While the threat of swine flu is all over the news, there are numerous reasons to have a business continuity plan in case you need to run your business remotely.
I asked a question on some of my LinkedIn Groups to see what IT Managers and CIO’s were doing, if they didn’t already have a business continuity plan in place. While some of the replies were (to say the least) sarcastic, others were very helpful with their advice.
According to a member of the Network World LinkedIn Group that works at Cisco, "they have already been told that they can request to work from home if we have concerns about health risks." He also said that “at Cisco teleworking has always been encouraged and everyone I know already uses the VPN to extend their day and people often work from home, so the infrastructure is already in place”.
Another fellow member of the CIO’s,com LinkedIn Group that works in Mexico City shared his company’s emergency plan. They were forced to send 90% of the staff home and will now work remotely. If you are a small business and you don’t have a business continuity plan yet, you really need one and here are some tips for support remote operations:
1. Business Impact Assessment must be done quickly but only to define vital functions for the company, do not try to do a BIA for entire company at this moment. Have this definition communicated to all IT, Finance, Operations and Sales teams to set clear business priorities.
2. Test the remote operations today, assure the functions defined in point one, can be operated remotely (VPNs, Laptop) [Do not open or change security], Assign an IT team to assure remote access (monitoring, VPNs and leased links administration and applications availability)
3. Set a Help Desk focused to help employees to get a connection to company systems
4. Distribute IT team to support vital operations
5. Set collaboration tools now (chats, remote meeting, soft phones)
6. Write down and publish a communication Network, including names and procedures
7. Call your local sales contact for laptops (will be better if you know how many laptops are available around and delivery times)
8. Identify outside providers that can run some business functions temporarily (distribution, payroll, invoicing, collections, etc) and evaluate cost, viability and timing to deliver and recover the functions
9. Write down and publish the main policies and procedures that will apply in this contingency plan (e.g. no changes in users profiles are allowed, all employees will be able to request a VPN access, when the contingency finishes all access will be revoked)
10. Keep your CEO informed all the time, and request funds and approvals to support the contingency, do the figures to support 1 month of remote operations.
Please add more tips or ideas in the comments and I can update the list.
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