Maintenance is More than Computer Repair

When you think of downtime, you probably think about the power or your Internet connection going out and leaving you unable to do work. Unfortunately, these are anecdotes that seem benign, but are actually extraordinarily costly. When interruptions to your business’ computing infrastructure are constantly hindering productivity, you need to come up with a solution.

Technology-Induced Downtime

The way your technology functions is extremely important to reducing the amount of downtime your organization suffers. When your network and applications unexpectedly fail and crash, you will see substantial dips in productivity, a metric that is hard to quantify.

The best way to explain this is to look at how downtime affects large companies. According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime in the enterprise sector is about $5,600 per minute. In fact, 98-percent of enterprises say that an hour of operational downtime can cost well over $100,000.

 

Now, as a small business owner, you may be thinking that downtime is bad, but at least we don’t see that type of loss…Well, think again. Percentage of loss is right in line all the way down to mom-and-pop businesses. If you were to have an hour of operational downtime because a server component fails, you are looking at a massive loss. Sometimes, these losses are fatal for businesses that are unprepared.

Other Problems

The largest problem with downtime of any kind is the money you are spending to get nothing out of it. No other place is this more evident than having situational downtime that affects a number of your employees. Say one workstation fails in your office and it results in one person troubleshooting problems with a break/fix or onsite IT administrator. Not only are you getting nothing from the employee, you are also paying the technician a premium rate to support that piece of technology. If you think about it, one failed computer in the peak productivity hours of the workday will cost you at least hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

 

Then you have to consider: what if that were my server?

 

You quickly will understand that it is completely untenable to not do what you can to avoid large swaths of downtime inside your business.

What You Can Do

There are a few things you can do to actively fight downtime. They include:

Proactively Maintain Your Technology

The best thing that you can do for your business’ technology is to get a managed services provider to actively monitor and maintain all of your network-attached hardware. With state-of-the-art technology, an MSP can not only see how all of your technology is functioning, it can typically fix issues these systems have before they can become downtime-inducing problems.

Keep Your Software Updated

Malware is a big problem for any business. As such, there needs to be an ongoing policy that keeps all network-attached software updated and patched for security vulnerabilities. An exploit of any holes in your software can turn into major downtime and even worse, so keeping software updated has to be a priority.

Isolate Problems

One of the best ways to keep downtime to a minimum is to use technology services to do so. A comprehensive help desk offering can keep downtime to a minimum by giving employees direct access to tech support. Most times the help desk technician can help resolve issues in minutes, and even if they can’t they can expedite situations to the proper maintenance channels.

Comprehensive Backup

Finally, every business that utilizes information technology to their advantage needs to protect the data and infrastructure by having a comprehensive data backup and disaster recovery platform. The BDR backs up data in-house, and in the cloud to give organizations the peace of mind that no matter what happens, their data is safe.

 

If you own a business, limiting downtime is a priority. If you would like to learn how Point North Networks helps minimize downtime, give us a call today at 651-234-0895.

Maneuvering Around Microsoft Teams

Tip of the Week: Maneuvering Around Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a video communication and collaboration platform that your organization can use to great success, but it helps to have a couple of pointers so you can make the most out of the software. Here are five ways you can maximize the value you get out of your Microsoft Teams software.

If you don’t already use Teams, you can think of it like this: it’s similar to other services out there, like Slack and Discord, in that it gives you access to various channels for communication through a variety of mediums, like video, instant messaging, voice chat, and so on. Knowing how to get the most out of Teams means maximizing your use of these features and using them to their fullest potential.

Pin Important Messages

While you are chatting with your team or coworkers in Teams, you might notice recurring themes in your conversations. If you think something is important enough to keep at the top of the conversation at all times, you can pin that message to the top by clicking on the pin icon. This will keep it in place so that everyone who opens the chat will see that message first. All you have to do is click the three-dot symbol on a message and select Pin.

Tag Someone in Conversations

Sometimes you really need someone to chime in and contribute to the conversation. In cases like this, you can use the @ symbol to tag someone in the conversation. This will send the user a notification that you have tagged them in the chat and are hoping they will respond. It’s not the best or most perfect way to convince someone to contribute, but it at least lets them know you want them to see the message.

