All posts tagged: business continuity

COVID-19 Business Continuity

Prepare for Remote Working: Phones – Emails – Data Files

COVID-19 Business Continuity: A number of small and medium size businesses are undoubtedly considering the effects coronavirus may have on your business.

Ensure Business Continuity: Plan ahead and engage with us now before the situation concerning corona virus forces your team work from home. We are here to support you and your business.

If your staff need to work from home, do they have the correct equipment and resources to do so? Are they able to forward office calls to their mobiles? Can they access work files? Are their systems secure? See our checklist below to ensure you and your business are prepared:

Preparing for remote working:

PHONES | EMAILS | DATA | FILES

Time needed: 6 minutes.

  1. Phone Number Failover: Ensure your office phone system has capabilities to divert calls to designated numbers.

    ITCS Cloud Phone Systems are ideal for COVID-19 Business Continuity. Along with a PC/Laptop soft-phone and mobile app, the system will let you connect your office phone to your preferred business device. Your PC/Laptop or Mobile becomes an extension of your desk phone, allowing you to make and receive calls, transfer to colleagues, view any missed calls and record call statistics, just as you would from the office.

  2. Emails and Calendars are available with Office 365: View and edit files on Windows Phones, iPhone®, and Android phones with Office mobile apps.

    Office 365 and Outlook work wherever you are. Outlook mobile delivers a connected experience across email, search and calendar and deeply integrates with Office apps, files and teams to power your productivity and collaboration. Protect your data without compromising productivity with security, with the world’s leading email solution.

  3. Files and Data are accessible and secure from home: Sharepoint enables staff to work as normal from wherever they are. Ensure you have this software, or similar, on employee devices.

    Share your files from anywhere with SharePoint: Get more done with secure access, sharing, and file storage at home, or on the go. Microsoft file storage and sharing products are designed to help you store, access, co-author, and update files from anywhere, and easily share files inside and outside your organisation. 

    OneDrive gives you anywhere access to all your files, seamlessly integrated with Office and pre-installed with Windows. Automatically sync your files to your desktop so you can work with files offline. Access files on Windows, Mac, or mobile devices.

  4. Off-site Backups:  offsite backups to a loan server at your IT Providers’ preferred location


    Ensure you have server hosting off-site, in a secure data centre. ITCS can provide your business with a private cloud service that enables your business to run even in the case of system failures or technical mishaps. Cloud hosting also ensures everyone in your business can access data across multiple offices or different locations on the go. With ITCS, you can be sure your data is stored safely and securely by professionals who care about your business.

  5. Secure VPN for remote working: Ensure your team are working on a secure network, wherever they are

    A VPN (or Virtual Private Network) is an encrypted, virtual “tunnel” between off-premises devices and on-premises information. Connecting to your business files and data through a VPN whilst working remotely prevents data theft between the server and your off-premises device.

  6. Inform Staff and Clients of your Plans: Make sure all relevant stakeholders are made aware of your plans

    Put both employees and clients at ease by letting them know of your COVID-19 Business Continuity plans. Make sure you include key messages, processes, avenues for feedback and updates. If Covid-19 does impact your business directly, let staff know what happens if they need to self-isolate, as well as reminding all staff about policies regarding group meetings, travel and policies regarding remote working.

WHAT ITCS ARE DOING:

As of Monday, 16/03/2020, ITCS will be engaging its own contingency plan so that we can continue to provide emergency support to our customers. We are prepared to support our clients through this situation.
As a control measure to ensure ITCS staff don’t all come down with COVID-19 at the same time, as of Monday we will split the workforce into two working groups. Some of us will work from home, and some from the office. We will not be engaging with opposite working groups in person.
Anyone office-based will be refraining from going into other departments and remaining within their own working areas. Wipes and hand sanitiser will be readily available on premises, along with regular washing of hands.
Site engineers will be using gloves if they are required to attend site, or handle any materials/devices.
WebCOVID-19 Business Continuity

Get Started with Collaborate:

Giving you the tools to enable effective remote working: ITCS Cloud System is a complete Unified Communications solution, providing businesses with an easy-to-use and reliable collaborative experience across multiple devices and sites.

ITCS Cloud Phone Systems, along with a PC/Laptop soft-phone and mobile app, let you connect your office phone to your preferred business device. Your PC/Laptop or Mobile becomes an extension of your desk phone, allowing you to make and receive calls, transfer to colleagues, view any missed calls and record call statistics, just as you would from the office.

From every location, using any device:

Users can access the cloud service from wherever they are located – whether in the office, on the move, or at home – using desktops, tablets or smartphones. The service runs on Windows and Mac desktops, and iOS
and Android mobiles.

The user interface is intuitive and similar on all devices, and users experience seamless continuity when switching between types of device (e.g. leaving home or the office and transferring to a tablet or smartphone in real time).

What about meetings with clients?

The guest facility of My Room enables customers to be invited into an online meeting. If they have internet access, they can call directly as an IP call, or use call back. If they don’t have internet access, they can dial in using a pin.

Solve today’s workplace challenges with ITCS cloud-based tools:

FEATURES INCLUDE:

Smart call routing and call handling – as a cloud-based service, whatever device is being used, communications are tied to your business identity (i.e. your business phone number) so call handling features work as usual. For example, if a user is working remotely using a mobile device, any incoming calls can automatically call forward from their desk phone with no disruption to the caller and without call forwarding charges.

SIP trunking extends unified communications – for locations that may have an on-premises phone system not yet fully depreciated, this enables smart team working tools to be extended to all users across a mixed on-premises and cloud communications service estate.

