How to Make an IT Disaster Recovery Plan

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How to Make an IT Disaster Recovery Plan

Today it is nearly impossible to do business without modern technology. It has become ingrained in every industry, from how work orders are created, to how projects are managed. With this reliance on technology though comes the danger of jeopardizing your business in the event of an IT disaster. How do you combat this danger? By creating an IT disaster recovery plan.

Create a List of Possible Threats

Before you can begin to plan how to get through an IT disaster, sit down and write out a list of possible threats. Start with very realistic threats and work your way out to less common scenarios. For your IT disaster recovery plan, focus on those scenarios that are a threat to your IT infrastructure. These sort of threats are everything from cyber attacks, to system failures, to even floods. You will likely see some overlap in the types of threats you imagine, but create a long list regardless. It pays to be thorough.

Plan Reactions to These Threats

Now that you’ve got your list of threats to your IT infrastructure, go through each scenario and plan how you and your business would react. What steps would you need to take to stop the threat if possible? How would you recover any lost data? What role would certain employees need to play? How would you continue business as usual with customers, if possible?

As you plan these reactions you can begin to narrow threats down into similar categories with similar solutions. If a fire and a flood both have the same steps to recovery, combine the plans.

Take Necessary Steps to Prepare for These Threats

When running through your plan to react to these IT threats, you have probably noticed a few gaps in your own IT infrastructure. For example, if you have no data backup system in place, you’ve probably realized how out of luck you would be if you lost of your data due to a system failure. Make a plan to take the necessary steps now to make your IT disaster recovery as painless as possible. The more time you put into preparing for disaster, the less it will cost you when the time comes.

Brief Employees

Preparing your IT recovery strategy will involve the cooperation of many moving parts – employees included. You should not only work with key employees in developing your plan, but you also need to brief everyone on what steps to take in each given scenario. The sales team should know how to continue business, customer service should know how to work with affected customers, and of course, IT personnel should know what role they play in the recovery plan.

Run Drills

How will you know your recovery plan works? Run a few drills to look for missing pieces of the plan and to ensure every employee knows their part. Practicing getting through these “disasters” will be both team building and educational.

IT Disaster Recovery Plan

You don’t have to go this road alone! An IT partner can be a lifesaver in the event of a disaster. Work with an IT provider to create back-ups of your business data, set up an off-site server, and put a plan in place for data recovery. Not only are IT providers a great help with day to day functions, but they can set you up to survive anything on your list of possible disasters.

Big Data Can be Helpful for Small Businesses Too

big data

Innovative ways to gather and analyze big data has been a driving force behind business technology in recent years. The phrase has gained some negative press when companies like Facebook collect and use data in an illegal or shady way, but when done right, knowing how to use big data can be a game changer for businesses. Not just big business either. You may not realize it, but your small business likely already has mountains of data waiting to be aggregated and analyzed.

What is “Big Data?”

The idea of “big data” is gathering a lot of information on your business and it’s target customers. Then, you can use this data to look for trends, find flaws, identify gaps in your services, and so much more to run your business better. For example, one popular way to use big data is with your CRM. If you collected all of the data on the path your leads take before they convert to customers, you could develop a stream-lined process that could greatly increase the likelihood of closing the sale. Maybe you find that customers that are reached out to within a week of an initial sales meeting convert at a much higher rate than those contacted two weeks after, or maybe you find that customers who see a sale person in-person spend 25% more than those contacted over the phone. Looking for and finding trends like this can be a game changer.

Where Do I Get this Data?

The good news is – you likely have already collected a lot of data you can begin to analyze. Your CRM, ordering platform (if that applies), Google Analytics account, email service, etc. already hold a lot of data waiting to be examined.

By diving deeper into the platforms your business already uses, you can pull reports and start identifying trends in no-time. Many of these services likely already have report features built in. If not, reaching out to the provider to request bulk exports of your data is another option. Once you decide on the KPIs you are looking for, use a program like Excel to help you analyze and display this data in a meaningful way.

