Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity Planning, and Working from Home
Most businesses are moving into their second month of working from home due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. The process of getting people set up to be able to work from home has been difficult for some businesses who were not prepared. For many businesses, it is not just a matter of going to your home computer and logging in. There are many considerations, such as whether your employees home computers have the appropriate software installed. You can’t just start installing software without additional licenses.
PERSONAL COMPUTERS MIGHT NOT HAVE PROPER PROTECTION
You also do not know if those home computers are secure. If there are no anti-virus or antimalware programs, any data that resides on that computer can be placed at risk. Even worse, if you put an infected machine on your network, you have now opened every other computer to additional risk.
BACKUP AND DISASTER RECOVERY PROTECTS YOUR DATA
Many businesses are protecting their data through some sort of backup system or disaster recovery platform. This protects data from cases of fire, flood, or hardware failure. With backups you know you can restore files and folders as needed. With Disaster Recovery, you can restore your entire server.
Disaster recovery is considered an IT process in order to protect your servers and your data. Business Continuity Planning is the process of making sure that your business processes will allow you to continue to function as a business after some form of disaster. A disaster can be limited to your facility, such as a fire. It could be of a much grander scale, like a blackout, such as what occurred in 2003.
The blackout, which at the time was the second worst in history, affected parts of eight states and the province of Ontario in Canada. Many places were in the dark for two days. Other major events that led to widespread disaster declarations in New York and surrounding areas include hurricane Irene in August of 2011, hurricane Sandy in October of 2012, and, of course, the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLANNING PROTECTS YOUR BUSINESS PROCESSES
We are currently going through another long-term event with the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike the other events, we are not dealing with things like floods or power outages. Pandemic Planning, which is a subset of Business Continuity Planning is more concerned about how to allow a business to continue functioning while people are not able to commute or even leave their homes without putting themselves and others at risk.
AN EXAMPLE OF ITEMS COVERED BY BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLANNING
Business Continuity Planning plan for many of the things that many companies struggled to implement at the very last minute before having to shut down their offices. Some of the items that had to be completed were:
Creating Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) for people to be able to connect to their servers and data safely and securely.
Making sure people had laptops or computers they could use for work while they are at home
Checking that all the right software was installed on every machine
Getting webcams to virtual meetings were able to take place
Setting up programs like Zoom for group and individual video conferences
Making sure that data was stored in a way that it could be accessed from the outside through the VPN
There is nothing on this list that is difficult to do, however, when everything has to be done at a time of an emergency, as opposed to being planned before, some of these items become difficult to achieve.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO PLAN AHEAD
For several weeks after this current crisis began affordable laptops and webcams were difficult to find as so many people were trying to prepare for a long stint of working from home.
Setting up zoom and coming up with a process and plan to transition from working in the office to working from home is also time-consuming and cause work to come to a halt while the details are worked out.
Having gone through the process, many companies will take advantage of the new technologies now available to them and may change their policies on working from home allowing it to be done more often then was allowed previously.
Many people had to compromise or make potentially high-risk decisions such as having people use their personal computers for business transactions.
REVIEW YOUR VITAL BUSINESS PROCESSES
When all of this is over, we would recommend that every business take some time out and review their lessons learned from this. You might want to consider things such as having remote access available to everyone as soon as they start working for your company, even if you do not regularly allow people to work from home. You may also consider switching from desktops to laptops for the people who handle vital functions and you will want to maintain your ability to have remote video conferences.
Having these things be a part of your regular business process will save you time, money, and effort should this sort of thing happen again in the future.
If you are concerned that the current state of your technology was not adequate to meet the demands of working from home, or you want to upgrade your systems to make things easier down the road, call Steven at Unfrustrating Computers. We can move you in the right direction.