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Northern Ontario Forest Fires May Be Out of Control, But Your Company’s Future Can Be Secure

The news outlets have recently been awash in stories of the 110 square kilometers “Parry Sound 33” forest fire. According to the reporting, 247 firefighters have worked tirelessly to bring this massive blaze to the condition that the Ministry of Natural Resources refers to as “Held”. But this has come at no small expense. The government has burned through the 70 million annually allotted to fight forest fires this year and has earmarked another 100 million to ensure that the funds needed for this year’s massive efforts are available.

How does the Ministry of Natural Resources classify forest fires?

  1. Not Under Control
  2. Held
  3. Under Control
  4. Out

What Other Details are Important to Know About Wildfires in Ontario This Summer?

Right now, there are in excess of 120 forest fires burning in Ontario. Though many of them are small in size, some do pose a risk to local residents and businesses. Of those 120 forest fires, 16 are considered to be out of control. Fortunately, most – if not all – of those are currently in remote, unpopulated areas.

How Do Forest Fires Enter Into Your Business Continuity Equation?

Any article you read on business continuity and any IT advisor you talk to about keeping your business processes safe from disaster will tell you that fire is one of the threats businesses face. That, of course, is why you buy fire insurance for your facility.

Sure, the threat of fire isn’t always going to come from one of the 120 forest fires that are currently ravaging the wilderness of northern Ontario. The danger could just as easily come from a cigarette butt, a loose connection inside an electrical appliance, or an upset employee with a lighter.

The question really isn’t, “Where does the fire come from?” The question a business leader should be asking is:

How to Protect Business Processes from Fire?

Let’s talk about worst-case-scenario.

A fire breaks out in the middle of the night and burns your facility to the ground. No one gets hurt, but you no longer have access to customer files, your applications, your databases, and your computers – except the laptop that you take home each night.

So, what do you do?

If you’ve planned ahead, you can move forward with confidence and continue to meet deadlines and deliver a high quality of service to your clients.

This is where an IT consultant specializing in business continuity strategies steps into the picture.

What Is A Business Continuity Strategy?

A business continuity plan is a set of proactive steps taken now to enable your company to take pre-determined actions in the event of a localized disaster. These pre-determined actions will allow your employees to work, your processes to function, and your customers’ needs to be met.

What Are the Elements of a Business Continuity Strategy?

  • Threat Assessment – What could go wrong?
  • Workflow and IT Assessment – What would a disaster affect?
  • Employee Training – How should employees respond in a disaster?
  • Data and Application Backup – How to ensure you have access to vital data and applications?
  • Sourcing Hardware – Where to get hardware if yours is destroyed or inaccessible?
  • Alternate Location – Where to set up an office where employees can work?
  • Alternate Electricity and Water Supply – How to get power and water hookup at an alternate location?
  • Alternate Suppliers of Goods and Services Needed to Deliver Your Goods or Services – What if your vendors are affected by the disaster as well?
  • Care for Employees – How to ensure that employees and their families are safe, cared for, and have access to their pays?

What Should You Look for in a Business Continuity Consultant?

Because there isn’t regulation governing who can call themselves a business consultant and who cannot, it’s important that you do your homework when it comes to who you hire to help you protect your workflow against dangers such as a facility fire. Here are some important things you’ll want to check out.

  1. Do they work with a team or are they a “lone wolf”? There is nothing essentially wrong with a solo consultant. However, the consultant with a team around him/her can draw on the expertise of his/her colleagues to give you a more rounded strategy.
  2. Do they have a track record of excellence? Looking into their reviews on social media and the references that they provide will give you an idea of the level of service that they have provided to previous clients.
  3. Do they have a high level of IT expertise? Today’s businesses run on data. If someone calls themselves a business continuity consultant and does not have a deep understanding of the technology that underlies business processes, they probably aren’t the consultant for you.

Do a thorough interview – just as you would for any new hire. Be sure to take the time to interview a few candidates before settling on your final choice. The interview process itself will give you information and guidance about the selection of the right business continuity advisor for you.

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