Identify Problems

With the help of big data, finding flaws in your sales process or on your website just got a whole lot easier. Look for things like common stages where leads tend to drop off and focus on fixing that stage of the process. On your website or in other marketing efforts, look for landing pages or ads that have worse success rates than others and stop sending traffic there until you can improve them. In a perfect world, customers would tell you “oh I liked your ad but then I got to the landing page and format was just unreadable, that’s why I left your website and didn’t convert.” That doesn’t happen though, so use big data to find those problems you likely never even realized existed.

Optimize Work Flows

A stream-lined work flow is essential to lead nurturing. You may not realize it, but even if you don’t have a formal plan in place, you likely already use a work flow. Even just having a normal way you follow up with inquiries from potential customers is a work flow.

Use your CRM of email marketing tool (if you use one) to find those points where leads tend to fall off. Use the data to also find those extra touch points that seem to increase the likelihood of a conversion. Seek out these trends and incorporate them into a standard workflow you can use every time!

Big Data for Small Businesses

You don’t have to be a huge company to be able to gather and leverage data. Understanding the behavior of your potential customers and taking advantage of the trends you see will put you head and shoulders above your competition. Your small business may not always stay small, so paying attention big data now will help you scale and run your business in a much more efficient way.

Why to Let Your Employees Work Remotely

employees work remotely

Why is letting employees work remotely is a good practice to adopt? If you’re reading this, you’re probably a business owner/manager and are torn between letting employees work from home and requiring that they be in the office. While all businesses and situations are different, we’re going to give you all the information you need about working remotely to make the best decision for your employees and company.

Less Distractions

Working in an office with multiple people is often distracting. Someone sneezes or opens a noisy bag of chips and, all of a sudden, you’ve lost your train of thought. When working remotely, employees have full control over their environment, and the freedom to focus how he/she knows they can best. This increases productivity and ultimately ROI.

Increased Employee Happiness

Employees who work fully or partially remotely have reported increased happiness with both their company and the work they’re doing. There is a lot to be said from this. Why increased happiness? They spend less time doing the not-so-fun things that come with working in an office, like commuting and dealing with annoying coworkers, and more time doing the work they actually enjoy. Not to mention, no one likes to feel micro managed with their boss breathing down their neck and looking over their shoulder all the time. Working remotely means working in the style you know you are happiest with.

Less Time Off

Employees who work from home have been shown to take less time off of work for vacations and sick days. It’s much easier to work from home when you are feeling a bit under the weather instead of driving into an office and trying not to cough all over your coworkers. Not to mention, the risk of spreading office sicknesses is practically eliminated. One of the main reasons employees take time off is because they need a “break” from their work/workplace. When working from home, people don’t get exhausted from work as easily and will therefore need less time to “recover” with vacation time.

Working from home also means no “snow days.” If you are expecting weather, have employees either plan to work from home or prepare to be able to if need be. If you live in a location with harsh winters, setting employees up to work from home on snow days can make a big impact on productivity.

Better Talent

Have you ever run into the dilemma of searching for candidate resumes online and come across one that perfect for your open position, only to find out that they live across the country? When you introduce the ability to work remotely, you open the door to talent outside of your local area and have a wider selection to choose from. Don’t limit yourself to just local candidates.

There is Still Flexibility

When it comes to letting your employees work remotely, you don’t have to go all in right away. If you’re still unsure about the idea, start by letting them work from home one day a week and see how it goes. Plenty of companies offer partial remote work instead of fully remote positions and see the same benefits as stated above. It is completely dependent on your industry, business, and employees. Find what feels right for you.

It’s Easier Than Ever

Now that we know the benefits of letting employees work remotely, how can you make it possible? Cloud Colorado offers remote desktop services so your employees can work anywhere, from any device, at any time. No matter what device they log in on, their entire desktop will be waiting for them as though they were sitting in the office. With all the above benefits and now the means to facilitate the work, why not give it a go?

Why Business Intelligence is Important for Small Businesses

Business intelligence

What is Business Intelligence?

Business Intelligence (BI) in an umbrella term that encompasses all aspects of a business’s applications, infrastructure, and tools used for the analysis of business information. BI data is usually displayed in the form of graphs and charts for easy evaluation and understanding. It is used to support better business decision making and determine best business practices.

