Friday, May 29, 2009

The Importance of Having a Business Continuity Plan

What would happen if your data was lost or you lost internet for the day? If a hurricane hit and your information was gone, would you be able to continue performing your everyday business tasks? If not, how long would it take to recover your business? These questions are overwhelming, but important to ask yourself when it comes to threats to your business.

Whether you are the CEO or the CIO of your company, it is important to acknowledge the value of having an established business continuity plan. It is difficult to believe that something drastic enough to disrupt your everyday business activities could take place, but it is often when we assume things could never happen to us that they do.

Many U.S. companies encounter computer system failures annually. A lot of these failures last for over a day, which can significantly affect profit and customer relationship management (CRM). Also, it has been found that many businesses do not have a plan in place in case a disaster was to occur. That being said, there could be an even greater impact if disaster struck because many businesses depend on each other to operate efficiently and profitably. The potential domino effect that businesses would experience in the worst case scenario would be devastating.

On a lighter note, let’s just say that your email server was down for a day for whatever the reason may be. You might say, “But we could use the phone.” That is true, but consider how heavily businesses depend on databases, and rightfully so. Using them is easier and faster than going through a Rolodex of contacts, and they organize every piece of information regarding a single contact. You are going to want to make sure you have a plan in place and also seek help from IT professionals or an IT team in order to lessen the impact of disruption.

Assessing how vulnerable you are to being impacted by disaster or data loss is an important step in planning for business continuity. Here are a couple of questions that may make you think about how important a continuity plan is to your specific business:

-What activities are most important to your business?
-Can you survive without them or do you have an alternative?
-How much of your business’ productivity depends on computers/databases/internet?

Chances are that you feel concerned if you have not already established a plan, which isn’t surprising since most of America’s businesses rely on computers. Here are some steps you can take to make sure you are prepared in the case of disruption:

-Identify important roles in your company (who plays a crucial role in everyday business? If a certain person in your company was to no longer be there, would you have a backup?) Include solutions in your plan.

-Identify places for equipment rental and back-up supplies

-Implement off-site data backup or seek IT support/IT consulting

-Map out an alternate location (where would you move offices to temporarily if needed?)

-Have this plan set in stone

Additionally, you need to be sure every employee is informed of the plan, so it would be a good idea to conduct information sessions or send out newsletters regarding the business continuity plan.

Written by Melissa Cocks

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

NSK Offers MPICA for Compliance with MA Law

MPICA (Massachusetts Personal Information Compliance Assessment) is an IT support service that NSK Inc is offering to businesses that need to comply with the Massachusetts General Law Chapter 93H and its new regulations 201 CMR 17.00. The law requires that any companies who own, license, store, and/or maintain personal information about a Massachusetts resident make adjustments to further protect personal information. Both electronic and paper records will need to comply with the new law. The regulations go into effect on January 1, 2010. The law was originally supposed to go into effect on January 1, 2009, but then was pushed to May 1 and then January 1, 2010 due to the state of the economy, time restraints, and confusion about the law.

MPICA offers IT help to companies who are having difficulty making changes in their systems to adjust to this law. Identity theft and fraud are the major concerns at the core of the implementation of the 201 CMR 17.00, so it is important that the necessary changes are made within business IT systems. If a Massachusetts resident's information is leaked or captured, there could be serious consequences for the business that allowed the breach and for the individual whose information was leaked. Therefore, making changes to keep residents' information secure will be required to avoiding security breach and fines.

Companies will need a written security plan to safeguard their contacts' and/or employees personal information. It will need to be illustrative of policies that demonstrate technical, physical, and administrative protection for residents’ information. The plan needs to be written to meet industry standards. Companies will have to designate employees to oversee and manage security procedures in the workplace, as well as continuously monitor and address security hazards. Policies addressing employee access to and transportation of personal information will need to be developed, as well as disciplinary measures for employees who do not conform to the new regulations. Limiting the collection of data to the minimum that is needed for the purpose it will be used for is also part of the new regulations.

Since revisiting workplace data security procedures requires in-depth changes, this is a lengthy process. It takes months for businesses to make the necessary changes required by this law, so businesses might consider starting early at contacting an IT consulting firm and seeking its IT support.

Written by Melissa Cocks

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Need for IT Support

by Art Gib

When you use anything electronic, whether it's one computer or a cell phone at home, or whether you are a businessman with a whole network of computers, chances are at one point or another you will need technical support. It doesn't matter if you live in Boston or LA, the need for technical (IT) support will probably come up.

Basically, IT support is available to people and companies who need help solving a technical problem with their electronic device. The companies who offer IT support don't usually offer training, rather they work with the customer or client until the problem has been solved. The IT guy is well trained to handle your electronic malfunctions, which is a good thing because most of us have very limited knowledge of the inner working of electronics. We rely on them, but we don't fully understand them; the IT guy does.

Now, for the stay at home mom in Boston or California, or wherever, it might be necessary to call technical support a couple of times a year, but the businessman may need the help much more frequently. Most companies that offer technological products have a support system that comes with it. For example, if you go through Qwest for the internet, you can call Qwest support to get the answers to your problems. But for a businessman, calling Qwest isn't the solution. You need an IT support team because having the right amount of help in your IT department can save you time and money. It also frees up the time for your IT employees to work on ways to help your business.

A good IT support company in Boston will help you reduce the management costs of your IT department, will be able to help you use technology more efficiently, help you with data storage and recovery, and, of course, support the IT managers of your company. IT support doesn't only mean solving a problem on your computer. It also means freeing up the time of your regular employees by doing necessary infrastructure changes without them. For example, software needs to be updated frequently, and the updates can take time. A good IT support company will do the updates and installations of the software for you.

Don't sell yourself short by not having a good IT support center. Your employees can work more efficiently, making better use of their time, if they have a decent support network behind them. Your business will feel the benefits of a good network.

NSK Inc. offers IT support in Boston and San Francisco.

Art Gib is a freelance writer.