to their fullest potential? Do your staff understand the importance of having their work equipment with them at home?
- Test Your Processes: Have a mock ‘snow day’ or schedule a week at the office where no one can talk in person about work related items. Make them use the phone or other methods of communication available. Gather feedback on how well they were setup to complete their tasks as if they were working under normal conditions.
As always, we are here to support and guide your organization as you work to realize the benefit of your technical infrastructure. You may be surprised at how much processes and training can affect its usefulness. Talk to us if you would like additional consultation or would like help in reviewing your readiness.