Organize Your Teams Into… Well, Teams (And Channels)

Teams operates on the premise that your communications are segmented into various “teams,” or specific places dedicated to collaboration for various groups of employees or departments. You should have your Teams set up so that each department has their own dedicated space to collaborate as needed. These Teams can be further split into Channels for specific purposes, all of which can be customized according to what your needs are. For example, you might have a Team set up for human resources where only your HR staff are allowed to chat or view the messages within, or the same could be said for the executives within your company. Be sure to control permissions for these Teams and Channels as needed.

Connect Teams to Other Office Applications

As a Microsoft software solution, Teams integrates quite well with other Microsoft tools. For example, it can connect and sync to OneDrive and OneNote, which is helpful for when you need to share files with others within your organization. Furthermore, you can add files and other documents directly to your various Teams and Channels so that users in those Teams or Channels have access to them quickly and efficiently. It’s a great way to make sure everyone has access to the information they need to be successful and productive throughout the workday.

 

To learn more about how you can utilize Teams as best you can, reach out to us at 651-234-0895.

 

Tip of the Week: Using Your Voice to Type in Microsoft Word

Typing on your keyboard is something that you do every day, but sometimes you just don’t want to do it. You can give your hands a break and use Microsoft Word’s dictation feature; this lets you use your voice to write in the software. Let’s go over how you might use the feature on a desktop, web browser, or mobile device.

 

On Your Desktop Application

If you use Microsoft Word on your desktop or a laptop, you can use the built-in dictation feature. From the Home tab, click on the Dictate button. It is the blue microphone in the top-right corner. You can then click on the gear icon to adjust the settings as needed. Some of these settings include auto-punctuation, language filtering, and dialect. You can use the pause or unpause buttons to take a break when needed. There is also a guide available to show you how to do things like add punctuation.

On the Browser Version of Word

The browser version of Word is exactly the same as the desktop version; you just go to the Home tab and use the Dictate button. The settings are mostly the same, too, so just follow the directions as they appear in the previous paragraph. You can click the X to close out of dictation.

On Your Mobile Device

The mobile application version of MS Word gives you an easy-to-use button just above the keyboard for dictation. You’ll see a microphone on it. The same features as outlined above work here in the same way. To stop dictation, click on the keyboard icon that will take the place of the dictation button.

 

Sure enough, it’s easy to use the dictation feature, and that’s probably by design. However, we do want to make sure you are aware that you should be proofreading your work, as anything voice-related can be somewhat unreliable on its own.

 

For even more great tips and tricks, subscribe to our blog.

 

Remote Work Is More Normal Now that It Has Ever Been

Remote work is more common than ever before, but it wasn’t always this way. It’s still a relatively new method of operations, and while there are quite a few benefits for both employees and employers, there are other impacts related to remote work that can have far-reaching consequences.

We want to address some of the positive and negative impacts that this remote work trend has had on society.

Housing Costs and Availability May Balance Out

Big cities might have more opportunities for employment, but the cost of housing often makes it difficult for people to commit to employment opportunities in these areas. There is often a housing shortage in metropolitan areas, and as things stand now, the country is short almost 4 million homes (as of early 2021), with most of this shortage being located in places where these jobs are considered valuable.

 

Remote work, if the shift to full-time remote work is utilized, means that these jobs can be filled by people without requiring them to purchase or rent a home in these high-cost locations. Someone working remotely could work remotely for a company halfway across the country and live in a place where housing costs are significantly less expensive. Some experts believe that this trend would increase the cost of living in more rural or suburban areas while decreasing the costs associated with big city life.

 

However, if this is to become a reality, there needs to be a balance between the increased cost of more affordable housing and decreased cost of urban living. One example can be seen in the Tulsa Remote program, where Tulsa, Oklahoma residents are offered several perks—including a $10,000 grant—to all those remote workers who come to live in the city for at least one year. This type of investment means that Tulsa has been attracting new, high-earning residents, resulting in a return on their investment of $13.77 for each dollar spent on remote workers willing to relocate to the city.

