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Resources: Productivity

How Natural Disasters, Breaches, and Hackers Affect Businesses Big and Small

The success of a business is often attributed to the strong decisions of its management. Yet, that is not the entire story. Often, both failure and success can be determined by how a business deals with situations out of its control. A business may fail because it wasn’t prepared for an unexpected event. Conversely, another business might be able to survive a natural disaster simply because it had a plan in place for such an event. 

All businesses, whether large or small, have lots of potential threats. If one of these threats happens, it can have devastating consequences. According to ZDNet, the top three threats to society include cyberattacks, natural disasters, and extreme weather. Interestingly, they put cyberattacks on the same level of devastation as extreme weather and natural disasters. It is unfortunately true. The consequences of natural disasters, breaches, and hackers lead to threats to businesses and data loss. Since many businesses rely on connected services and the internet, the damage from cyberattacks can be huge. It’s one of the biggest risks the world faces today.  

Types of natural disasters 

There are many types of natural disasters. All of them can affect businesses and data loss. Here are some examples of natural disasters: 

• Earthquake 

• Fire 

• Tsunami 

• Flooding or extreme precipitation 

• Hurricane, tornado, cyclone 

• Volcanoes 

• Lightning 

• Famine and drought 

• Landslide 

• Extreme temperature (heat or cold) 

• And, as we’ve seen, pandemics 

Impact of natural disasters 

Before we delve into exploring businesses and data loss from natural disasters, we can’t ignore the devastating results of these natural phenomena outside in general. According to Our World in Data, there are around 60,000 deaths from natural disasters worldwide. The deadliest of natural disasters is usually an earthquake. Typically, natural disasters affect poorer populations more heavily. This is often due to a lack of protective dwelling construction or adequate response to the event.  

How does disaster impact businesses?  

No one is ever 100% prepared for a disaster. Whether the disaster is an earthquake, tornado, or flood, an organization’s plans can be thrown into disarray. There might be a breakdown in supply chains. Maybe employees are unable to reach the premises. Or there may be damage to the facilities, equipment, or the power or internet may be down. In any disaster, including the technological kind, a business will need to find ways to deal with the situation at hand. This is why it is important for all businesses, regardless of size, to have contingency plans for disasters. It should be a priority. 

How can businesses plan for natural disasters? 

Businesses should ensure they look at their entire operation and consider how a natural disaster might disrupt every branch. It’s not just about planning emergency evacuation routes or having emergency supplies. Businesses also need to consider things like how to contact employees if connections are down.  

Depending on the business type, an organization might also need to think about how to sort out their supply chain if they are unable to access the major transit routes due to natural disasters. Having an alternative plan if facilities can’t be used is a must for survival. 

Natural disasters, data breaches, and hackers for businesses, and data loss 

While we’re talking about disasters that affect businesses, we must also consider technological disasters like hackers and data breaches. These can have just as much of an impact on businesses and data loss. In some parts of the world, these events are more likely than a natural disaster. According to Forbes, hackers and cybercrime are more devastating to business operations than a Transit Strike, a Fire, and even Floods for small and medium-sized businesses.  

Final thoughts 

While we can’t prevent any of these disasters from causing problems for businesses and data loss, there are steps that we can take to reduce their impact. The main takeaway is to plan for all possible scenarios. For the impact of events to be reduced, there must be a detailed process in place.  

One solution is an on-site BDR (Backup, Disaster, Recovery) unit. A BDR automatically backs up all your data every 15 minutes. It is connected to an auxiliary power unit so it can back up everything when the power goes out. 

There are also Cloud solutions that backup your data safely, in multiple locations. This ensures that your data is always available, no matter what happens. 

If you have any questions about Backup solutions or would like to change the ways you are currently saving your data, contact us any time. As your Managed Service Provider, the safety of your data is our concern too. 

Why is Disaster Data Recovery important for Business?

What does disaster data recovery mean? This term describes the method businesses use to regain access to stored information after a disruptive event. Any event, like a cyberattack, ransomware, a natural disaster, or even something new like the Covid-19 pandemic. When data is lost, businesses can employ a variety of methods for their disaster data recovery plan. 

How does disaster data recovery work? 

Disaster data recovery relies on the data being replicated in an off-site location that has not been affected by the outage. When a server goes down due to a cyberattack, equipment failure, or a natural disaster, businesses can recover their lost data from a backup location. When the data is backed up on the Cloud, businesses can access their data remotely so they can continue to operate. 

What are some key elements of effective disaster data recovery plans? 

We need a plan! A data recovery team will assign specialists to create, implement and manage the data recovery plan. Should a disaster occur, the data recovery team will facilitate communication with employees, customers, and vendors. 

Risk evaluations. An effective data recovery plan needs to assess all potential hazards. Depending on the type of disaster, the risk assessment will dictate what needs to happen for the business to resume operations. For example, if there were a cyberattack, what measures will the data recovery team use in response? A natural disaster will require a different response. 

Identification of critical assets. For a disaster data recovery plan to be effective, it needs to include a list of all assets. Vital resources, systems, and applications that are critical to the business are at the top of the list. Next, it’s important to have the steps that need to be implemented to recover the data. 

