What is Business Continuity and why do I need it?

Your business is our business. When you thrive, we thrive and so we take the resilience of your company very, very seriously. This is why we would like to talk to you about a subject very close to our hearts. 

Almost without exception, when a business’ IT systems become interrupted, it results in an expensive loss in productivity. Orders aren’t received, contracts aren’t approved, transactions can’t be processed and so on and so forth. For every minute of what is now termed as ‘downtime’, the costs add up and up.  In the equation of IT disasters, cost and time are plotted on X and Y axes respectively with a steep upward curve. In the first few hours of downtime, the cost can be mitigated with excuses and hastily arranged workarounds, but as more time elapses, the higher the price becomes. What started as just delay turns quickly into lost business and, ultimately, into loss of reputation; this is where things get really expensive. In the fifteen years that we have been in business, we have been on the sharp end of more IT crises than we would have liked and, as a result, are evangelists of forward planning and fanatical proponents of what the industry calls, Business Continuity. 

As IT managed service providers, it is our job, our passion, to make sure you have the tools, services and processes in place to protect what is fundamentally important to your business.  The concept is simple as with all good ideas. Can we ensure that your business continues to work in face of operational adversity? Do we have the solution to enable you to sleep soundly in the knowledge your business operations are free from the worry of equipment failure, disaster event or just simple data corruption? Well, the answer is yes we do and we love it. Simple solutions are what makes us tick. 

To understand the solution, we must first understand the problem. What are these faceless threats waiting to grind your company to a halt? Let’s start by stating the obvious. Things go wrong. Computer system can fail or be stolen or, at worst, become burnt to a crisp. Hard drives corrupt data. Connectivity fails to connect. If you plug it in then at some point in the future, it may not turn on anymore. The trick is to minimise the impact to your business and with Business Continuity, negate it completely. We can break down your core IT infrastructure into the individual pieces that combine to form the backbone of your business systems. Once we have isolated each link in the chain, it is our job to ensure each link is not a point of failure. When you no longer have a point of failure or at the very least one without a tested, remedial procedure, you have Business Continuity.

The Pieces of the Puzzle 

It starts with anything in your IT infrastructure that has a three-pin plug; the server in comms room, your router that connects you to the internet or the laptop on the admin assistant’s desk. Each of these components plays a role and has a different priority level within the bigger system. If that laptop failed, the Admin Assistant could still potentially access the company accounts data from another PC and the computer fixed under warranty within one working day (assuming that it is covered under a warranty agreement, of course). This would be a low priority item and as we have demonstrated here, quite simple to mitigate in the event of a problem. The server, on the other hand, would be a different priority altogether. Even half a day without access to all it provides (data, applications, network services, printing etc) could result in the entire company being unproductive during this period. Could the business last a whole day for it to be repaired or replaced? If so, just for how long? Beyond the actual IT equipment itself, are also the physical aspects of a business. It’s the office premises, the walls, the stairs and that coffee table in the break-out area. OK, let’s not worry about the coffee table too much.
Download a Business Continuity checklist here to evaluate how well your company is prepared
So how do we mitigate the impact a failure of the working environment can have on the business. It’s simple. We give you a system that does not rely on any of your IT equipment, physical network or location. An operation that can stand independent from your office at the drop of a hat (or should that be the drop of a match?).  

Traditionally, your office is the gateway to your business, it has your server containing all of your data. It houses your router that connects you to the internet. It is where the phone rings and where your emails are delivered. Each of these is a potential source of downtime and lost opportunity. The server is down! The phone lines have been severed by the workmen in the road! Big ‘what ifs’, but they happen. In early 2015 we saw a mass evacuation in Holborn, London as an underground fire caused by electrical damage burned for 36+ hours and took power from thousands of properties in the area affecting hundreds businesses with potential costs to the economy of over £40million. Businesses were locked out of their offices for days and days.  

When we plan with you for Business Continuity, your business becomes resilient to any physical issue, however unlikely it may seem. We are sure those in Holborn would have raised an eyebrow if fore-warned that an underground fire could see them without access to their blacked-out business premises for days on end. It happens though and with our help and expertise we can safeguard your business operations to ensure it is business as usual for you and your team no matter the circumstances. 

So what is the hard-sell here? Where’s the product? The truth is there isn’t a product, at least not a single one. A single product is just another link in the chain, ready to break. Business Continuity is about analysing how you work and then matching the best set of hardware, software, connectivity and service solutions to your needs and your budget. We don’t just take a copy of data and save it somewhere. That is called Backup and that forms only part of a coherent Business Continuity strategy. How does Backup in isolation help if you are an internet based business taking orders on the web and the phone without any connectivity? Sure there is a backup of your data on a drive somewhere but customers are trying to call you right now! With Business Continuity we look at how you work. Each company operates in a different way with a different set of priorities. The only common ground you have is that you operate and you must continue to operate when things go awry. It is so simple! For some of you, a simple copy of your critical data well away from your business premises is the perfect solution and when it is, that is the answer we give you. It’s not about one path or one way of protecting your business, it’s about protecting the operation of your business.

Read the following case study on how ITbuilder helped a customer survive a critical system faiilure during the most important fortnight of their business year.

Planning for a Disaster