The Climate Could Benefit

It’s reasonable to think that a decrease in urban living would lead to more vehicles on the road, as the decrease in public transportation access and walkable amenities would mean more people driving from one place to another. However, what if the opposite were true? What if having more people in these less-urban locations means that there would be greater incentive for these walkable amenities or greater demand for public transportation? The climate would surely benefit if this were the case.

 

Remote work has also led to a significant decrease in travel for many people, such as eliminating the morning commute, business travel, cross-country air travel, etc. All of these decreased emissions could do wonders for the environment.

Let’s Be Clear—We’re a Long Way from Ubiquitous Remote Work

We’ve discussed some of the obstacles, like changes in housing costs and zoning laws, but some places simply aren’t remote-friendly. Access to the Internet limits remote work capabilities for some people, especially when you consider that much of the country still doesn’t have access to broadband Internet.

 

Despite these obstacles, however, we are committed to helping your business make a shift to remote work, should you desire to make that change for your organization. To learn more, reach out to us at 651-234-0895.

Automation Any Business Can Fit In Their Business Plan

In modern businesses, automation can be implemented in a lot of ways, but for small businesses, it may be more difficult to find ways to incorporate time-saving automation. In this week’s blog we’ve decided to point out a few ways even the smallest business can use automation to their advantage and give their employees the freedom to focus on revenue creating processes.

 

Use a CRM

The efficiency of creating and sustaining leads can be troublesome for any business, but by utilizing the automated tools presented by a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system your business can improve your sales and marketing efforts quickly by automating some of the minutiae that comes with those efforts. By using a CRM you can improve customer satisfaction and completely manage your sales process. Most CRMs have the capability to handle the process of getting your business the right customers for the right products/services and then building that relationship without having to spend a lot of time and effort to do so.

Social Media Management

Social media is likely a big part of your business’ ability to attract new customers and interact with your current clientele. By using automated tools to schedule out your social media efforts, you can not only engage more people over more platforms, you can stay organized. Getting your message out over social media can be a fairly easy and repeatable process, a perfect environment for automation to help your business’ efforts in that arena.

Customer Support

The biggest problem for small businesses is typically that the amount of resources they can spend on support is lacking due to budgetary constraints. If the people that are responsible for the production of a business’ products/services are also given the responsibility of being the support system of those products/services, it can significantly reduce the advancement of those products/services. Today, there are many automated tools outfitted with artificial intelligence that can effectively handle a lion’s share of the customer support. Specifically, chatbots are a tool that can allow you to handle a series of customer problems without the need for workers constantly being available to provide support.

Meeting Scheduling

Having to constantly schedule meetings can be a time-intensive task as people have variable schedules that don’t always line up. This typically means meetings are held without people or serially rescheduled, reducing productivity and grinding workflows to a halt. Automating the scheduling of meetings and appointments normalizes scheduling and avoids conflicts while bringing enhanced efficiency to your business.

Procurement

With supply chains a mess, it can often be hard to get the components or products you need quickly. Today, businesses can use inventory management applications to automate the ordering of certain goods to ensure that goods are there when your business needs them. This can be something as simple as paper goods, but can also work on mission critical components as well.

 

Automation is giving small businesses the ability to compete with larger businesses in their markets through end-to-end advanced efficiency. If you would like to talk to one of our IT specialists about the integration of tools that allow you to save time and money, give us a call at 651-234-0895 today.

Employee Cybersecurity Efforts

Behind Employee Cybersecurity Efforts or Lack Thereof

Cyberattacks can cost businesses a lot of money. They’re also more prevalent today than ever before. It seems you can’t go a couple of news cycles without hearing about some organization that has been hacked or scammed and it’s resulted in the sensitive data the organization holds being sold online, vast operational downtime, or worse. For this reason, many organizations have deliberately built up their cybersecurity infrastructure, enhanced their policies, and invested in training to ensure that they aren’t the next victim. Unfortunately, this attention doesn’t always work.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has found that cyberattacks increased about 400 percent from 2019 to 2020. Doing what you can to keep your organization’s computing resources secure is extremely important. The cybersecurity outlays made by businesses and other organizations have been immense, and that has led to a sobering reality. Most of any organization’s security problems, especially relating to malware deployment, is due to their employees’ lack of conscientious decision-making when faced with problematic situations.

