Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Plans – Getting Started

Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Plans

Business owners, by nature, tend to be optimists. They believe that sales will grow, the economy will get better, and disasters will never happen to them. The stark reality is though, disasters can happen to anyone. The businesses in New Orleans never thought Katrina would be as bad as it was, and the companies with offices in the World Trade Center would have never foreseen 9/11. On a less serious scale, you also never expect a water main to break or for faulty wiring to cause a fire. The truth is that disasters happen, and every company needs a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan. The way that businesses survive these disasters are by creating contingency plans when they never expect to have to use them.

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan is a strategy for having minimal to no down time should a disaster happen. For many industries, it’s vital to be able to continue your work even if your offices are inaccessible, your computers are lost, and your main form of communication is down.

& What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

Once your company survives the disastrous event, how will you recover? What is the plan for where you would work, who would be in charge should something happen to the CEO, and how would you adjust to any lasting effects of the disaster? A disaster recovery plan would address all of this.

The Basics of a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan

The details of each company’s Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan can vary greatly, but many of the basic components are universal. Your plan should include how your employees will communicate with you and with each other, how you will continue to operate, and what the chain of command is. Depending on your business, this might also include how your distribution chain will continue to function, who will maintain the servers, or how you would communicate with clients. Preparing all of this when a disaster is nowhere in sight will leave you in a good position, should the unexpected happen to you.

Communication

Having 2 or 3 means of communication, should your primary method be down, is the most important part of a business continuity and disaster recovery plan. Being able to get in touch with coworkers and employees will not only be vital to continuing to operate, but also in making sure everyone is okay. Keep the contact information of everyone for a few different methods – online, mobile phone, and land line, just to name a few.

Functionality

What sort of disasters will you continue to operate in, and what sort would put everything on hold? The answer to this question depends on how vital a service you provide and what sort of supplies or distribution channels you reply on.

Do you have your computer network backed up, and are employees able to access their files on personal devices? Without having a backup solution, your recovery phase will be very difficult. In turn, without cloud based computing, it will be nearly impossible to maintain operations should your office be inaccessible. Make it possible for employees to be able to operate without their normal supplies.

Chain of Command

As part of your Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan, include a chain of command should anything happen to the owner or CEO in a disaster. It is of course unlikely to suffer a disaster that could cause the loss of your company’s leadership, but always plan for the worst when putting together a plan. It is the best way to ensure business continuity.

Implementation – Drills & Training

Implementation includes running drills and ensuring employees at all levels are familiar with their part in the plan. Do cross-training of essential tasks and address any holes that are revealed in the drills you run. Encourage employees to take these drills seriously to be able to practice operating under the stress of a disaster.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan

Disasters do not discriminate based on the size of your business or how prepared you are. As the adage goes, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Set aside time and man-power to put together a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan for multiple scenarios. Being able to thrive in a disastrous scenario could be a defining moment for your company.

Tips for Increasing Employee Productivity

Increasing Employee Productivity

As everyone who’s ever managed or worked in an office knows, staying productive throughout the work day can be tough. There are meetings, coffee breaks, and just stretches of time where you feel tired or easily distracted. There are techniques to make the most of each day though. Try these tips for increasing employee productivity next time you feel a slump coming on.

Create an Inspiring Work Space

A well designed and decorated work space will boost both morale and productivity. Employees report that working in an inspiring space helps them feel more inspired in their work. Consider hiring an interior decorator to add some art and colorful furnishings to your office. You don’t necessarily need an entire re-design (unless you want one), but can simply re-arrange or add art to elevate your work space. Inspired, happy employees, are productive employees.

Allow Working from Home

Despite some contrary opinions on the subject, in general, employees report feeling more productive when working from home. This doesn’t have to mean working from home every day, but allowing employees that flexibility is important. Being able to take home a big project to focus without the distractions of the office can be great for productivity. Working from home also helps the work/life balance when employees can take a day here or there to work from the comfort of their homes.

Technology that allows seamless working from home is very accessible these days. Cloud computing, and using a remote desktop, makes it possible for employees to log in from any device and access the exact same desktop they use in the office – all of their files, all of their shortcuts, all in the same place. With tech that makes working from home so easy, why not allow it?

Discourage Multi-Tasking

No matter how great a multi-tasker you think you are, your productivity is shot when you don’t focus your attention on one task at a time. Encourage employees to sit down and really focus on particular projects, rather than trying to do everything all at once. Distracting multi-tasking habits can be broken with the help of supervisors and project managers by not expecting multiple tasks to be done on the same deadline. Help your employees give their full attention to each project by, as a team, focusing on one thing at a time from start to finish.

