Should the unthinkable happen and your current offices are damaged or destroyed, do you have a plan to carry on your business from an alternate location?
While it is true that with today’s technology, many businesses, especially small companies, can have their employees work from home; larger businesses will most likely need considerable space and resources to operate. Having all employees work from home is not feasible for all.
In many cases, it may be a combination of some employees working from home on a temporary basis while others report to an alternate facility.
Identify employees and their tasks
Each department manager should create a matrix listing their employees, the tasks they’re trained to do, what they need to do their jobs and whether or not they can temporarily perform their tasks from a home office.
For those that can work from home, provisions must be made ahead of time to make sure they’re equipped with the right technology to do so (i.e. laptops versus workstations, VPN capability, etc.). Needless to say, security plays an important role when employees work from home. Listen to your IT department!
Employees that cannot work from home will need an alternate location to go to. This Emergency Operations Center (EOC) must be equipped with whatever they’ll need to perform their jobs (i.e. computers, programs, access to company data, etc.).
There are many considerations to take into account and decisions should not be made in a vacuum. Brainstorm with your management team and make sure your IT department participates. They are the technology experts!
Some questions to ask BEFORE you make any decisions
- How many temporary offices will be needed? One large facility or a few smaller ones?
- Does the EOC have the proper power and space requirements?
- Who will operate from the EOC? IT, administration, accounting, etc.?
- Is the proper equipment at the EOC already (i.e. PCs, servers, desks, etc.) or must they be purchased or leased?
- Will the site be Hot (i.e. ready to go immediately) or Cold (setup/prep before going live)?
- Is the EOC just for you or will you be co-located with other businesses?
- What is the full cost (monthly rent, maintenance, set up, equipment purchases/leases, etc.)?
- Do you have a Hybrid-Cloud Business Continuity system that allows you to access your data from virtualized servers in the cloud?
- If not, and your office is damaged or destroyed, how will you get to your data?
The above is only a sample of the questions that must be asked and answered before making any decisions—there are more. Now is the time to flush them out—not during a disaster!
Answers to all of these questions should be documented in your Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP).
The Backup Facilities Matrix
After you answer all of the questions above, secure your EOC site(s) and equip them, create a matrix outlining your EOC plan for your DRP. Here’s what you need—at a minimum:
- Scope of Services (i.e. Full IT Services, Accounting, payroll, management, etc.)
- Type (Hot or Cold site)
- Average Time To Become Operational (how long will it take to prep site and get up and running)
- Limitations of Site
- Street Address
- Contact’s name (You should appoint someone in charge of the EOC)
- Contact’s Tel. Number
- Contact’s email
- Who Should Report (document which personnel should report to the EOC in event of Disaster)
- When to report (Refer back to your “Declaring A Disaster” portion of your DRP.
Use technology to your advantage by using a combination of emergency sites with work-from-home scenarios to keep costs down. Maintaining an EOC, whether hot or cold, is expensive and are mostly utilized by large companies with the financial resources.
A better way—The Hybrid-cloud Business Continuity Solution
The Hybrid-cloud Business Continuity solution utilizes an onsite device that takes images or snapshots of your server(s) at preset intervals, saves those images on the device and simultaneously sends them to two geographically dispersed data centers in the cloud for redundancy.
Should your server(s) fail, the latest image is virtualized on the onsite device and, in effect, becomes a software version of the server(s). Employees’ workstations are redirected to the virtualized server(s) and your company can continue working business-as-usual until the hardware is repaired or replaced.
Should your office get damaged or destroyed, server(s) can be virtualized in the cloud and employees’ workstations redirected to access their data from the EOC and/or home locations.
The Hybrid-cloud makes expensive, separately equipped and maintained, EOCs necessary only for the largest of companies. Other businesses can lease temporary office space for their employees and run IT operations from the cloud enjoying immediate access to their data, minimizing downtime.
Businesses of all sizes must think about Business Continuity rather than just merely recovering from a disaster. As managers, you must prepare for service interruptions as well as catastrophic events that forces a company relocation.
In any event, your Disaster Recovery Plan should make provisions for both scenarios and your IT Backup solution must provide access to your data quickly and efficiently—no matter what happens. As we have seen above, the Hybrid-cloud makes that possible and cost effective for most businesses.
XSolutions is an Elite Partner of Datto, the world leader in Hybrid-Cloud Business Continuity solutions whose systems protect 460+ Petabytes of data with over 1400+ employees and 9 offices around the globe. Call (845) 362-9675 and let us introduce you to the ultimate defense against data loss—whatever the cause. Backup & Disaster Recovery | Business Continuity | Data Risk Assessment