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Does Your Business Have A Business Continuity Plan?

Does Your Business Have A Business Continuity Plan?

Disaster can strike at anytime and in most cases with little or no warning. While we may be able to predict certain weather systems or anticipate general problems such as power outages, for the most part it is almost impossible to know when a disaster will strike. To protect your clients and your business in the event of an emergency you must cover all the basics before disaster strikes. Both managed service providers and the companies they support should have a business continuity plan (BCP) as well as a disaster recovery plan to contain the damage that results from man made or natural disasters. Here we discuss the need for such a plan and what you can do to ensure your business stays up and running following an emergency.

Understand the need- Many companies are so busy in the here and now they fail to think about the “what ifs” that could be right around the corner. When the sun is shining brightly and everything is working in tip top form, it is easy to overlook the need for a business continuity plan. Unfortunately if you wait until you need a plan to devise a plan it will be too late. A business continuity plan will outline the steps your company will take immediately after a disaster takes place. This plan will determine how you will continue operations as well as recover and restore any data that was compromised. Without a plan of action for the minutes, hours and days immediately following a disaster, your business will likely not survive.

Work with your managed service provider- Managed service providers offer many services that are vital to your day-to-day operations. A good managed service provider will offer suggestions and advice on how to develop your BCP and what services they can provide in the event of a disaster. Getting your business up and running requires the resumption of communications, data, applications and hardware which is more than likely supported by your managed service provider.

Develop, test and update your BCP- Once you have identified your immediate needs during or after an emergency you can develop your BCP with information provided by your managed service provider. Writing a BCP is just the first step. Your entire staff must be prepared for a disaster and trained accordingly. Mandatory training and testing is needed to spot weaknesses in the plan. Once you feel your plan is effective and everyone is prepared for a disaster, don’t fall into a false sense of security. Your BCP should be routinely tested and updated to reflect your current operating systems.

Disaster recovery plans and business continuity plans are necessary if you want your business and company to make it through any number of natural or man made disasters. By working closely with your managed service provider you can rest assured that all your bases are covered when disaster strikes.

Content by Managed Services Provider University

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Creating a Business Continuity Plan For Your Small Business

Is your business prepared for any type of disaster? Even though small businesses may not have as many employees or as much equipment, they are still as vulnerable to disaster as a large corporation. If your business office were to be destroyed by a tornado, you could lose valuable business if you don’t plan ahead. Many businesses don’t want to take the time and the expense to prepare a business continuity plan, but can you really afford not to make one?

Make a List of All Possible Disasters

The best place to start is to list different types of disasters and try to determine what could be lost in each case, and what you can do to prevent that loss. A flood will require different strategies from a power outage or a fire. Next, try to estimate how long it would take, and how much it would cost, for you to get your business up and running again.

Communication

The middle of a crisis is not the time to frantically search for phone numbers. Even small businesses need emergency contact numbers. Have all emergency contact numbers posted or programmed into every phone. Do you have an alternate mode of communication should your main phone lines shut down? Could your clients seamlessly contact you without ever knowing that your office was in the middle of disaster recovery? The same principal applies to email and fax. Making arrangements regarding communication are critical to keeping your business running smoothly. Communicating with staff and clients can mean the difference between complete shutdown, or minimal a business interruption.

Preserving Your Data

In the event of a disaster, it is important to know that everything you need to function as a business is available. Identify all vital systems, documents, and data. While it is important for every business to backup their data on a regular basis, what if a fire destroyed your office? For this reason, offsite storage is critical to preserving your business’ valuable information. Offsite data storage allows to access to all of your stored data from any computer and from anywhere in the world.

A Temporary Worksite

It is also important to plan for a temporary worksite. Depending on the goods or services your business offers, can you continue smooth operation if your office is shut down? Storing products in a second location can allow you to maintain your regular business schedule.

Test Your Plan

One of the keys to successful disaster recovery is testing your business continuity plan on a regular basis. It is important that you and your staff know exactly what to do, where to go, and how to access the necessary items you need to keep your business running smoothly to the outside world, even if you are standing in the middle of a disaster. Schedule regular plan tests to ensure that everyone in your office is on the same page and ready should disaster strike. Hopefully, you will never have to use your business continuity plan, but it is smart business to be prepared for any emergency should one arise.

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Small Businesses Benefit From Managed Services

The economy is showing signs of recovery; however, many businesses are still reeling from the effects of the recession. From start-ups to multi-billion dollar businesses, everyone is looking for ways to cut costs while turning a profit. In fact, many companies are just trying to keep things in the black, however that does not eliminate the need for practices that will improve and grow these businesses. Since few people have the expertise to manage much of today’s technology, a certain percentage of their budgets should be allocated to IT and software applications maintenance. Here we will cover how managed services can benefit small and medium businesses.

