As downtime and other issues are something no business can avoid, having a decent contingency built into your business processes is essential to make sure that important information is kept safe in the event of business cessation. While some may argue that a Business Continuity Program (BCP) is a wasted use of resources, this is not actually the case at all. With no strict ROI calculation it is true that BCP may not offer the justification to consider this investment, however any company who has experienced the huge impact of downtime or other issues that shut operations down will understand the real value and cost-effectiveness in having a BCP.
The Real Value of a BCP
A look into recent history shows that ‘unthinkable’ events are not only a reality, but also should serve to remind companies just how important a BCP can be in the event of an emergency. Studies show that almost 50% of businesses are not able to reopen in the event of a fire or other disaster, and nearly a third of the ones who do manage to open do not last past the three year mark. On a smaller scale, other events that cause disruptions can be at the very least hugely distracting – leading to decreased productivity and even lost information. All of these annoyances result in financial losses, with resources not used efficiently, more overtime, increased defects, higher costs for problem solving and more stress in general.
Essentially, a BCP acts as a way to identify key risk areas, creating back up plans, allocating responsibilities, communicating advantages to the company before following this up with consistent audits and even live testing. As any other business area, the BCP needs commitment from management as well as employees to ensure that the system is effectively used throughout the company.
The Role of Hosted Software in a BCP
Hosted software is basically software that is located in a different location, and hosted by a third party on behalf of the company. This third party is also the developer of these products, and therefore additionally manages all maintenance and management of the hardware and software, renting out the products to different companies over a specific period. As hosting is always remote from the offices of the clients that it provides software solutions to, and as clients access the products over an Internet connection, this ensures that all information is kept well protected but also easily accessible from any computer and any location.
As an example, consider the following scenario:
Company A runs a company that includes its offices, factory and distribution chain all under one premises. A fire in the factory one day causes the sprinkler system to go off across the entire premises, which puts out the fire quickly before it spreads. While the fire damage was mostly in the factory and the things were quickly put back on track, the water damage from the sprinklers is widespread across the entire premises, including the office. Hardware, electronic equipment and storage disks are damaged, and information on these has been corrupted. Company A uses a hosted software to run its systems however, and all its data is kept at the hosting location. All that is needed is a new computer, printer and an Internet connection, and Company A can access all of its information quickly and easily once again to access orders, print new production procedures and continue with customer orders as soon as the fire damage has been addressed, without losing too much time.
Company A was able to reduce downtime because of the BCP that was in place, which allowed the company to access major information – something that could not have happened without hosted software. A bit of planning and thinking ahead saved this company an enormous amount both from a downtime point of view and a cost point of view. The hosted software solution that was held at a safe, remote location, along with a clear back-up solution with Internet access played a major role in ensuring that Company A had an effective business continuity contingency plan.
Simply put, hosted solutions offer a cost-effective alternative to traditional client server solutions, and also give peace of mind when protecting your data from the unthinkable.