What has Coronavirus exposed about your disaster recovery and business continuity plans?

Disaster recovery and business continuity plans should be revisited on a regular basis to ensure they remain fit for purpose. The current coronavirus pandemic has us all moving forward those DR/BC reassessment planning sessions.

There can be few businesses around the world that haven’t found their business continuity and disaster recovery plans tested beyond their wildest expectations over the last few months.

Most business continuity plans focus on the possibility of an IT systems failure, but the coronavirus pandemic has required a very different kind of virus response.

IT is the solution

IT has been the solution to the disaster in this case, not the cause.

In fact, those businesses that have invested in flexible capacity for remote working have sailed through this period with relative ease.

Cloud-based computing has really demonstrated its advantages. Those organisations that already had well-established solutions for secure cloud-based document storage and file sharing, hosted desktop applications and cloud-based communication systems have found the transition to remote working much easier.

Take the grocery retailer Tesco as an example. The doomsday planning it undertook in 2016, in which it imagined its entire Welwyn Garden City head office was shutdown, informed an urgent plan to put in place everything the retailer would need to support remote working in such an eventuality.

Dave Lewis, Tesco CEO, told the Guardian(1) the planning exercise was seen as “a bit extreme and ridiculous” at the time, but it has now played an essential role in the continued operations of the company and its ability to ensure grocery supplies for its millions of UK customers through this crisis.

It’s time to act now

If secure cloud-based document storage, applications and communication solutions weren’t already part of your business continuity plans, you will have found the transition to the “new normal” much harder than most.

For such organisations, the need to plan a migration strategy to cloud solutions couldn’t be more prescient. Boards will be amenable to necessary investment decisions. Plus, getting these systems in place before the much-predicted “second wave” of the pandemic will be essential for a better and easier experience next time around.

If you need help implementing solutions to support remote working, the Grant McGregor team is on hand to offer advice.
We can help you create the operational resilience you need during this time of gradual unlocking, so that you are well prepared for future eventualities, including the possible second wave of the virus.

How should you now adapt your BC/DR plans?

The World Economic Forum(2) polled 350 of the world’s top experts in risk assessment in a bid to identify the risks that organisations are most likely to face in the fallout from COVID-19.

The key concerns highlighted by the survey were:

• The economy

• Cybersecurity

• The environment

• Social anxiety

To mitigate this, employers will need to address the likelihood of social anxiety in their staff welfare systems and policies, their communication to staff and customers, and their operational and marketing plans.

The WEF also highlighted the need to remain focused on environmental goals and performance and the fear that coronavirus fallout might “eclipse sustainability on the public agenda”. It called for organisations to remain focused on and committed to meeting their sustainability goals.

The key concern highlighted by the experts questioned was the global economy. Two out of three said a prolonged global recession was a top concern.

A changing relationship with technology

As well as the economic risks, another key concern for the WEF experts was technology and our changing relationship with it.

Their report stated, “The relationship between societies and technology is also likely to change fundamentally. Technology has been critical to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, maintain communication with families and enable working from home. But a hasty adoption of digital solutions – from videoconferencing to tracing apps – also risks a mass increase in cybercrime, civil-liberty violations and deeper digital inequality.”

As well as addressing the immediate concerns to securely support flexible and remote working, organisations need to address these risks in their immediate business continuity planning.

We will look at some of the ways to address these risks in a future blog. Disaster recovery planning should be part of your overall IT strategy, if you're not sure whether it's part of yours or if you know you don't have an IT strategy plan, it might make sense to get your hands on our free IT Strategy Guide - you can download a copy here.

Alternatively, please get in touch with our team if you have any questions about the technology issues raised in this post. We’re always happy to offer advice and assist with IT strategy development and planning.


Sources:

1. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/may/03/how-tesco-doomsday-exercise-helped-it-cope-with-the-coronavirus

2. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/05/recovering-from-covid-19-these-are-the-risks-to-anticipate-now/

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