It doesn’t matter how much more secure or how much smarter you make your organization’s information system security, it can all be for naught if one employee doesn’t do what they should. This is extremely frustrating for IT people, since it is one of their core responsibilities to keep these systems secure. Let’s take a look at how employees fail to keep their credentials secure and what you can do to remedy this worrisome trend.

Employees as Attack Vectors

Increasingly, workplace strategies have been altered significantly. In fact, millions of workers are currently working remotely now, effectively distributing a business’ operational network. For the IT professional who is in tune with the current threat landscape, workers that don’t do everything they can to protect organizational data and infrastructure are typically viewed as ignorant; or worse yet, as a saboteur. Unfortunately for everyone, the driving factor is not negligence or a willingness to do their organization harm, it is out of workplace stress, a factor that is difficult to quantify, and harder yet to eliminate.

A study conducted by the Harvard Business Review found some interesting results about the role stress plays in maintaining their assumed role in protecting their organization’s cybersecurity. The study found that two-of-every-three workers failed to fully adhere to organizational cybersecurity policies at least once in the 10 workdays where the study was conducted. During the study, it was found that employees simply ignore the cybersecurity policies around five percent of the time. This may not seem like a lot, but if you consider that it only takes one non-compliant action to result in a major data breach, having dozens of such instances happen each day is putting organizations in jeopardy.

You may be asking yourself, “If they follow procedure 19 times out of 20, why don’t they follow it that other time?” Well this is where this seemingly clear issue gets cloudy. The study got the answer to this question. The top three were:

  • “To better accomplish tasks for my job.”
  • “To get something I needed.”
  • “To help others get their work done.”

In fact, of all the respondents, 85 percent that were non-compliant to their organizational cybersecurity policies responded with one of these three answers. These employees knowingly broke the rules and in doing so put their organization in jeopardy, but not because they were lazy or they just had it, it was because that was the only way they could efficiently get the work done. Situations where a person is damned if they do and damned if they don’t, they tend to pick the priority.

To most workers, they weren’t hired as cybersecurity professionals; they are hired to do a job and if cybersecurity policy gets in the way, they will choose productivity over security every time. If you consider that only three percent of policy breaches were acts of true defiance or sabotage, the 97 percent of the rest are likely perpetuated by dutiful employees. It’s hard to justify stern reprimand for a person who thinks they have the business’ best interests in mind.

Redefining the Importance of Cybersecurity

For the average employee, following procedure is typically going to be a distant second to maintaining productivity. After all, there are very few instances over time where someone was labeled as “great at their job” because they didn’t accidentally start a cyberattack. Moreover, most organizations’ IT support team can’t really give people the benefit of the doubt; most employees that don’t follow security procedures are looked on as negligent or deliberately working against their best efforts. The truth is most training platforms and policies (as they are known to the employee) don’t take into account that there are gray areas that don’t line up with the expectations put on employees by their managers.

To this end, it is more important than ever for employees to be involved in the creation and development of workable cybersecurity policies that take into account that business moves fast and sometimes a person that is focused on doing the best job they can, isn’t going to be focused on maintaining network security. Managers also need to ensure the members of their team know what they need to do and what those actions accomplish to reinforce the importance of their cybersecurity efforts.

Most businesses celebrate employees that excel at their jobs. Today, their job is actively changing and they have to know why straying from procedure is a major problem. The problem is that one wrong move and the company is dealing with malware and reputation troubles, and loss of revenue. While it might be ridiculous to celebrate adherence to corporate cybersecurity policies, people have had cake for less.

If your business needs help balancing productivity with their cybersecurity policies, give the IT security professionals at Point North Networks, Inc., a call today at 651-234-0895.

 

 

Get More Efficient with Technology and Shifts in Strategy

Collaboration is important for many businesses and it is something that takes some time to master. In fact, a lot of businesses that do pretty well struggle when it comes to getting their project teams and operational staff to work together. Today, we thought we would take a look at technologies and strategies that will not only help collaboration, but can promise rises in productivity as well.

