Your Coronavirus Pandemic Preparedness Plan
Deploying Business Continuity to mitigate a health pandemic seems an obvious thing to say and do. Especially in the eye of the current Coronavirus storm. But how many organisations can honestly say that they have a business continuity plan that covers pandemic preparedness?
Downtime is the enemy of any business and can spell disaster if not planned for, and the current Coronavirus is no different.
At Neuways, we pride ourselves on the level of customer service that we offer. And with a 100% SLA record over the last 12 months, being able to maintain this level of service is essential. This means that we must be completely prepared for any potential event that could cause us downtime – including the coronavirus outbreak.
Pandemic preparedness is a critical necessity. With this in mind, we have used all the technology available to us to ensure provisions remain available for us in the event of an outbreak of any health disaster.
Identifying the key factors in reducing downtime
The biggest threat to our particular business is our staff being confined to quarantine for a period of time. It would only take a couple of key staff to be quarantined for the level of service we are able to provide to be severely compromised.
As a result, we looked at all the technology we have available to reduce any potential downtime and to ensure our customers remain secure, no matter the disaster.
Our disaster recovery plan includes the following features. This should help you get started.
A VPN, or virtual private network, is a secure tunnel from a device to a corporate network.
It is essential for any remote workers who need to access networks, systems and data securely. Many businesses also use them to communicate and share information securely between different site locations.
All of our team use a VPN when travelling or if we’re not on-site, and this is what helps us remain prepared in the face of the coronavirus outbreak. Neuways devices are VPN-ready, meaning that if any of our staff are quarantined in the future, or unable to reach the office for any reason, they always have secure access to the corporate network. This means that we’re able to continue servicing our customers as normal and it’s an essential aspect of our overall business continuity plan.
The reality is that more and more of us are working remotely (by choice or by circumstance) and businesses need to be flexible to account for this. If you’re considering allowing your team to work remotely for lifestyle reasons, or if you ever do work away from the main site – a VPN is a business essential. It’s also the starting point for your pandemic preparedness planning.
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calling is the most reliable way to ensure our business remains connected and contactable at a distance. VoIP enables the making of phone calls through the internet, rather than through a regular landline or a mobile network.
A VoIP system works by taking analogue voice signals transmitted by telephone, converting them into digital signals, and then sending them as data over a broadband line.
Industry-leading VoIP providers such as 3CX have desktop apps that work via the user’s computer. This means that anyone with a secure internet connection can remain contactable via the usual office telephone number – without needing to be on-site.
This means that customers’ calls can still be picked up and dealt with as efficiently as normal and significantly reduces the impact of a disaster that impacts our staff’s ability to get to the office. By using VoIP for day-to-day business, your business can ensure pandemic preparedness and therefore minimise downtime.
Ensuring all business-critical staff have the correct, secure equipment available at home means work can continue as normal for customers. With portable hardware like laptops, and secure access to your network via a broadband connection, invoices can still be paid, orders can still be processed, and customer service can be maintained.
All Neuways staff are equipped with a laptop and access to a secure VPN channel so that no matter where our staff are in the world, or their circumstances, they’re always able to access the corporate network.
We have a dedicated pandemic preparedness plan should a disaster occur, and we’re able to advise your business on how you can implement a similar plan too.
Collaborative Working Tools
It’s vital that your business has a method of sharing and collaborating on files. Collaborative working is a common feature of the modern workplace is essential, should your team end up working remotely (either by lifestyle choice or a quarantine situation).
Neuways uses a cloud-based infrastructure, which keeps us connected and able to collaborate at all times. Microsoft’s SharePoint and Teams, for example, mean that we’re still able to share files, converse via instant message, and jump onto conference calls in an instant.
However, if you don’t use a cloud-based system, collaborative working may still be available from a physical environment that utilises a server on-site via a secure network connection. Speak to us about this, and our team can advise you further.
Whichever infrastructure your business has, it’s essential that version control on documents is held to strict governance and that collaborative working is always available to at-a-distance workers.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Whilst maintaining open communications and enabling collaboration is essential, your business also needs to maintain maximum security standards when staff are off-site.
We deploy multi-factor authentication (MFA) across the entire business. This means that staff can only access corporate services by logging in ‘twice’ via different methods – one might be a password and another an ‘authentication token’ sent to a mobile phone or email address.
We use MFA in conjunction with PoLP (the Principle of Least Privilege) for extra security, and we recommend that you do too. PoLP means that staff can only access the information necessary for them to perform their role.
Essentially, PoLP adds an additional layer of security, meaning that if an entry-level member of staff was hacked, a cyber criminal would be unable to access C-level information. Properly implemented, this means that you’re able to add an extra layer of security without impacting productivity.
Key Points for your Coronavirus Pandemic Preparedness Plan
- What is the likely impact of any downtime to your business and your customers?
- What areas/department/functionality is business critical?
- What needs to be in place for these business-critical areas to operate as normal?
- What systems need to be accessible from a distance?
- How can these departments or functions continue to service your customers and avoid downtime?
- Are all your key stakeholders aware of what your business continuity plan is and what their role is?
- Will your business continuity plan still be compliant with GDPR and cyber security regulations and best practice?