We have learned the risks to business continuity the hard way. As we witnessed an unprecedented event in antiquity in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic. Never in the recent history of mankind have we encountered a lock-down on such a scale disrupting daily routines across the length and breadth of the human endeavour.
The effort made by entrepreneurs to overcome this challenge is inspiring and motivating. As someone who is serving these entrepreneurs in getting organized and growing, I am sharing some of the simplest of actions that have helped companies to overcome the challenges of a pandemic and ensure business continuity at the same scale. These are steps to ensure business continuity for small businesses:
1. Buys Laptops instead of Desktop PCs.
Most important requirement for business continuity is IT Infrastructure. In spite of the availability of portable laptops that are convenient, productive and high on performance, a lot of small businesses still buy Desktop PCs for their employees. With laptops the portability is much easier and faster, it saves space and cost too (a laptop consumes about a third of the electricity as compared to Desktop PCs giving you a payback period of about 2 years on your investment). At the most, companies can buy Laptops whenever the time comes for replacing their old Desktops.
2. Mandatory storage of data on a centralized data server, preferably on cloud.
Access to data is the back-bone of business continuity. Documents stored on local drives are difficult to back-up and reduce data integrity and security. With centralized data storage with access control on a need to know basis, you can enable your team to access the data from anywhere in the world and thus ensure seamless business continuity in any situation.
3. Take regular back-up and maintain it at off-site.
The first thing you need when a disaster strikes is to restore your data from back-up to ensure business continuity. If the data is not on the cloud, it is wise to take regular back-up along with its availability on an off-site, preferably a cloud. Further, automating data back-up is a better way to ensure regular back-up, which can be achieved through a lot of free tools available.
4. Invest in an ERP System and host it on cloud.
An ERP System integrates all your departments and functions and helps seamless flow of information between them. In case of a disaster such as the one we are witnessed in the form of Covid-19, recording and retrieval of transaction data in the ERP becomes as easy as accessing your emails, provided the ERP server is hosted on a WAN or on a cloud and thus ensures business continuity.
5. Scan and upload all supporting documents in ERP.
With all supporting documents scanned and uploaded to the ERP linked with every transaction, compliance activities become simpler, audits can be conducted online, and teams can collaborate on approvals and decision making.
An important point in business continuity is to plan ahead before a disaster strikes. Here is some guide on business continuity planning. The cost of precautionary planning and action is always less than the loss caused due to a disaster.
Hope this simple list helps you prepare for the next big challenge in business continuity and disaster planning. What would you add to the above list? Comment below.
(The author is an expert in setting up Systems and Processes and deploying management tools that help companies grow to the next level.)