Prevention Is Better Than Cure: What’s Your Disruption Plan?

Productivity is key for every business: at best, it can be irritating when it’s impeded for some reason outside your control, at worst, it can put you out of business. From bursting pipes through to natural disasters, not having an effective business continuity plan can derail your company.

An example of this is the recent Sydney Train debacle which caused commuters to be delayed for hours, creating major problems for commuters trying to get to work. The train strike announced shortly after, threw many businesses into a mad scramble trying to ensure they could continue to operate business as usual.

An obvious reaction from many managers was to suggest teams work from home.  However, attempting to create continuity plans on the fly can often cause some major oversights. For those businesses who didn’t have a work from home policy, there was an urgent demand to ascertain whether their WAN/Internet circuits were big enough to support such a large remote user base, to validate how many Citrix / VPN licenses they had available, or requests for the supply of more multi-factor authentication tokens.

Whilst luckily this time the strike was cancelled, the disruption and stress of trying to achieve an effective continuity plan in a short space of time meant productivity was still impacted in the days leading up to the strike. So whether a business is dealing with the aftermath of office flooding due to plumbing, water damage from hail storms, electrical fires, extended power failures, mass crypto outbreaks, vengeance of disgruntled employees, remote hacks, riots and civil unrest, having at least a general policy and procedure in place will help to minimise the disruptions.

These are all very real and happen more often than you’d expect, I’ve personally dealt with each of those examples over the course of my career. What have I learned from all this? That prevention is better than cure!

The question is: where to begin?

  1. Start by defining which scenarios you want to protect your business against (losing your work force vs office space vs data centre provide very different challenges)
  2. Be VERY clear on exactly which systems are mission critical to your business. Vet every business unit/department with a business impact assessment. This should include detail such as what processes each business unit performs, who would be affected by an outage and what the impact will be if those processes are not performed
  3. Understand the dependencies: which systems underpin those mission critical processes, i.e. there’s little benefit having a system online if the authentication mechanism is offline, meaning no one can log on to it
  4. Ascertain what the maximum tolerable outage is for those processes as well as how much data you can afford to lose. Factor in that some systems may be more critical at some times of the month than others (e.g. payroll may not be essential on day 0, but it will be critical at month end or payday)
  5. Clarify which personnel are required to perform those processes, where they are located, whether there are alternate staff that perform those functions and what their fall-back position is.

So long story short: if you were affected by the train strike, now is probably a good time to reflect on the situation that was, and start preparing a business case to remedy the situation. Now might be your best chance at getting budget approved!

And if your business needs help putting together a continuity plan or even a work from home policy, we can help, get in touch today.

If you’re looking for consultancy services to help design your own IT business processes, contact Starboard IT to find out what we can do for you.