  • Increased productivity- Businesses are established to fill the need for a product or service while providing a livelihood for the business owners and their employees. In order to do this, businesses have to ensure they are working at full capacity at all times. Downtime or work performed at reduced levels is time and money wasted. Managed Services can help businesses not only quickly repair problems when they occur but also act as a proactive measure to spot and treat potential problems before they have an impact on productivity.
  • Supports in-house IT- Many businesses do not want to relinquish all IT maintenance control to an outside party, and small businesses do not always have the resources to support the type of IT department needed to keep their business running at full speed. A majority of businesses can benefit from adding the expertise, tools and availability of a Managed Services Provider to help support in-house IT departments.
  • Remote services- Managed Services Providers work from a remote location, providing desktop, email and back-up and recovery support services without adding to the actual number of “employees” on site. The services provided are unobtrusive and in the majority of cases, have no impact in the day-to-day activities of current in-house employees.
  • Affordable- Generally when you bring on a Managed Services Provider, a consultant will perform an onsite assessment of the company, its workflows and processes and the current state of its supporting technology to determine what services are needed to meet organizational goals. Business owners often have a choice between several different levels of service, making it possible for a company with a limited budget to choose a package that best suits their needs.

Security is a big concern for business owners and individuals alike. In the past, business owners have been reluctant to entrust secure or private information to a third party, offsite vendor. As Managed Services Providers continue to prove their value, more companies are realizing the benefits and value of their services. Managed Services Providers continue to improve technology to provide secure, quality services for businesses of all sizes. As a result, smaller businesses which operate with leaner budgets find themselves in a position to reap the benefits of these services. Business owners often have to make difficult decisions regarding how they will improve their business while sticking to the budget. As the market for Managed Services experiences continual growth in the next few years, this method of IT maintenance and service delivery will likely become the “norm” for small to mid size businesses looking to reduce costs and improve uptime and business continuity. Companies that recognize the benefits of Managed Services will have a jump on their competition.

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How to Create a Basic Businesses Disaster Recovery Plan in 4 Steps

Loss of data is a common problem for businesses. Fortunately, it’s a problem that can easily be avoided with the correct preparation. While devastating amounts of data can be lost during catastrophes like hurricanes, the September 11 terrorist attacks, fires and floods – it doesn’t take such large events to cause a business to lose important data. It can be as simple as dropping a laptop to the floor, or a power surge that results in burning out a storage device. If you don’t have your crucial data backed up, even a small situation can turn into a disaster.

If you still think natural disasters are the leading causes of data loss – and that the chances of it happening to you are pretty slim, take a look at the results from a study by Strategic Research Corporation of the leading causes of business continuity and disaster recovery incidents:

  • Hardware Failures (servers, switches, disk drives, etc) – 44%.
  • Human Error (mistakes in configurations, wrong commands issued, etc) 32%
  • Software Errors (operating systems, driver incompatibility, etc)14%
  • Viruses and Security Breach (unprotected systems are always at risk) 7%
  • Natural Disasters 3%

Establishing a disaster recovery plan can be done in the following four steps:

1) Take a potential risk inventory. Make a list of every potential cause of data loss and the solutions to each. Your list should include losses that won’t affect the business very much, and those that would shut the business down temporarily or permanently. Information Technology experts can assist you with creating the potential risk inventory – as they will have the knowledge and experience to identify possibilities that you are not likely to think of but need to plan for all the same. These IT experts will also be able discuss preventative solutions to guard against each type of potential data loss.

2) Rate each of your potential data loss situations. How likely is it for each of the items on your risk inventory to occur? Rating them in order of importance and likeliness to occur will help you determine where to focus your disaster recovery plan efforts.

3) Develop your disaster recovery plan. Go through each of your potential risks and their solutions, and determine how long it would take you to recover from the loss of data for each risk. Could your business be offline for 24 hours? A week? Depending on the nature of your business, being offline for even just 24 hours could result in your losing customers to your competition. Look at ways to reduce the length of time it would take you to recover from each type of data loss risk.

4) Put your disaster recovery plan to the test. Once you’ve created your plan of action for recovering lost data, you should test your solutions. A disaster recovery plan is just a plan until it can be tested and proven.

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5 Reasons to Implement a Managed IT Services Solution

Information Technology services are essential to the success of every organization, large or small. With increasingly competitive business environments, CEOs and small business owners are under great pressure to maintain a highly qualified staff and to make sure their technology is obtaining a better ROI than their competitors’.

These goals are not easily achieved, particularly for young or small businesses with less financial resources and time available. Having your own successful information technology department can eat up too much of the company’s budget and time resources, and eventually cause a loss of its competitive edge. These disadvantages of maintaining an in-house IT department are why companies of all sizes have turned to using managed service providers to either assist their existing IT department or become their virtual IT department, handling all of the technology involved in keeping their businesses running at optimal levels.

The benefits of using a managed services solution are numerous, but the top 5 benefits of managed services for business include:

  1. Benefit from the expertise of a specialist, without having to spend time and financial resources training your staff to become experts.
  2. Decrease your technology risks. Your company doesn’t have to worry about losing and trying to replace trained staff members, or about repairing, implementing or replacing complex technology solutions.
  3. Enjoy access to the most up-to-date, sophisticated technology solutions without having to invest in expensive equipment.
  4. Experience ultimate control over your business technology without having to manage an information technology department. This gives you the time you need to focus on what you do best: your business functions.
  5. Reduce stress and improve efficiency of your staff. When you make good use of managed service resources, your staff isn’t tied up with IT concerns and they have more time to focus on tasks that are productive for the business.

Content by Managed Services Provider University

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Ascendant Technologies, Inc.
One Executive Drive, Suite 210
Somerset, NJ 08873

Central NJ: (732) 563-2675

South NJ: (609) 279-0040

Toll Free: (888)-925-4357

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