Coronavirus : Planning your business continuity
This morning the EU has raised the risk-level of Coronavirus (or COVID 19) in its member states from ‘moderate’ to ‘high’. Although the current advice from the UK government is to continue about your business as usual, we are also being told that widespread transmission is “highly likely”.
With Coronavirus now officially a pandemic, authorities in affected countries will need to make a co-ordinated effort to contain the virus. This may lead to the closure of public institutions and services which may require staff to stay and work from home.
What can be done
We understand that many businesses are now hastily planning a continuity strategy for this scenario. Therefore, we have published this guide on how to set about this task:
- List your critical business services and applications
Write-up a list of the critical business services and applications that are essential to keep your company operating. Also record the supplier and what you understand about their availability for remote working, for example:
- Main telephone line
- Database Applications
- Specialist “Line of Business’ applications (e.g. accountancy, architectural, legal)
- File Share and Documents
- Printers and Copiers.
- Identify home-workers who are already set-up to work from home
Your business will already have users who regularly work from home. They will have some kind of mobile computer device that can access business cloud services or have secure access (VPN) into the office network to access on-premise services. These individuals are invariably set and ready to work from home.
- Identify users that may access some business services available when out of the office (e.g. email on smartphone)
These users may access certain business services, such as email, on a smartphone or home PC (webmail). However, is this be enough for them to do their jobs effectively. Identify what services they would need access to be fully productive if they were forced to work from home.
- Identify users that have never accessed business technology system from anywhere but at the place of work
These users will likely work from a desktop computer in the office. They also have no remote working facility and may not even have a smartphone or home computer that can access business systems.
- Confirm that your users have working broadband Internet connection at their home
Don’t take for granted that your users have broadband Internet at their homes or can get access to a good-quality connection. Is it adequate to access your business’ cloud and office systems. Can you provide an incentive to co-fund home broadband or perhaps have 4G modems available to use?
- Confirm that your existing remote-working technology has the capacity to accommodate all of your users working remotely at the same time
- Even if you have the capability for remote working for all of users, have they all worked remotely simultaneously and can your business IT infrastructure handle this? Speak to your IT team to ensure the equipment and bandwidth can withstand your entire organisation working from home.
- Speak to your telecoms providers and determine whether you have a cloud-based system
- If you have a cloud-based telecoms system then the likelihood of being able to setup remote extensions to manage your calls is very likely. Alternatively, you should very easily be able to divert your numbers online (via a portal). If you have a fixed-line system, ask your provider how long it will take to setup a divert at the local telephone exchange and what the process for this is.
Armed with this information, you can have a meaningful conversation with your IT and telecoms service providers. Implementing technologies such as VPN or Remote Desktop/VDI before a pandemic (either this or one in the future) shuts the doors of your company. A well-planned business continuity strategy protects a business not only from global health-scares, but other disaster scenarios too. So, it is worth putting in the work now.
A useful tool
We have produced a simple worksheet below that will enable you to simply collect the information that you need. Once the list has been completed, it can serve as a checklist to ensure that each user has the tools they need to continue to work from home. It can also identify where gaps may exist in your IT infrastructure to accommodate home-working across the board.
If you have any questions or need assistance building or filling gaps in your continuity plan, please feel free to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org