Supply Employees with “Brain Food”

Offering work place snacks can help your employees get through that mid-afternoon slump and push through dips in blood sugar during the day. It’s important to put thought into what kinds of snacks you offer workers, though. Food with a lot of sugar and carbs can leave your employees with energy spikes and crashes, or just leave them tired and lethargic. Snacks high in protein like nuts and beef jerky are great “brain food” in the work place.

Increasing Employee Productivity

Every day doesn’t have to feel like a battle against lack of motivation. Practice maximizing your team’s productivity through your work environment, taking on one project at a time, and keeping healthy snacks around the office. There will always still be days where it feels like not enough is getting done, but remember, happy and healthy employees are the best workers there are!

DIY Backup vs. Cloud Provider

,
diy backup vs cloud provider

Are you a business owner that has recently started to wonder if you should have your computers backed up? If you have enough client and project information that it would be a big setback to lose it all, now is the time to start looking at backup options. Data loss is expensive and stressful. It’s important to choose the best backup solution for your business’s needs, so let’s start with the basics: using DIY backup vs. a cloud provider.

Time it Takes to Recover Lost Data

If you suffered a major data loss, how long would you be willing wait to for your restored data? If your answer is anything other than a few minutes, DIY backup is not for you. With a cloud provider, a phone call or email is all it takes to have your entire network’s data restored. With DIY, depending on the system you are using, it can take days or even weeks to get your data restored! It is a tedious and time-consuming process to restore a computer when you don’t know exactly what you are doing. This lag time is why many users opt to use a professional cloud provider for their backup solutions.

The Factor of Human Error

We all like to think that we and our employees are error-free, efficient workers. The truth of the matter is though, humans are incredibly error prone. The danger with DIY backup is that you bring the factor of human error back into the equation. Humans can forget to update your backup regularly, make an error while creating the backup and damage/lose data, or could even accidentally delete the entire backup.

A cloud provider will set up an automated system to regularly update your backup; no human necessary. Cloud providers have tried and true systems in place to both protect, and maintain, backed up data to keep it free of corrupted files and away from human mistakes.

Peace of Mind

Managing a backup system yourself can be a stressful task. There is the process of figuring out which type of backup is best for you, deciding how often to run the backup, making sure the backups are done correctly, and then there’s the unknown of it actually working to restore your lost data should anything happen.

By using a cloud backup provider, all of that stress and work is the responsibility of someone else. Cloud providers manage and protect your backup files 24/7. They have the technology to back up data properly and securely and do regular checks to make sure the backups are healthy and can be easily recalled should need be. This is why many businesses leave their backup solutions to the professionals.

Cost

When it comes to DIY backup vs. cloud providers, you would be surprised to learn that a cloud provider is, in fact, often less expensive than an in-house solution. With DIY backup, you must purchase the hardware for a backup and likely hire IT personnel to set it up and manage it. On the other hand, the backup services that cloud providers offer have a monthly fee that covers all hardware costs and time spent by personnel to update your backup and maintain it. Any unpredictable costs (like hardware needing to be replaced or running updates) are taken care of by the cloud provider; you only pay a consistent monthly fee for the service.

DIY Backup vs. Cloud Provider

If you are looking for a low stress, reliable way to backup your business’s data, using a cloud provider is the way to go. By setting up a cloud backup system with a provider, a monthly fee gets you hardware, round-the-clock support, and most of all, peace of mind. Should you suffer a data loss, your cloud provider has your back. Save yourself the headache of trying to set up a DIY solution and leave it to the professionals; your future self will thank you.

Tech Trends: Bots for Business

Bots for Business

Have you heard the new buzz in the tech world about bots for business? You may not be completely familiar with what they are and what their value is, but whether you knew it or not, you have likely already interacted with one. Business bots have been around for years, but with the growth in artificial intelligence, they are becoming more sophisticated and more widely used at a fast-growing rate. They have become a game-changer in saving companies time and money.

What Are Business Bots?

Business bots are essentially a basic form of artificial intelligence software. They can be programmed to respond to questions in certain ways and to take a specific action based on a request. They must be customized by developers to make decisions based on certain questions and follow certain thought trees. The use of a copy writer is also needed when building a bot so that they can be programmed to respond in helpful, personal ways. The last thing you want is a robotic bot, right?

One of the most common use of business bots is the customer service chat bot. Many businesses now have a chat function on their website and chat bots are a popular way to handle simple requests. For example, if a user asks for an order status on tracking number X, the bot can be programmed to pull that data and give it to the user; no human necessary. If the situation escalates or gets too complicated for the bot, it can seamlessly be transferred to a human representative.

