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Business Continuity Plan for Success – “Controlled Environment”

When drafting or reviewing a business continuity plan, it’s important to always consider your IT services partner and how they can help strengthen your plan. What does a business continuity plan and a ‘Controlled Environment’ have to do with each other? When it comes to the information technology portion of your plan, they have everything to do with each other. Ensuring that your employed team can function in the event of a small or catastrophic failure of people, processes, or systems is critical. Your server is down. Your office is unusable. You’ve been the victim of a ransomware. Rogue employee. All these things can happen. Part of an owner’s and a MSP’s job is to do everything in their power to keep these events to a minimum and have a plan in place for when they do. Conducting an analysis of these scenarios to see how your tools would function for you is critical to continued and uninterrupted operation during these sometimes-unpreventable circumstances. Working with your MSP to identify holes in your strategy, the tools you use, or at least identify ways to ensure operations can continue if a small or large disaster strikes is a major piece of the business continuity plan.

Does the CRM you use have a cloud version available that no longer requires a server? Is your internal file system available to you anywhere and everywhere without having to rely on a single source for it? What about your data? Is it backed up? Are you following regulatory requirements? If you had a team member that clicked on something they shouldn’t have and a ransomware or damaging malware gets into your systems, do you have a plan to address this?

Proper cyber security, cloud-based tools, reliable 3rd party cloud backups, laptops instead of desktops. All examples of ways that might be a more effective way for you to operate your business. These examples could also work for the times your office is closed or internet is down for a reason out of your control. A weather event? No problem. Accidental data loss? No big deal.

How does a controlled environment fit into all this and what is it? A controlled environment is a series of IT systems and policies that a business and your MSP partner has complete control over. Need to offboard or onboard an employee? With a controlled environment, you’ll know exactly what that means to you and your team. It won’t affect anyone’s ability to do their job. A list of all business assets such as laptops, desktops, network equipment, software licenses. Policies in place on how the management of all these assets is handled as well as how to handle common and uncommon IT events, is also crucial. These plans can get all the way down to software control and content filtering and more.

Knowing where you stand with your physical assets, how to control them, how to manage and control all the software and the access to that software, and that the business can continue to operate even in the event of a failure is what having a controlled environment is all about. This organized controlled environment is a huge component of any business’ continuity plan.

Once this plan is established, it’s important to review it on at least an annual basis to ensure you are still on track or if any tweaks need to be made. An acquisition or major initiative could change this plan. It’s important to partner with your MSP to ensure you are on track no matter how your business moves forward. If you aren’t confident that you have these systems and policies in place, talk to your MSP partner right away. A business continuity plan without considering IT is an incomplete plan. Other than your people, it should be the most important consideration for business continuity. You cannot have a complete IT plan without considering having a controlled environment or an environment that is moving towards complete control. Consider it another key to your short-term and long-term success in this ever-changing world.

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