Could your business survive a day without IT?

Jenny Carpenter

Most of us take reliable technology for granted – just like modern conveniences such as electricity and running water. But what if you had no access to IT for a whole day…how would that affect your business?

What do you do when there is a power-cut? Often, you’ll walk into the kitchen and immediately try to switch the light on, or power up the kettle to make a hot drink. Even though you know there’s a power outage, you’re so used to having on-demand access to certain things that it takes a second to realize the true implications.

The same thing applies when IT systems go down. Initially, it’s all a bit different and perhaps even a little exciting. Staff may even relish the prospect of a slightly longer lunch-break, or a guilt-free gossip around the water-cooler. However, it doesn’t take long before reality sets in.

Think about your daily tasks and what you could still accomplish without access to IT systems…

  1. End users quickly tire of chatting and start to realize they’re getting behind on work, and that at some point they will have to catch up.
  2. Customers call, and become fractious about the fact you cannot readily access their information.
  3. The accounts department let you know that they can’t process the payroll payments until the system comes back up. If things aren’t fixed quickly, nobody’s going to get paid before the weekend.
  4. The Sales Director has a proposal or tender document that needs to go out by close of business. Some vital information required to complete it is on the company network, which can’t be accessed.

The unfortunate irony is that people don’t tend to realize how dependent they are on IT until it’s out of action. Generally speaking, companies that take business continuity really seriously are those that have experienced an outage and learned from it.

Hopefully, it’s not reached that point for you. Regardless of whether it has, there are some things you can do to reduce the risk of it happening, and to decrease the business impact if it ever does. Here are some suggestions:

  • Take the threat of a day (or more) of system downtime seriously, and involve your whole team in planning for it. Be honest about the business impact that downtime can have and invest in resilience features and disaster recovery planning.
  • Ensure that staff are fully informed as to the common causes of downtime, such as malware infections. Train employees to be suspicious of unsolicited emails and phishing websites.
  • Put systems in place to minimize risks. Consider cloud-hosted, multi-layered security to protect your infrastructure.
  • Perform real-life “disaster” simulations to identify shortcomings in system recovery plans.
  • Put processes in place to keep customers happy (or at least pacified) during unexpected system outages.

The chances are that your company could survive a single day without IT, but you can be sure that subsequent down days would prove fraught and stressful. You’d probably have some making up to do to mend your customer relationships. So, make the plans now, before a real life event proves how important it is!