Voice over Internet Protocol

It’s no secret that the telephone system is one of any business’ most crucial tools. What may be a secret, however, is that you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to get the comprehensive business telephone system you need. Most businesses that still use telephone services through a telephone company are missing out on an opportunity to significantly cut their communications costs while also gaining access to some of the very best collaborative tools a business can have.

VoIP is a platform that uses your business’ Internet connection to fuel its telephone system. Not only does it provide the crystal-clear communication that customers and employees demand, it also provides options that no RJ11 cable can deliver. Services like video conferencing, text messaging, and mobile phone access make VoIP a much more valuable product than your typical business telephone service through the telephone company. With hundreds of additional features available, you can pick and choose the communications platform that is right for your needs and budget.

Cloud-Hosted Collaboration Tools

One of the positive elements that has come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is that since so many people worked (or are continuing to work) remotely that many businesses had to find a way to get their newly-remote employees the tools and resources they need(ed) to have a chance of success. A lot of businesses had moved some of their information systems to the cloud previously, of course, but the growth of cloud-hosted management software nearly tripled from March 2020 to today.

There are several platforms that work for businesses. Some choose to go with services that allow for one-button video conferencing, while others lean heavily on the message board and instant messaging capabilities. Some just provide collaborative access inside working documents. Regardless of what platform a business uses, however, it should be noted that it is all in a concerted effort to build a collaborative workforce in a time when a lot of their human resources need remote access.

Today, a business can get about any type of computing they need in a cloud-hosted platform from some of the top business software developers on the market. Google, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and others can be used to the benefit of just about any business that is looking to expand their computing capabilities to the cloud to adapt to an increasingly-remote workforce.

Move Support Off Production Workers

For many businesses, the same people that create products and services are forced into support roles due to budget constraints. If you want your team to be on point and working collaboratively, having to juggle support issues could be negatively affecting their productivity. There are several ways that you can move support off of your employees. They include:

  • A rotating support schedule – Instead of having support be a major distraction for your whole staff, consider assigning one or two workers to handle support calls and requests on a rotating schedule. Not only does this provide fairness, it also ensures that your product and service support is covered as it is a crucial part of your offering.
  • Hire new workers for support – If you have extra capital, hiring a support staff is one of the most effective ways to get returns out of a department that doesn’t bring in much in the way of revenue.
  • Use technology – Nowadays there are artificially-intelligent platforms that can be used to handle organizational support queries effectively and keeps the amount of human resources involved with support to a minimum.

Collaboration is going to continue to be a key for a lot of businesses as purse strings tighten in the near future. Getting your team to work together improves your products, services, and your customers’ experience. If you would like to talk to one of our knowledgeable IT consultants about how to integrate the right technology to get your team working together more effectively, give us a call today at 651-234-0895.

 

 

How to Get Get More Done and Feel Better About It

Maintaining a standard of consistent productivity can be difficult. This is doubly true if there is constant distraction. For many workers, handling these distractions is work in itself. When trying to maximize productivity it is important to undertake actions that support that goal, and when there are a lot of consistent distractions, it is useful to have a baseline of knowledge on how to do just that. Let’s take a look at five solid tips to help you maintain productivity.

Plan Your Route

The first tip is one that many people don’t do because they would rather leave work at work. The truth is that you can still do that and be ready for what’s coming the next day. You can take some time at the end of your workday—or, if you don’t mind spending a little mental real estate when you get home—to plan out how you’d like the next day to go. Of course, in business it is often difficult to know exactly what you are going to have to deal with on any given day, but by preparing yourself for what you have to get done the day before, you can be ready to tackle any task before distractions can even become an issue.

Put Your Phone Away

The truth is that notifications are some of the most distracting things; and, they seemingly never stop, unless you stop them. If you want to maximize your productivity, one of the best actions you can take is to turn off or silence notifications if you are able. In scheduling certain times to catch up on your correspondence, you don’t immediately react to every notification, most of which have nothing to do with your job anyhow. That push notification alerting you to what Aaron Judge said after the Yankees beat the Orioles the night before can certainly wait until after you have dug your teeth into work for a while. You’ll feel better getting things done and spend less time being sidetracked by things that aren’t going to help you to.

