Ensuring your business is prepared for a potential pandemic

Posted: Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Author: Darren Bartlett

Last week was one of the most challenging I can remember from an operational viewpoint. The fast-changing situation with Coronavirus caught us and many of our clients cold, as events started to escalate very quickly.

Just a week before, we were speculating as to how the virus might affect holiday plans, travel, and mostly personal “stuff”. But by last Monday, as the full magnitude of this situation began to loom large, we were left contemplating the challenges it would present to us and our clients with trade shows, supplier events and meetings already starting to be postponed.

It was at this point that we took the decision to implement a contingency plan to help protect our staff, suppliers, clients and our business from the potential effects.

As a technology business, you’d expect – quite rightly – that Utilize already had a robust business continuity plan in place. Nevertheless, the sheer speed, organisation, co-operation and understanding with which our teams moved to invoke that plan was nothing less than extraordinary.

The decision was taken on Tuesday and by Thursday evening, we had 50% of our tech team, and all of our account managers, project and consulting teams, up and running via remote access with IP phones and all necessary security in place. Communication was clear, everyone knew what was expected and how we’d be moving forwards.

From the feedback we’ve received, our clients were largely unaware we had even implemented the plan and service was maintained throughout. At the heart of all this, besides the supreme efforts from our staff, technology was of course key.

It’s sobering to think whether the same outcome could have been achieved so quickly – even 5 years ago – if we’d been presented with Coronavirus back then.

Microsoft Teams, for collaboration and conferencing did not exist (it was just Skype). Multi-factor authentication wasn’t as robust and FTTC/Fibre connectivity was far less available than it is now. Cloud computing technology was less established, and it was not as easy for businesses to share, collaborate and work remotely.

We’ve come a long way in a short space of time, and we’ve enjoyed deploying these solutions for our clients. It’s also been great to see business continuity planning taking its rightful place in recent times, high on the agenda with many organisations. This week, businesses that have embraced these working practices have been able to react in a similar way to Utilize, and it has been very rewarding to see those organisations truly benefiting from the investment they have made.

When we think about business continuity, most of us think about fire, theft and other physical disasters. I’d be confident that nobody considered a “virus” – well, not this kind of virus anyway.

It goes to show how, when considering a plan, you simply can’t foresee every eventuality. However, with the right plan, technology and commitment you can be ready for almost anything.

If you’re interested in finding out more about building a robust business continuity plan or any of the technologies mentioned above, please give us a call or speak with your account manager.

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