Support for multiple devices smartphones and tablets (Apple and Android), desktops and laptops (Apple and Microsoft, Chromebook and Linux).

Time is of the essence, given the current situation with COVID-19. We are working on a first come first serve basis for remote working setup, but understand the importance and working tirelessly to deliver these crucial services.

WebGet Started with Collaborate:

5 Tips for Developing a Robust Disaster Recovery Plan

A Disaster Recovery Plan is essential to any business. In the past few weeks we have seen the devastating effects that flooding can have on a business – Storm Dennis hit more than 1,000 homes and businesses in Rhondda Cynon Taf alone after heavy rain last week.

From devastating floods to recent growing cyber threats, power outages, hardware failure or human error, there’s a lot that can go wrong in your organisation; much of which is out of your control.

Regardless of the cause, downtime is expensive. Sungard AS’s research found that the average cost to a business of unplanned downtime was just over £1.4m. It also found as many as 70% of managers believe they need to spend more on business continuity. But no amount of spending will be effective unless it is backed by an effective plan. We outline 5 steps you can take towards developing a robust business continuity plan should the worst happen to you.

Tip 1: Always be prepared: Business risk analysis

This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many organisation do not conduct an in-depth risk analysis of their business. The first stage in any disaster recovery project should be to assess the risks facing the organisation. Managers should link risk assessments to a business impact analysis. It is only by looking at risk and impact together that allows a director to scale your organisation’s priorities, and also to decide on the type of protection measures needed.

Some risks will be so great, and the impact so high, that only a formalised business continuity plan will reduce them. For others, a staged recovery plan might be acceptable.

One example in is planning for cyber threats, where businesses have invested in: perimeter security to ensure continuity; a backup and recovery plan to protect data, including against malware; and cyber insurance to cover the most serious incidents. ITCS provide a free IT Security Audit so that you can assess the risks facing your business.

But a really robust disaster recovery plan goes further, and considers threats such a disrupted access to buildings – which can be caused by something as mundane as a burst water main – to disruption to staffing from public transport problems or weather disasters.

You should also consider supply chain risks. A supplier is likely to have its own business continuity arrangements, but its priorities and recovery objectives might not align with your own

You can’t protect against every possible threat, but the key is to have the most comprehensive picture possible of the risks facing the business and an understanding of their likelihood, how deeply they affect the business, and how long it would take to recover from them.

Tip 2: Break down IT Risks

IT failures remain a significant source of outages for businesses. Industry analyst IDC calculates that half of organisations would not survive an outage that takes down their central IT systems “for an extended time”. But it is not easy to predict which parts of a system could fail, and the impact of the failure.

Directors need to adopt a similar approach to IT risks as they do to environmental, human or infrastructure risks. Experts should examine the likelihood of failure across all components of core systems, whether these are on-premise, outsourced or in the cloud.

IT teams should not just look at hardware, but at the risks posed by data loss and data corruption, including through cyber attacks or malware, and of application unavailability. They should then be able to rank systems in terms of how critical they are and how easily they can be restored or recovered.

Tip 3: Set recovery objectives

Your IT System audit will, in turn, set the key objectives for your Disaster Recovery Plan. This includes an understanding of acceptable periods of downtime, and their cost – something that can only be calculated in discussion with the business.

The disaster recovery plan is likely to consist of resilience, availability and business continuity measures, along with backup and recovery strategies and a degree of managed failure.

This might include contingency plans, such as staff working from home using cloud-based applications and mobile phones, through to access to high-end business continuity locations. Fortunately, cloud-to-cloud backup of application data and backup of on-premise data to the cloud are both helping businesses of all sizes to become more resilient.

Tip 4: Set your response strategy

Disaster recovery is the archetypal “people, process and technology” challenge. Unless the outage is brief enough to get by on cloud-based services and through remote working, the business will need to consider alternative working locations and how to move staff and technology there.

If the outage affects a data-centre and systems fail-over to a secondary site, IT will need to work to restore the primary location or find a new one, as well as ensure that the now single fail-over site is backed up too.

The main way to contain a disaster, and to ensure effective recovery, is to maintain good communications. The business should, in advance, appoint a person to lead the disaster response. This person does not have to be the person who wrote the DR plan, but does need to be familiar with it.

The disaster response team should include experts from outside IT, including HR, as well as representatives from business operations. Crucially, the team should have a way to communicate in an emergency and, ideally, take part in any DR exercises.

Tip 5: Test the DRS Plan

Testing your Disaster recovery or business continuity plan through an exercise can be disruptive, but they are necessary. A DRS exercise will test if the plan needs to be reviewed or updated.

It is only by testing that a firm will know whether the plan works, and whether it is resilient enough to perform under pressure. Simulation, and testing the communications systems, is the best way to expose any weaknesses. Teams can then feed insights gained from the testing phase back into the risk assessment and business impact analysis, fine-tuning the plan as they go.

In Summary:

The unfortunate reality is that it is impossible to prevent every business risk, and that no matter how much you prepare, there are still risks. However, being proactive now also means you, and your business will be better able to react rapidly and intelligently when something does happen.

For more information, guidance, and support on making sure your infrastructure is as secure as possible, get in touch with one of our engineers.

SOURCES:

https://www.computerweekly.com/feature/Five-essential-steps-to-a-sound-disaster-recovery-plan

https://searchdisasterrecovery.techtarget.com/Risk-assessments-in-disaster-recovery-planning-A-free-IT-risk-assessment-template-and-guide

https://www.dynamicnetworksgroup.co.uk/resources/news-and-views/may-2019/what-counts-as-a-disaster%E2%80%9D-in-it/

Web5 Tips for Developing a Robust Disaster Recovery Plan