Don’t Overpromise

Many people work better on tighter deadlines, that is a proven fact, but what doesn’t help people is when they have too much to do that they can’t possibly get it done. Not only does the work that does get accomplished suffer, you may run into a situation where nothing gets done at all. People have a tendency to panic when there is simply too much to do, so if you can help it, don’t promise finished tasks that you know will be a stretch to get done that day.

Set Smaller Goals

To the same end, nothing is quite as satisfying for a worker than when something is produced that they can be proud of. In fact, it is roundly considered one of the main variables for a happy workplace culture. By setting smaller goals, with the larger tasks scheduled for peak productivity areas (such as first thing in the morning), workers will enjoy their time at work more and feel more accomplished.

Reward Yourself

In most modern workplaces, there have been big pushes toward employee satisfaction. This typically means that there are more fringe benefits to working for a company today. Take advantage of them. If you get to work and are productive early, take a break, get something to eat or drink, have a conversation with people that are in the same boat. If you are going to get the gratification of being a productive member of a team, you are going to have to stand back from your work a little bit and realize just how awesome you are doing.

 

Productivity is the name of the game for every business, and the more you can do to be productive, avoid distractions, and keep a positive mindset at work, the better your professional life will be. What are your thoughts? Are there any other suggestions you can make to help you avoid distractions and get more out of your professional life? Leave them in the comments section below and check back soon for other tips on how to be your most productive.

Remote Collaboration Demands Additional Security

Workforces have been increasingly distributed and many businesses aim to continue that strategy for the foreseeable future. There are a fair share of challenges that distributed employees have themselves, but for the business, it can be tough getting them to do the things that need to be done to secure the business. Here are a few actions that need to be taken if you want to make that happen.

What Changes When People Work Remotely?

One of the things that workers don’t understand is what exactly changes when they work from home is that it effectively distributes the operational network over a wide array of networks, making it difficult for security teams to provide the comprehensive services that they typically do. This requires the employee him/herself to do most of the diligent work to ensure that their endpoints don’t become problematic for their business. This gets more difficult as the number of new endpoints and those who are new to working remotely increase.

For many businesses, the procedures that dictate a work-from-home policy have been hashed out at some point over the past two years, but it is important to not be complacent when onboarding new workers or dealing with current staff that all have increasing numbers of endpoints in their home.

Do you supply the devices that your employees are working on?

Have you migrated your production to Software-as-a-Service applications?

Do you use any other cloud-hosted environments to make it easier for remote employees to access information?

If not, do you have secure access for remote employees through a VPN or some other remote access service?

Staying up to date and present on these issues will help you do more to protect your network and infrastructure from any threats that could be brought in by unwitting employees.

The Threat of Personal Devices

For many organizations, the thought of purchasing endpoints for every employee now working from home is an impossible ask. Even if it is possible, is it a prudent way to spend capital? Some would argue yes since one of the biggest cybersecurity risks to your company is a personal device that isn’t secured against today’s various threats. This isn’t because your security platforms can’t secure your network, it is because the user may not have up-to-date antivirus software, or their applications aren’t updated properly, or they don’t use password practices that help ward against outside infiltration.

Since the threat of a data breach increases substantially when there are open vulnerabilities, it is prudent to expand your security protocols to ensure that all company-owned information is being saved to company-owned storage solutions; whether that be an onsite server or company-owned cloud platforms. The less company data is found on employees personal devices, the better the chances of protecting it.

Collaboration Challenges

It was so when everyone was working side-by-side, but employees depend on collaboration apps even more today to get projects out the door and keep lines of communication open. Unfortunately, these tools were never designed with security in mind—they are designed with cooperative productivity in mind—so it opens up new problems for people working in these apps if their data isn’t secure in transit; and when it arrives on your employees’ computers.

One solid tip is to ensure that the people that are collaborating on a project or service are the only ones inside a specific group. Since anyone can initiate conversations, it is important that only the people that need to be in on the conversation, data flow, and administration of any project be in the chat. Otherwise, exposing potentially sensitive information to insecure parties is possible. This happens more than you think, especially in enterprise and medium-sized business settings where people are added and removed to mailing lists and collaboration lists all the time.

