This article appeared in the April 2020 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
What an extraordinary time we are living through, as we undergo a transition in how we live and work. We are in unchartered territory. The manufacturing sector faced challenging times over the past year even before the novel Coronavirus pandemic. Manufacturing remains a critical sector for the American economy. Business continuity planning has always been important to prepare for any type of business disruption and it is equally important now as business owners strategize and look for ways to continue operations through this period of limited resources. Manufacturers must have strategic plans in place to ensure that disruptions are avoided in the face of multiple risks. The investment in business continuity and resilience contingency planning is critical for your business to be able to respond and recover from any incident.
Technology and your IT team play a key role in both the traditional sense of business continuity and pandemic planning. Technology can help orgs better adapt to the changing situation. No one could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, more than ever, it is important that you review and evaluate your current business continuity plan to map out the possible risks and create a plan to mitigate them. Below are some considerations:
- Check the readiness and the ability to monitor continually, infrastructure and other communication tools for the higher load of employees working remotely. Turning to a trusted partner to perform a health check of your network will help.
- Check if the corporate systems are manageable remotely without the physical presence of IT employees (operations, support etc.). You may realize that you need additional assistance with the remote monitoring and management of your systems.
- Where are your weakest links? Identify vulnerabilities in the infrastructure in case of remote operations and design countermeasures to alleviate the risks.
- Have sufficient IT support for remote employees that provides near real time assistance.
- Verify the number of software licenses that ensure remote access success.
- Ensure the security and monitoring of applications for remote access and tighten controls.
- Test applications for remote use capabilities and ALWAYS keep updates and patching up to date
- Implement or enforce an Employee Security Awareness Training. There has been an increase of malware attacks since the start of the pandemic and announcement of the stimulus payments.
- Review and update your incidence response plans for data breaches or security incidences.
Employee, Business & Operational Risks
- Identify the key roles that require on-site access and create a back-up plan in case of their absence. If your IT manager is not able to perform their job, who will?
- Review, realign and test scenarios, plans, and measures to restore business operations in the event of a significant system failure.
We all need to learn from this. We can never be comfortable and must always evaluate, test and refine this type of planning. It is an on-going check of your organization’s resiliency. Manage your risks before they manage you. Plan for your recovery now. It is up to you to be a part of ensuring your organization’s continuity of business.
IT Resource is an MMA Premium Associate Member and has been an MMA member company since September 2018. Visit online: itrw.net.