Why is It Important?

Business Intelligence is a vital part of any organization because it allows the business to understand and improve upon its business practices. By gathering internal data and comparing it to companies within the same industry, businesses are able to gain a better understanding of their performance and value compared to their competitors. This is especially valuable to small businesses due to their difficulty to develop and compete with larger companies and corporations. By having easy-to-analyze data, businesses are able to quickly and effectively compare their performance to competitors and begin to improve on their logistics.

Business Intelligence Trends

Businesses run on data, so it makes sense for that data to be easily accessible. Companies are now relying on their business intelligence services to be always accessible from anywhere at any time. Having a platform that can quickly combine and display data from multiple sources and create accurate calculations and visualizations is needed. The solution to these business needs is Cloud Computing. By being able to access company data securely from anywhere, the amount of equipment, power, and time needed to conduct business is drastically reduced.

Why Move to the Cloud?

Cloud computing allows you to streamline your business services with modern cloud technology. Benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • Instantly drop your overall IT expenses (hardware, software, maintenance, and power) by 50% or more.
  • Automatic disaster recovery and protection from fire, flood, theft, viruses, and other natural disasters.
  • Instantly access your e-mail and files from home or on the road from any device.
  • Save on electricity and drastically reduce the equipment that needs to be purchased.
  • Increased cyber security – the cloud is actually more secure than a traditional network.

There is no use continuing to rely on old and outdated technology when there is a simple and cost-effective option available. Business cloud services from CloudColorado are the perfect solution to all of your business intelligence needs. Contact us today to learn how we can simplify your business’s reporting and data integration.

Why a DIY Backup Solution Just Doesn’t Cut it for Business

DIY Backup Solution

When it comes to backing up the data of your business, cutting out any margin of error is vital. The information stored by businesses, like client databases, lead lists, and project files, is far too valuable to ever allow to be lost. The first step in securing your business’s data is of course is acknowledging you need a backup solution, but it is equally important to pick a solution that fit for your needs. Let’s explore what needs to be considered, and why in most cases, a DIY backup solution just won’t cut it.

Human Error

The core goal of keeping a backup is to protect your data from something like accidental deletion, computer failure, a natural disaster, and whatever else could cause you to lose valuable data. So why put the element of human error back into the equation by picking a DIY backup solution?

A few of the many reasons DIY data backups fail are accidental deletions, incomplete backups, forgetting to update the backup, losing an external hard drive, etc. So how to avoid these risks? Go with a backup solution that is automated. The backup will be run periodically and be done completely digitally. Remove humans from the process all-together.

Backups Needs to be Off-Site

The idea of just keeping an external hard drive or backup server in your office might be appealing for the ease of it. But what happens when your office is robbed, sabotaged by a disgruntled employee, or flooded? Now you’ve lost of your computers, AND your backup.

One of the essential pieces of a solid backup plan is keeping the backup data off-site. With a cloud backup provider, your files will be kept far away in a safe and secure place. There is no reason for your backup data to ever be in the same location as your primary storage.

Expert & Timely Data Restoration

Imagine the worst happens, and some sort of event causes you to lose all of your primary files. Do you now want to scramble to figure out how to restore an entire network of computers, and pray not only that it works, but takes less than a few weeks to get your data back? I am sure you are seeing dollars signs flying out the window with this thought – and this is exactly what would happen with most DIY backup solutions.

Now imagine losing your data, and dialing a number, speaking with someone at your cloud backup provider, and POOF! Within minutes, your computer network is once again populated with your files, exactly how you left it. Which version of this scenario would you rather go through?

Peace of Mind

As every worry-wart knows, peace of mind is priceless. Knowing your business’s files are safe no matter what happens to your or your employee’s computers is the best peace of mind there is. Considering how many small companies go out of business after a major data loss (spoiler alert: it’s a lot), knowing you have a team of experts running automated backups, stored on their secure off-site servers, will give you the best sense of security there is.

Learn More About Cloud Backup