The next few days could change how we think about protecting business value

Business Continuity Awareness Week is a good opportunity to look back on the Toronto ice storm and other events and assess your degree of readiness

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Plenty of people were celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on Monday, but that’s not the only thing that should be marked on the calendars of technology and business professionals.

Canada recognizes March 17-21, 2014 as Business Continuity Awareness Week (BCAW).  BCAW is an annual event used in raising the awareness of and showcasing the value of business continuity as an integrated part of any organization’s strategy.

This year’s BCAW theme is “Helping Protect Business Value”. While the benefits of business continuity planning are not usually obvious and the activity itself is not foolproof, the act of planning mitigates risk, which can go a long way to an easier and speedier recovery. Having and exercising a response plan saves you stress, time, money and helps keep service for your customers afloat – protecting your reputation and business.

Business continuity planning is a fundamental business practice designed to mitigate or eliminate the impacts of a major disruption on business. If you have ever had to work from home due to an issue at your workplace, or perform a manual workaround when business systems failed, or had to deal with the loss of communicating technology, you’ve been practicing common business continuity strategies.

At Allstream, we know that reliable communications are vital to both home and business, and are a key factor in our continued success. Allstream has a mature and award-winning business continuity program administered and staffed by certified business continuity professionals.  The purpose of this program is to ensure that all critical business processes and telecom technology that delivers products and services to customers are safeguarded from the potentially adverse effects of disasters or other major or unexpected events that might occur.

By following this program we are able to promote employee health, safety and security, and safeguard/ensure telecom network integrity for our customers during all operating conditions.

Through the program, we have assessed our exposure to various risks, and the potential impacts of those risks on our business. As a result, we have implemented and exercised a number of preventative and mitigation initiatives throughout the company to promote business continuity and a speedy recovery in the event of any major disruption.

A typical Business Continuity Plan has information that includes:

  • Procedures and tasks to promote the response to an event with the continuous delivery of essential / critical products and services to customers
  • Identification of necessary personnel (staff, partners and vendors) to support business continuity, including other resources (information, equipment, financial, cyber and physical security and asset /infrastructure protection.
  • Having a BCP enhances an organization’s image with employees, shareholders and customers by demonstrating a ‘state of emergency operations preparedness” in ensuring ‘business and usual” when a crisis, emergency or disaster strikes the work place

Learning from high impact, low probability events such as the Toronto Ice Storm , Calgary Flood, Boston Marathon Bombing and Hurricane Sandy in 2012 include:

  • Plans must be updated and tested frequently (minimum once a year)
  • Copies of plans should be accessible under all event conditions in a safe and secure location
  • All types of threats should be considered; Using an all hazards approach may limit preparedness
  • Business dependencies and interdependencies (internal and external) should be carefully analyzed
  • Key staff  and other personnel including vendors may be unavailable
  • Telecommunications are essential and alternate means should be explored, including leveraging social media
  • Have regional distance between primary and alternate sites for IT backup
  • Depending on the outcome of an event, plan for employee support and counselling
  • Incidents involving law enforcement can limit access staff’s return to the primary work place
  • Purchase, install, and pre-wire generators to buildings that are designated essential work places

Preparing for uncertainty takes time, money and resources, but surely preferable to saying …“We could and should have been better prepared.”

You can’t predict a disaster, but you can plan for one.

Check your readiness by taking our Business Continuity Self-Assessment Tool

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