Planning and preparedness are the best defenses against emergency situations that can impact critical business operations and the delivery of government services.
September is National Preparedness Month and serves as a timely reminder for chief information officers and business continuity professionals to review the plans that will help their organizations continue to operate during and after extreme weather and other unforeseen events.
"The time to plan for emergencies that can impact operations and the ability to provide services to customers and key stakeholders is before a business-impacting event occurs," said Chris Kimm, vice president - global customer service assurance, Verizon Enterprise Solutions. "Having a detailed plan in place that outlines the actions needed to maintain business operations is critical, especially in today's highly dynamic and interconnected competitive global marketplace. Failure to have a plan can result in lost revenue, lower productivity, and damage to brand reputation and customer satisfaction."
Verizon offers businesses and government agencies the following recommendations and best practices to help prepare and cope with events that can impact normal operations.
Plan in advance. Developing a plan in the midst of a crisis is a recipe for disaster. Anticipate potential problems and have a well-documented, comprehensive plan to address both disaster recovery and continuity of essential business processes.
Assess your risk. Organizations should assess both networks and business models to determine risks, as well as operational and financial exposures. Base decisions on the principles of risk management, and identify critical business functions and processes in order to deploy assets to help maintain seamless operations.
Create a strong partner ecosystem. Select business partners whose resources are readily available for rapid deployment to assist in recovery and continuity efforts.
Protect critical networks, systems and applications. Inventory critical equipment and applications, and assess any vulnerability. Determine the best location for these services to help reduce catastrophic outages and provide rapid recovery response time. Alternatives range from physical relocation of equipment to outsourcing.
Deploy networks engineered to meet changing business requirements. Develop and implement cost-effective networks that meet bandwidth requirements for continuous operations while delivering a return on investment.
Use cloud- and network-based services for redundancy to support critical operations. A combination of diverse network routing and the ability to duplicate mission-critical applications is essential to communications and the continuity of critical business operations. Cloud- and network-based services enable access to important information, the rapid restoration of service and the ability to quickly switch services to alternative sites.
Develop telecommuting programs. Applications such as remote access and conferencing help improve recovery time and maintain employees' connectedness and productivity in extreme circumstances.
Train and educate your employees. An organization is only as good as its people. Design an effective distributed-work business model, and ensure employees have the training and tools to do their jobs - in the office, on the road or at home. Perform skills-set assessments to understand staffing requirements necessary to support continuous operations.
Utilize social media. Social media outlets play an important role in keeping stakeholders, including customers and employees, connected and informed during an emergency, especially when traditional methods of communications may be unavailable.
Review, test and refresh - continually. Once a plan has been developed, it must be reviewed, tested and refreshed. A business continuity plan is a living document and a critical business asset. Plans should be routinely updated and tested throughout the year.
Verizon Enterprise Solutions creates global connections that generate growth, drive business innovation and move society forward. With industry-specific solutions and a full range of global wholesale offerings provided over the company's secure mobility, cloud, strategic networking and advanced communications platforms, Verizon Enterprise Solutions helps open new opportunities around the world for innovation, investment and business transformation. Visit verizon.com/enterprise to learn more.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, with more than 94 million retail customers nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500. A Dow 30 company with $111 billion in 2011 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 188,000. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.