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abandoned or if staff can’t get to their offices and vital documents are still paper-based, then there will be no way that business can continue during the crisis in any meaningful way.

Of course, while achieving the totally paperless ideal is still some way off, many businesses have digitised much of their day to day document traffic. On the other hand, most firms still also retain pockets of paper-led processes, particularly if they have large customer-facing operations. They also rely on knowledge stored in people’s heads or in personal spreadsheets and emails.

However, it’s not enough just to ensure that there’s a digital version of every document. These need to be organised, managed and stored securely in one central location so that they are quickly and easily accessible by employees working remotely. An enterprise

content management (ECM) system captures paper as secure electronic documents and content. Once data is under control, legal retention requirements can be implemented automatically, giving total visibility into the status of processes, documents and information.

Because all this information is managed electronically, duplicate copies of everything can be easily synchronised to off-site servers or held in the cloud, ensuring that data survives any disastrous event that comes along.

Granting access to this data will still be available via a secure website as soon as people can get back online. This frees up IT staff to focus on getting the on-site system up and running again as soon as possible and ensures employees can do essential work that supports the business.

USE THE CLOUD Many businesses are looking into

running applications in the cloud. Hosting an ECM system this way can deliver multiple benefits to businesses, including simplifying and protecting business data and documents further as they are no longer tied to a physical location. In other words, if staff do need to abandon office premises for any reason, they will still have continuous uninterrupted access to all information via the cloud, as if nothing had happened.

In a study by analyst firm the Aberdeen Group, it was found that businesses using the cloud could resolve issues nearly four times faster than those not using it. It also revealed that mid-sized businesses using the cloud recovered from disaster situations in only half the time taken by larger organisations.

Not only will the cloud provide peace of mind in the event of any disruption, it will also bring other benefits too. For example, it means that applications are quick to implement and are easily scalable. They can be deployed without huge upfront capital investment and instead purchased by monthly subscriptions. Also, collaboration on documents is easier for multi-location projects.

BE PARTNER-PARTICULAR Be careful not to replace the

business disaster recovery worry with another by selecting the wrong cloud application partner. Look for an established ECM-in-the-cloud vendor – and preferably one with a data centre in the same country as your organisation or head office.

Then, don’t hold back from discussing any security concerns you may have with them directly. These should include:

• Their own business disaster recovery plan. What happens if their system goes down? Reliable cloud providers are also usually security experts and will no doubt have robust contingency plans to share. But don’t forget to check;

• Do their security and performance levels match your needs? If you hold any form of sensitive data, such as customer information, you will need appropriate security around it;

• Does their solution work on- premises, as well as in the cloud? Your needs may change in time so make sure your chosen application works equally well whichever platform you choose;

• Can you withdraw your content easily? Some cloud providers make it easy to put content into their solution, but almost impossible to export it back out. A good cloud-based ECM solution will have dedicated content export tools to help migrate off the cloud if needed.

In many ways, it’s more about modernising processes and methods for better business than planning for any catastrophe. However, by doing this, businesses can be ready for anything while still concentrating on improving day-to-day processes – and then rest assured that future success is far more likely than disaster.


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