Regardless of industry, business leaders understand the importance of delivering continuous service to their customers without interruption. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus pandemic has caused major disruption for businesses of all sizes and in all industries. According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), an estimated 92 percent of small employers have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. In the event of a disaster of this scale, or on a smaller scale, an IT continuity plan is are designed to help businesses continue critical operations and help them get up and running quickly once the economy starts to open up again.
Faulty IT Causes Communication Barriers
Communication is critical for the recovery of a business. Business leaders must be able to effectively communicate with employees and customers before, during and after any temporary shutdowns. Unfortunately, faulty or inconsistent IT can make it difficult to maintain proper communication in these situations. An IT continuity plan can help address such issues by outlining the proper procedures and instructions that a business must follow when faced with disasters like COVID-19. IT continuity plans focus on the restoration of operations, critical data and computing resources to help prevent potential communication barriers.
IT Infrastructure is Tied to Business Continuity
Many modern businesses rely on IT resources for everyday operations. For example, a company may use a web-based application to complete business transactions or employees may require special online programming to perform their job duties. An IT continuity plan should identify what IT resources are required for daily functions and which are less important and can be paused without interrupting normal business operations. As IT infrastructure is directly tied with business continuity in many cases, a company must plan for disasters that may negatively impact IT infrastructure.
How to Make an IT Continuity Plan for COVID-19
A well-designed IT continuity plan should achieve several key goals. First, it should clearly outline methods to help ensure the uninterrupted delivery of essential IT services. It should also identify resources required to maintain business continuity. From an IT standpoint, this may include resources like equipment, critical personnel, alternate infrastructure, legal assistance and similar resources. If successful, an IT continuity plan can save a business from potential hardships and secure important relationships with stakeholders and clients.
Businesses can begin the process of creating an IT continuity plan for COVID-19 by performing the following steps:
Determine Duties Most Affected by Remote Work
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to have their employees work from home. Telecommuting, while useful, can create certain challenges for organizations that are not used to working remotely.t. An IT continuity plan should provide in-depth information about what duties can be easily transferred to a home environment and which will require more attention.
Evaluate Business Impact and Necessary Workarounds
Not every business is affected by a disaster in the same way. It is important for companies to determine the level of impact that they would encounter if there was a loss of information or applications, whether temporary or for a more extended period of time. An IT continuity plan should include different types of disasters, ranging from incidents that last just a few hours to those that last days, weeks or even months, such as COVID-19. If certain processes cannot be continued, businesses should also consider workarounds to help minimize disruptions.
Initiate Data Backups, Cloud Hosting and Remote Server Access
Creating an IT continuity plan means being prepared for the unexpected. For example, if a fire or similar incident caused permanent damage to a business, would the company have critical information backed up and ready to be recovered? As many businesses affected by COVID-19 are forced to keep employees at home, they must utilize disaster recovery strategies to continue safe operations. Having access to a remote server and cloud hosting can be invaluable for businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic and other situations.
Take Inventory and Review Hardware and Software
While creating an IT continuity plan, businesses should consider taking a detailed inventory of their existing IT resources. This means documenting important details of equipment, such as purchase date, make, model and serial number. Companies should also have any necessary information on file that explains how to obtain replacements for equipment that becomes missing or damaged after a disaster. Along with taking inventory, businesses should make it a priority to document the network structure. This involves reviewing hardware and software and making any necessary upgrades.
Make a Communication Plan for Remote Work
Clear and effective communication must be maintained throughout a disaster to ensure that employees, customers and business leaders remain on the same page. Together, staff can take the necessary steps to coordinate a recovery strategy. An IT continuity plan should have a major focus on communication and should be thoroughly tested again and again for accuracy.
To learn more about IT continuity plans or for help creating a strategic plan to cope with COVID-19, contact Hartman Executive Advisors today.