Sme Business Continuity

By: Mike Abel

Small and medium-sized enterprises tend to get ignored when talking about business continuity planning. The planning is more prosaic. The challenges are fewer. And most importantly, their budgets are smaller.

But of course, the same principles that apply to large businesses also apply to the small ones. We at Oppello are an IT consultancy that specialises in looking after small to medium sized businesses. And business continuity planning is a must for companies of all sizes. A small firm that loses all its data will go out of business, just as surely as a larger one.

If anything smaller firms become more vulnerable to crises because larger companies are geographically more diverse – knocking out your operations in say Edinburgh is not as business critical when your offices in London can take some of the overload.

A few years ago business continuity planning was only regularly undertaken by the larger corporations, nowadays SMEs are more than likely to make some kind of preparation. Part of the problem, however, is that smaller companies are typically less aware of the correct procedures than larger firms where systems have been developed.

Initial IT audit

Frequently we’ll find small companies that have thought about continuity issues but not implemented them fully, On our initial audit we’ll find, for example, that IT back-ups have indeed been taken. But the tapes are sitting next to the computer and the coffee cups! It’s frightening too the number of times you find that checking the tapes has not gone on – the procedures have never been tested.

Increasing sophistication

But with the growing awareness of the need for business continuity, smaller firms are starting to get more sophisticated and this kind of situation should soon start to become less and less frequent. Also one encouraging trend for smaller firms looking for business continuity support is that there are a greater number of support firms operating in this space and charging a price that is affordable. And size can sometimes be an advantage too. Large companies are often entrenched in old technologies and methodologies. One advantage that smaller companies have over larger companies is that they are able to respond and embrace new technologies more quickly Depending on the size of a business, support for business continuity planning can be brought in-house. Typically, a company with around 30 computers and a couple of servers could keep an IT specialist – as a full member of staff – busy for most of a week.

Other potential weaknesses

However, that can cause problems too. IT specialists are valuable commodities and tend to move around considerably. Also there remains the constant questions over how the company ensures that the business runs as normal when the IT expert is on holiday or sick.

The great thing about business continuity is that – irrespective of the size of your business – you can go a long way to devising a plan simply by getting your senior staff to think through the issues.

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