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Top 5 Considerations for Business Continuity in the Channel Islands

December 1, 2016

A good Business Continuity Plan (BCP) requires a lot of careful planning. It’s about factoring in all the potential risks specific to your business, looking at all the available options and assessing your needs to design a plan that meets your requirements.

Clients often ask me “what is the best Business Continuity solution?” but what we really need to consider is: “what is the best BC solution for my business?”

There are a lot of good reasons why your business should have Business Continuity (BC) in place. Disruption in any way, shape or form has serious consequences, with businesses reporting up to 68% loss of productivity and 37% loss of revenue. Being out of action can even affect the economy as a whole, with 34% of economies reporting losses of at least €1m due to businesses being taken offline.

That said, while all BC plans need to be bespoke for the individual business, here are my top five considerations for organisations here in the Channel Islands…

1. Power Cut or Telecommunications Outage

An unfortunate example of this happened a few nights ago, three JT fibre-optic cables to the UK were cut by a ship dragging its anchor along the seabed. This resulted in all JT communications to and from Jersey being directed through a single submarine cable link with France. Organisations are increasingly reliant on technology and access to the internet meaning that this unexpected turn of events, potentially resulting in service degradation, is exactly why we as an island need to have BC plans in place.

A recent power outage in Alderney highlights how vulnerable we are in the Channels Islands. Cuts affected all communications, leaving the whole Island without internet or mobile phone signal for 13-hours. This paralysed businesses, causing them to lose out on all potential business until the issue was resolved.

The JEC’s additional electricity cable feed from France, which is due to reduce risk for Jersey, was connected in August 2016 and will be commissioned in January 2017. This is a key example of forward BC planning for the island’s future.

2. Island Weather

Unfortunately, while we’re considered the sunniest place in the British Isles, as Islands Jersey and Guernsey are occasionally hit by some truly ferocious weather! Just this year severe storms pummelled the Bailiwick. While this can pose a risk for business no matter where you’re located, organisations close to the sea are particularly exposed. This is something the States of Jersey’s Planning and Building Services discovered in March. Strong winds blew away parts of the building’s roof, exposing the offices to the elements. Although this caused disruption that day, luckily in this case they did have a BCP in place and could relocate temporarily while the building was repaired.

Whilst adverse weather conditions pose obvious risks to your infrastructure and resources, from a non-technical perspective they could also potentially compromise your office for days, even weeks! This is something that happened to one of our clients meaning they had to invoke their BCP, which included relocating to our client BC suites at Rue des Pres.

3. Embracing the Cloud

Nearly every business is now using the cloud in some way, but BC gives you another reason to embrace it. The cloud allows you to access your office resources and documents remotely from any device. This offers a high level of flexibility and could allow employees to continue working from home or from another location with access to the internet during a crisis. In terms of cost, this is the cheapest BC solution and doesn’t require any tech infrastructure, just a device to access the service. This makes it a great option for smaller businesses, especially those that encourage independent working.

However, cloud working also has BC implications, as it does not necessarily mitigate all risks. Working from home splits up the workforce, meaning no face-to-face communication, which can have an effect on staff morale and productivity if your business is based around collaborative working. Cloud businesses would not be protected if there was an island-wide telecommunications outage or power cut, as the internet is needed to access the cloud. This could potentially put a business out of action if working from home, due to a lack of resilience or a back-up generator, despite having a BCP in place.

4. Back Up Offices

As I referenced earlier, having back up offices as BC can be a great solution to mitigate risk. This type of solution works well for larger businesses, service desks and any businesses that require a high level of collaboration between employees. C5 currently has over 600 seats for business continuity and our suites range from rooms with 100 seats to much smaller rooms with just six seats. These act as fully-functioning, back up offices, containing our clients’ technology resources, chairs, desks, equipment and staff parking, all of which are available 24/7 in case of an emergency. Some of our clients also make use of their suites for training purposes too, so the extra space can be useful even when they’re not being used for BC.

Seats in a recovery centre offered by a third party can be purchased either on a shared or dedicated basis. Syndicated seats are shared with other clients, reducing the cost considerably but are offered on a first-come-first-served basis in the event of both companies experiencing a disaster at the same time, in the same geographic location.

5. Expert Support

Many local businesses rely heavily on their IT resources and while this can be an important aspect of your individual plan, BC goes beyond technology. It’s about having a strategy in place in order to continue without disruption, ensuring your employees are on the same page and know what to do if the plan is invoked. It’s important to consider all your businesses requirements. While you may think you could do this all yourself, what you think you need may not accurately reflect what you actually need, and this could result in a BC plan that doesn’t deliver on all your requirements. That is why it is very important to have an independent assessment of that plan to ensure it is robust.

Reviewing or Creating your BCP

This is where people like me come in! As a BC Consultant, I can provide an independent perspective, assessing all of your options to offer advice on what businesses need in terms of their BC.

I collaborate with clients, looking at all aspects of the business to establish what’s needed in terms of resources, space and any other considerations, and then develop a plan based around individual requirements.

Once we pick a solution, I work closely with staff to ensure they’re well informed about their BC, and we continually test and adapt the plan to ensure we have found the perfect solution to offer protection going forward.

For those considering implementing a BC plan, think of it like insurance; no one wants to have to use it, but when you finally have your plan in place you can rest assured that you’re always protected in times of crisis!

If you don’t have a plan in place to protect your business already, I hope these points have provided invaluable information and that you will consider implementing BC in the future. You can find out more about our BC services  or get in touch if you would like some BC advice and consultation.