During business-as-usual times, it is perhaps all too easy not to dwell on what could happen if disaster strikes.
This is backed up by surveys which have suggested more than a quarter of UK companies are unprepared for the impact of a major disruptive incident.
Nearly half of those that do have plans in place haven’t put them to the test in the previous 12 months. Even more concerning, it is estimated that as many as 40%-60% of small businesses never reopen after being hit by a major disaster.
For many organisations, the impact of Covid-19 will already have brought into sharp focus the unexpected and sudden shocks which they can face, and exposed weaknesses in their operating models.
For example, although some will have been able to switch relatively seamlessly to home working, for others it will have quickly become apparent that they didn’t have the infrastructure in place or effectively tested just how their workforce would function remotely.
The unique challenges which the pandemic has posed highlights why having a regularly reviewed and flexible business continuity and recovery plan is important to both cope with and recover from a crisis.
A key issue which Covid-19 has highlighted is the importance of having technology which enables all office-based staff to work from anywhere. However, for it to be effective it is also crucial that staff are comfortable with using it and regular training sessions to refresh knowledge or highlight new features of particular solutions are worth considering. Guidelines covering working from home, the use of personal devices for work and video conferencing also need to be in place and updated.
The changes to working patterns which Covid-19 has brought will also raise issues around how IT teams provide support to staff, including the logistics of replacing equipment if needed.
The impact of network outages if energy supplies are impacted and whether alternative communication channels such as mobile hotspots should be in place also need to be considered.
Third party suppliers and staffing issues
Although you may be confident in your organisation’s ability to weather a storm, it is important to also assess risks to your IT supply chain.
There will inevitably be casualties among businesses from the Covid-19 pandemic and assessing how robust your suppliers are and whether changes are needed to relationships and service agreements is vital.
If a key supplier did fail, what would be the implications and how quickly would you be able to procure alternatives?
With the pandemic also seeing a proportion of the workforce falling ill, employers also need to ensure that their business continuity plans address issues around key staff. If a significant proportion of an IT team was incapacitated for example, what would the risks be to business operations and how could they be mitigated?
Covid-19 has already caused huge disruption and the crisis is far from over. On top of the economic impact the heightened risk of business failure and cyber-attack means it is more important than ever that robust business continuity and recovery plans are in place.
Want to find out more?
Gemserv has worked with many organisations to implement Business Continuity Management (BCM) approaches benchmarked against ISO 22301, the best practice standard. This provides confidence that the full potential impact of a disruptive incident across information, technology, premises and staff has been assessed and mitigated.
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