12/02/2010

By Tony Speakman

The Manchester police recently lost access to their national criminal database for a number of days due to a virus. Lack of access to critical data can be extremely detrimental to any organisation, its working processes and in the case of businesses, its profitability.

For anyone wishing to maintain business procedures, no matter what their circumstances it’s important that they maintain access to business critical data and therefore have a back-up plan in place, should any unforeseen circumstances arise.


Data Back-up

It’s a basic and long-standing piece of advice for businesses but it’s still relevant - back everything up. It may sound obvious, but storing off-site back-up to all business critical data can be a simple solution to overcoming disruption to business. By doing this, organisations can hope to operate as normal using its backup until the problem has been resolved.


Up to date

Backing up data is a fruitless exercise if this process does not occur frequently. Without conducting regular updates, back-up soon becomes outdated and for many businesses, useless. The frequency with which businesses need to back up data will vary depending on the data and how it’s used. Businesses should ask themselves, “If something happened overnight and I had to try and operate tomorrow using the back-up, could I do it?” Depending on the answer, you should be able to work out how often the data needs to be backed up. We have some customers that back up their data hourly, others do it only weekly.


Access for everyone

In order to function as normal in the face of adversity it’s important that you have multiple methods for accessing business data. If for some reason your business was affected by temporary closure or damage to the business site then it’s important that data is held off site and it can be accessed remotely. Technologies such as cloud technology are becoming popular talking points among businesses looking to secure data and plan for business continuity, should their workplace be impacted. This can be achieved simply by having your backup data stored at a hosting site .


Procedures

With all this in place it’s essential that businesses have a continuity plan and procedures in place should disaster strike, ie: who is in charge of what, where information can be accessed from and what the next steps are. By having systems in place, clearly communicated to employees and readily accessible to all, businesses can expect to carry on, business as usual, if anything were to occur and not suffer from a time lag as everyone gets to grips with what the next step is.


“Regardless of how likely disruption to working life seems, simply taking the “It’ll never happen to me” approach will not suffice. In the last 12 months alone we’ve seen examples such as swine flu outbreak and adverse weather when businesses have been tested. Such cases are unpredictable and infrequent, but are real threats for all businesses no matter their size, sector or specialty. Therefore, it’s important to have business continuity plans in place.

By putting these processes in place, business can operate as normal when competitors may be suffering disruptions meaning they can negate any possibility of compromising profitability.”