If your managed service provider (MSP) business has a business continuity offering, you have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. If disaster strikes, the solutions you put in place to get businesses up and running again need to work, without fail. The worst possible scenario for your MSP business would be to discover that you’ve made business continuity planning or implementation mistakes — after disaster strikes and it’s too late to correct them.
Here are seven questions to ask yourself about your business continuity offering:
1Is my business continuity offering broad enough?
MSPs are usually pretty vigilant about making sure data is backed up, infrastructure is operational, and telephone systems are working. But is that all your clients need to restore operations? When you perform the client’s needs assessment, also consider physical security, access control, internal communications, order fulfillment and delivery, and other solutions, services, and processes that keep the business running.
2Am I complying with industry regulations and guidance?
For clients with businesses in highly regulated industries with mission-critical operations such as healthcare or finance, a business continuity offering needs to address regulatory compliance during the event. A lapse in security or privacy is not acceptable.
3Does my business continuity offering focus on people as well as technology?
Executing a business continuity plan won’t be 100-percent automated. It will require people to take action as well. Your offering should include documentation and training to help prepare your client’s employees to respond. It’s also important to ensure there is support for the business continuity solution you put in place from the top down, increasing the odds of buy-in throughout the client’s organization.
4What triggers action?
“Disaster” can be as simple as a power or internet service outage or as devastating as Hurricane Katrina. Regardless of how severe the event is, it usually causes some degree of confusion and, perhaps, panic. Does your solution automatically kick in and support the recovery process, even if key personnel are unavailable?
5Does my business continuity plan consider contingencies?
One fatal business continuity mistake is not planning for contingencies. What happens if a part of the plan can’t be executed or a solution can’t deploy? Always have a way to recover operations.
6Have I actually tested the plan to make sure it works?
It’s not enough to document a plan, deploy technology, and hope for the best. You need to prove it works. Devise a simulation that will demonstrate how the solution works and that gives key personnel at your client’s facility the chance to walk through the recovery process.
7Do I regularly meet with my clients to make necessary updates?
The plan you put in place today won’t be adequate next year if your client hires remote employees, opens a satellite location, launches a new digital channel, or guarantees a new service level to customers. Periodically review the business’ needs — as well as the threat landscape, emerging technologies, and new industry regulations and guidelines — to ensure the best possible business continuity solution for your client.
Keep Asking Questions
There are many more facets of a business continuity solution to question, such as how to minimize loss, control costs, meet requirements for insurance coverage, protect valuable assets such as vehicles, equipment, and tools, and move to alternate facilities if needed.
But one thing you should never question is the value your MSP business contributes to the solution. The biggest business continuity mistake of all may be selling a “fill-in-the-blank” solution that gives your client a false sense of comfort. Both you and your clients need to understand that technology tools can’t replace the expertise from a knowledgeable business continuity solution provider. Making that mistake may mean your client — and your business — may never recover.