Finally, you will need to train your people. In the collaboration age, where doing more with less is a business model, you need to ensure that you invest resources in getting the people that work for you the information they need to keep your business’ IT and data secure. They don’t necessarily need to be experts in computer maintenance to do this either. Just teach them the basics—how to spot phishing and other potentially harmful messages and report them to the IT administrator; how to put together a secure password; why your business has the password and security policies it does; what resources are managed by your IT team; and what they need to do to ensure that they aren’t a weak link in your business’ cybersecurity efforts.

A lot of people like the experience of working from home, and for the business (with today’s technology) it can be of great benefit, but in order for it to be a good experience, strategies have to be altered to ensure that you aren’t constantly battling your team and scammers alike. If you would like some advice about how to navigate a remote team, the technology needed to ensure you’re ready and any other IT or workflow related questions, give Point North Networks, Inc., a call today at 651-234-0895.

component of a successful business

The Components of a Successful Business Continuity Strategy

With the future so uncertain, it’s no surprise that many organizations are turning their focus toward business continuity. There are a lot of components that go into making a successful continuity plan, and if you want to optimize your chances of survival in the face of a disaster, you need to ensure that all your bases are covered.

First, let’s take a look at what business continuity means, particularly in a post-pandemic world.

Defining Business Continuity

A lot of things can go wrong when you run a business. From natural disasters like electrical storms, fires, floods, and so on, to not-so-natural disasters like hacking attacks, ransomware, and user error, there are a lot of ways that your business’ operations could be disrupted for extended periods of time. At its core, the business continuity plan is a list of steps that must be taken following such a disaster to keep downtime and losses to an acceptable minimum. It should be noted that business continuity and disaster recovery, while two sides of the same coin, are not one and the same. Disaster recovery is simply one of the many components of a successful business continuity strategy.

The Primary Components of Your Strategy

Before identifying where you should invest your time and effort when planning for business continuity, it’s best practice to run what is called a business impact analysis, which helps to identify critical functions of your organization. Basically, you take a look at which operations would be most costly during a disaster scenario; this helps you shore them up with your business continuity strategy.

 

The various parts of your business continuity strategy will generally fall into one of these three categories, based on what the above critical functions are for your specific industry:

 

  • Digital resources: Most businesses rely on data of some form or another, whether it is stored on-premises or in the cloud. Making sure that you retain access to that data in the worst of times will be crucial. Data backup systems can aid in this process and make certain that your digital assets are not lost forever.
  • Human resources: Your business cannot function without its employees, so you need to account for them, too. Establishing a chain of command and guaranteeing that you stay in touch with any clients or vendors will be critical to ensuring business continuity.
  • Physical resources: This includes things such as your office space, physical assets like your hardware solutions, and anything else of the sort that’s needed for your employees to do their jobs in an effective way. Especially if you rely on manufacturers or a supply chain, ensuring that this is not broken is critical to success in the face of a disaster.

 

At the end of the day, your business continuity strategy should be accessible to anyone who will need it, along with a list of necessary equipment, the locations of your data backups, and contact information for additional resources as needed.

Reinforcing Business Continuity

A business continuity strategy is only effective if it can be feasibly pulled off and it meets your expectations. Imagine going through a disaster scenario only to discover that your business continuity strategy simply does not return the expected results, or perhaps it doesn’t execute well at all. This is why it is important to routinely test and adjust your strategy; you don’t want to be caught unawares. Here are some details to look for when testing your business continuity plan:

 

  • Expected downtime: Does your plan meet the expected minimum amount of downtime and the costs associated with it?
  • Ease of implementation: Is your plan able to kick off without a hitch?
  • Feedback from staff: Have you listened to key staff who might be able to identify opportunities for improvement?

Need a Hand Getting Started?

The world of business continuity can be a bit daunting, but in today’s business climate, you cannot afford to be passive with it. Point North networks, Inc., can equip you with the tools needed to ensure minimal downtime and disruption in the face of a disaster. To learn more, reach out to us at 651-234-0895.