WAYNE, Pa., July 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- In today's business environment where many customers expect 24/7 availability to corporate information assets, business continuity planning has become one of the pillars of maintaining a solid brand reputation. How an organization plans for and responds to business disruptions can have a major impact on its perceived reliability among customers and on the company's bottom line.
According to the April 2011 SunGard Availability Services Business Continuity Software International User Group Forum Survey conducted by SunGard Availability Services, 74 percent of respondents selected "protection of reputation and brand" as a reason for having a business continuity plan. Protection of brand out-paced other top reasons for business continuity planning including "minimizing economic impact to an organization" and "complying with regulations, laws and standards."
"A strong corporate brand is vital to the operational and financial success of a business, especially in today's connected world," said William Hughes, director, Consulting Services Enterprise Resiliency practice, at SunGard Availability Services. "With news being broadcast almost instantaneously through formal and informal channels, and social media enabling people to share views in real-time, having a viable business continuity plan in place has become a strategic step in safeguarding a company's brand and reputation."
SunGard Availability Services has outlined five steps that organizations can take to bolster business continuity plans to help protect their brands.
Prepare and protect your people. The physical safety and psychological well-being of employees needs to be the first priority in an organization's business continuity planning. This preparedness includes clearly defining what precautions a business should take to move personnel out of harm's way, which situations would signify the need to close down, and what people should do – and where they should go – if the business is disrupted. If your employees are not taken care of, then they cannot recover and protect customer data, leaving your company at risk for elongated recovery times, customer backlash, and more susceptible to things like lost data or even security breaches.
Include customer communications in your planning efforts. Organizations cannot assume that customers will empathize with the situation at hand when experiencing a disruption. If your organization engages customers in transactional exchanges, review your customer relationship management plan. Examine how your company will communicate readiness, address potential concerns and constraints that could affect the customer relationship, and prepare for possible impacts of downtime or lost customer transactions. For example, your plan should address how your organization will respond to missing customer orders, and how you will communicate and work with customers to identify and address these issues.
Evaluate your business ecosystem. Ask your vendors and channel partners about their business continuity capabilities to learn their strengths and vulnerabilities. Your preparedness and brand reputation depends on their preparedness. Understand whether the people and services you rely on will be there when you need them. Look at the geographic diversity of your service and product providers to see if they have resources available outside a potentially impacted area and diversify through them – or on your own if you have to.
Prepare for a wide range of scenarios. While natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, gain large media attention, industry research shows power failures, IT hardware, software and network outages and human error are much more likely to cause business disruption. The lesson for organizations is that they need to be prepared for a wide range of business disruptions and understand that those disruptions may begin harmlessly, take time to develop, involve only part of the company's assets and not appear as obvious as a more commonly thought of "disaster." More often than not, it will be a "quiet catastrophe" related to hardware or process failure that, over time, generates the most significant threat to your business' brand.
Testing makes perfect. Many companies think they have an effective business continuity plan, but unless it is tested, it is only theory and not reality. It is essential for your company to develop and exercise your capabilities so that the first time the plan is executed and the team tested is not during an emergency. Consistently testing your plan makes an organization less likely to experience downtime and more capable of responding to an incident – ultimately making your organization more reliable to customers, and strengthening your company's reputation.
The 2011 SunGard Availability Services Business Continuity Software International User Group Forum Survey was conducted in-person from April 17-19 in San Diego, CA. The respondents in the survey were all SunGard Availability Services software users.
SunGard's Continuity Management Solution (CMS) provides a common enterprise platform to help organizations ensure data consistency across multiple planning, testing and execution-management processes, as well as standardized reporting for seamless automation and management of business continuity processes. SunGard's Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Consulting team as well as the Operations staff provide business continuity planning strategies and support the implementation and ongoing management of business continuity solutions that work hand-in-hand with the CMS platform.
About SunGard Availability Services
SunGard Availability Services provides disaster recovery services, managed IT services, information availability consulting services and business continuity management software to over 9,000 customers globally. With approximately five million square feet of data center and operations space, SunGard Availability Services helps customers improve the resilience of their mission critical systems by designing, implementing and managing cost-effective solutions using people, process and technology to address enterprise IT availability needs. Through direct sales and channel partners, we help organizations ensure their people and customers have uninterrupted access to the information systems they need in order to do business. To learn more, visit www.sungardas.com or call 1-800-468-7483. Connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
SunGard is one of the world's leading software and technology services companies. SunGard has more than 20,000 employees and serves more than 25,000 customers in 70 countries. SunGard provides software and processing solutions for financial services, higher education and the public sector. SunGard also provides disaster recovery services, managed IT services, information availability consulting services and business continuity management software. With annual revenue of about $5 billion, SunGard is ranked 434 on the Fortune 500 and is the largest privately held business software and IT services company. Look for us wherever the mission is critical. For more information, visit www.sungard.com.
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