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[ Spotlight: Continuity planning ]

help get your systems back, and pretty much anything else you desire, if you feel that these services are worth paying for. They will even help you create your plans if you do not have the time to do so yourself.

IT and voice infrastructure This will vary dramatically from company to company and will depend on the existing infrastructure in place. The options range from having another server or servers

that you keep offsite – perhaps at your BCP outsource facility – through to buying a new server and building it from scratch. The decision here is all around how quickly you need to be back up and running. Having another server that is synchronised will get you up and running far quicker than having to build a new server from scratch. The downside is the cost, but that should be weighed up against the loss of revenue that you may experience if you are not able to trade. If you decide to go down the renting rack space route, then

you can use server virtualisation as way of having multiple servers running on a single box. This will keep costs down, as long as you have the IT expertise available in-house or available from an outsource provider. On the voice side, if you use an outsource provider, most contracts come with a shared switchboard. However, if you

Plans should change over time to reflect the changing nature of your business

go it alone, then it would be worth looking at using non- geographic numbers, such as 0845 (local rate), which can be remapped far more quickly to a new number than typical exchange lines.

Paper This could be the biggest legacy problem to overcome. Many companies have vast amounts of paper that do not exist in a digital form. If that is the case, you need to look at how you would cope if that paperwork were to be lost forever, say in a fire. One option is to start to scan all your paper, but some organisations will have a small rainforest to contend with, so you may need to be very selective in what you consider critical. If you are happy to spend some money, you can ship out your paperwork to be electronically scanned, as there are companies that will handle this for you.

Testing the plan It is essential that once you have created and agreed your plan, you must make sure you test it, as that is the only real way to gain confidence in the plan. That said, this is not always straightforward, as you do not wish to disrupt the workings of the business too much. But on the other hand, to test a plan fully you need to remove the live systems and infrastructure in order to make it a real-world test. You need to think carefully about how much you can replicate offsite and how many staff you can spare for the test, whilst ensuring your business can continue to run. In our experience, testing is invaluable, and when the ECA

runs tests we always seem to find something different that had not come up before, reflecting the changing nature of the business. Also, testing each year means you can expose different staff members to the experience, so should the plan ever have to be put into practice you will have people who understand the process and feel comfortable with it.

Periodic review In addition to periodic testing, you need to ensure that all your call trees and plans are kept up to date. In a test, it may not be possible to use call trees as you would in a real situation, and as we have previously mentioned, plans should change over time to reflect the changing nature of your business. Also, make sure all the necessary documents are available

offsite. The way that the ECA handles this is that every member of BCP team is issued with an encrypted USB stick and a means to update the files on it. That stick is then carried with the person or left offsite in a safe place. We also store some items in what the BCP provider terms a ‘battle box’, which is like a locker you would find in your local gym. You could store a copy of the plans in there if you have one in your contract. In closing, it is worth remembering that major incidents

do happen in the UK, and on every occasion companies have suffered. But while major events grab the headlines, it is often more commonplace events, like fires and flooding, that take their toll on businesses. Hopefully, now you have read this article, if you do not

have a plan already in place you will think about creating one. As is often the case, there is always more detail that we could go into, but hopefully the above gives you some starters on planning for the worst.

May 2011 ECA Today 59


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