How do virtual companies do business continuity planning and what should they be particularly concerned about?
Virtual companies with people working from home in multiple locations have a natural resiliency.
However, they need to really focus on having strong infrastructure and crisis communications.
Feedback from BCP Builder Community on LinkedIn:
- Virtual companies can become quite complacent very quickly when it comes to resilience.
- There are a few vulnerability points that can impact on their performance.
1. Their staff are still a critical resource and, if working isolated, may be headhunted, leave, become disengaged or start their own business.
2. Strong reliance on networks and data; very vulnerable to cyber attack and/ or server malfunction.
3. Reliance on physical IT frameworks that can fail.
4. Version controls of documents and data can cause accuracy issues.
5. Limited stakeholder engagement as the organization relies on data and virtual contact.
Transfer of Knowledge
- If you are looking to expand teams then training, knowledge transfer etc. can be a problem with a dispersed workforce. It is essential to have appropriate tools in this case. It may be worthwhile having an office space available for team meetings and discussions.
- From a Business Continuity perspective, having critical backup resources is a must.
- IT resilience – if they are Cloud based, that comes naturally, but if they still operate in a legacy hosted model it is not a given. It’s all well and good having a distributed workforce, but if your file and email servers are at the epicenter of a disaster then the after-shocks are pretty significant.
- Clients should test their IT regularly and ensure recovery plans are in place if the cloud provider stops providing the service, either from cyber attack, hardware/middle-ware failure and going bust.
- If the employees are distributed, their communication path to their Cloud storage also becomes a concern, especially if the tasks are time critical. Redundant paths to the hosted data center/ cloud need to be considered. Depending on the geographical distances this could be mitigated (note – there are many small ISP’s using the same upstream provider).
- Creating IT “pods” of information storage and communications interconnected with the main company cloud may be a solution of resiliency in case of regional failure. Also, companies need to routinely practice roll up and push down to ensure information sharing is fluid and protected against cyber threats.
- These organizations are totally reliant on IT. This should be the most critical part of their infrastructure. In addition, individual risk assessments should be made of each home workers environment to identify risks and good practice.
- Although the company may be dispersed across multiple locations their communication infrastructure and processes still connect them. This link makes them as vulnerable as working in the same building. The business continuity strategy needs to consider the availability of the communication channels, integrity of data in transit and adherence to shared documented processes.
- I live across the street from a software developer that works for a major application house. All of their workforce [with a very minor exception] are remote, home or anywhere based. He has company issued capability including internet capacity. They have an intranet as well as internet. Cloud based storage with VPN access. He designs financial reporting and statistical systems. He understood he would be working by himself when he took the job.
- Another is a US Patent Examiner, which is for the most part a single person job. Work is assigned and there is a highly documented work flow process. His home office is the same as if he was in the main office from a capability standpoint.
- There is a financial advisor corporation that has many, many remote offices. The corporation is governed and monitored by a number of US agencies. All work must be the same. There are clients to meet with and a local presence is preferable. The corporation manages everything in the office from furniture to toner, all purchases, contracts, etc. are managed centrally. Everything resides on the cloud. They have a high level of automation. If an office becomes unavailable, there are processes in place to move to other offices or space in a few hours.
- Working from home or remotely is similar to having multiple offices with many employees. It is a question of scale. Then we have freelancers who come onto a project for a period of time. Any company utilizing freelancers needs to have processes in place before the engagement.
If you want to increase your Organizational Resilience, start with preparing a Business Continuity Plan and check out BCP Builder’s Business Continuity Planning Templates.