How They Are Being Used

The most common use for bots are to manage business’s chat function. As mentioned before, this is often in the form of customer service, but can be sales bots as well. They can easily be programmed to perform basic transactions and answer questions about products.

Two other great applications for bots in business are for IT and internal departments like HR. IT companies are using bots to answer technical questions, and in some cases, actually fix technical issues too. For internal use, like in an HR department, bots can be used to answer questions like “how many vacation days do I have?” or to process paystub copy requests. Bots are not only capable of answering questions, but can be functional too. They do a great job at handling simple requests to save the human employees the time spent on menial (but necessary) tasks.

Why Bots for Business are Getting So Popular

The benefits of business bots are probably becoming pretty obvious: they are great at saving companies time and money. They can handle simple tasks that soak up the time of personnel, and eliminate the chance for human error in these tasks. Although humans usually still need to be present when situations escalate or surpass the bot’s programming, they can still be very helpful in handling lower level inquiries.

As the technology continues to be developed, bots for business are becoming cheaper and easier to program as well. They are much more accessible for every-day companies to afford and set up. For most companies, the benefits they offer weighed against their cost is a no-brainer.

Bots for Business

Bots are becoming common in businesses of all sizes and in all industries. Any business that handles monotonous tasks or customer inquiries would benefit from the use of a bot – so pretty much everyone. Every year, technology in the business community works to stream-line processes and make the lives of humans easier, and bots for business are a big step toward that goal.

What Is the Best Solution for Business Data Backup?

,
Business Data Backup

Did you know that 40% of companies without a data backup solution go out of business after they suffer a major data loss? Without a backup to call upon to restore the files on their computers, many businesses find it impossible to recover. If you haven’t already thought about a data backup solution for your business, don’t delay! Don’t let your company become a cautionary tale!

Why Do Businesses Need a Backup Solution?

The hard truth of it is, data loss happens. Whether it be human error, technical failure, natural disaster, or even a hack, businesses suffer major data losses every day.

Losing data on a personal device is frustrating, but losing business data can be completely devastating. Imagine if you woke up tomorrow and had no client information, lost all your leads, and every project you’ve ever worked on had vanished too. How would you pick up and carry on? As the statistic mentioned before tells us, many businesses cannot.

Cloud Backup

The backup method of choice for many businesses is cloud backup, and here’s why: it is by far the easiest and most reliable form of data backup for business owners.

The reason cloud backup is so easy for businesses, is that you can set it up with a cloud provider and, essentially, forget about it. For a monthly fee, the cloud provider will run continuous backups without you needing to remember to do anything. As long as you pay your bill, all of your business’s data will always be there. Should a data loss happen, all your information is waiting to be restored, exactly as it was.

Cloud backup’s popularity is also due to that fact that it is incredibly reliable. You do not need to worry about keeping an external hard drive or server in your location with IT staff hired to maintain it. The cloud provider manages the security and updates of your data for you. The cloud, believe it or not, is actually more secure than a traditional network. Not only are you a lot less likely to get hacked, but should the unexpected happen, you now have an off-site copy of all your data ready to be restored.

Why Use a Cloud Backup Provider vs. DIY

The benefits of going with a cloud provider for your backup solution vs. using a DIY solution are staggering. When you rely on yourself or an employee to create backups, you bring the factor of human error back into the equation. With a service provider, the backups are set to be updated regularly by an automated system. Unfortunately, humans are far less reliable than automation, and often forget to make the updates or do so incorrectly and can end up inadvertently corrupting and leaving out important files.

With a DIY solution, you can forget about the idea of restoring your system immediately after a data loss. Most DIY recovery takes days, or even weeks, to restore. On the other hand, a cloud service provider takes mere minutes to restore all of your lost files. Can your business operate for weeks without any of your past data or client information? Don’t wait until a loss happens to find out!

How Cloud Backup Works

For users, cloud backup is a “set it up and forget about it” type of system. How it works is, the cloud provider takes “snap shots” of your desktop, your files, and all data on a regular basis. Via the internet, that information is sent to the cloud provider’s servers where it is stored. On an on-going basis, a new snap shot is taken, and sent over to update the old snap shot. There is nothing that the business owner needs to remember to do or worry about managing.

Should a data loss happen, the business owner simply needs to get in touch with their cloud provider and request that their data be restored. It’s as simple as that.

What Is the Best Solution for Business Data Backup?

There is a reason that almost every business these days is using cloud backup. It is easy to manage and is unequivocally reliable. What are you waiting for? Set up cloud backup today.