Backing up your data. An effective data recovery plan needs strategies and procedures for backups. You should know who will perform the backups and how often they will be done. Those responsible for data backups must also work out the business’s recovery time. Calculate the amount of time the organization can be ‘down’ after a disaster and work from there. 

Optimization and testing. The data recovery strategy should be tested and updated continually to protect the business from new threats. In this way, the business will be able to navigate challenges successfully. Planning a response to a cyberattack ahead of time will make sure your team will know what to do. 

Types of disaster data recovery 

There are a variety of options when it comes to data recovery. Perhaps the simplest method is backup. Your data is stored on or off-premises, or both for extra safety. However, relying solely on data backup gives minimal protection for businesses. If there is no backup of the IT infrastructure as well, there could be even bigger issues. For example, are your critical programs backed up as well? 

 Using DRaaS – Disaster Recovery as a Service 

DRaaS is another way in which businesses can protect their data and infrastructure in the event of a disaster. Your business’s computer processing happens on the DRaaS cloud infrastructure. This means that the business can continue to operate seamlessly, even if its servers are down. A DRaaS plan can be either a pay-per-use or a subscription model. A similar solution is Back UP as a Service. But this only backs up data and not infrastructure. 

Why is IT disaster recovery important? 

There exists no business that can ignore disaster data recovery. Having a plan in place for this means that businesses can protect themselves from closure. Most businesses can’t even afford to close for one extra day. With a strategy in place for disaster data recovery, businesses will be able to get back to normal operations much more quickly. They might even be able to continue operating as normal. Why would anyone risk their business without a Backup Disaster Recovery plan? 

As your Managed Service Provider, we can assist you with your Backup Disaster Recovery (BDR) plan. You know how valuable your data is. Don’t run the risk of losing it! Contact us today and we can go over our data recovery solutions. 

Why Vendor Management?

As you have read in our previous blog posts, the vendors we use and our relationships with them are critical to our success as a company. Vendors can drive new growth and help us achieve profit goals and revenue gains. They are central to many activities and processes in our organizations. 

Why is Vendor Management important? 

When we’re caught up in the daily grind of running a business, it’s not easy to keep track of time spent and time wasted. Some very reliable estimates tell us that Business Executives spend an average of 15 minutes a day on hold. 

I know what you’re thinking: “Fifteen minutes? Big deal!” 

Sure, that doesn’t seem like a lot of lost time for one day. Now let’s see what the real damage is. That time adds up to: 

  • 75 Minutes per week 
  • 300 Minutes per month 
  • 3,600 Minutes per year 

That’s about seven and a half days you’re losing each year. A week and a half you could be used to get projects done, launch new products, or grow your business. Now you can see the importance of efficient vendor management. 

Effective Management of Vendors 

In our previous blog posts, we’ve talked about the importance of managing vendor-business relationships effectively. It’s no longer the case that procurement is only buying services or goods. In today’s business environment, vendor partnerships need to be a key part of your business growth strategy. You need to work with your vendors and manage your relationships strategically to reap the rewards. 

Who does your Vendor Management? 

As we’ve mentioned in the last blog, vendor management isn’t widely implemented by SMBs, nor is it well understood. So, to make sure we’re all on the same page, what do we mean by vendor management? 

Vendors are the businesses and individuals that provide services and goods to your company. You might work with many different vendors and pay varying rates, have varying contacts, and varying contract terms. This can be a minefield in terms of management and so you might find that you end up overpaying for services and goods. You also might lose money on lots of hidden costs. 

Vendor management can help with this. Simply speaking, this is a process involving: the research of vendors, the seeking of quotes, the negotiation of contracts, the management of vendor relationships, the evaluation of vendor performance, and the paying of vendors. Overall, you can save yourself both money and time if you streamline these processes. 

Why is Vendor Management important? 

Managing your vendors can reduce risks. We’re talking about unforeseen costs and regulatory compliance. For example, with vendor management, you can track supplies and have the necessary data available to identify risks to mitigate them. 

Another reason why vendor management is essential is so you can measure and track their performance. That way, you can make sure that the vendor meets your business needs and requirements. 

Essentially, vendor management will help you reduce your costs. With increased visibility, you will see hidden costs and will be able to control them to save money. You might be able to negotiate a better deal or access incentives and discounts. With this in mind, you might be interested in reading our previous blog on being nickel-and-dimed with additional costs. 

As you know, loyal relationships are also good reasons to focus on vendor management. A good vendor isn’t easy to find. If you find one, you’ll need to do all that you can to build your relationship with them to build trust and loyalty. 

Protecting your brand 

Ultimately, you need to look after your business. Vendor management can help you do that. Your brand is your reputation and it holds lots of value. An unethical or unprofessional vendor might tarnish this reputation. With vendor management, you will reduce the risk of serious incidents that stem from poor vendor actions. 

We can help! 

We know this is a lot to absorb. So, if you still have questions about managing your vendors, contact us. The more things we can take off your plate, the more time you have to focus on more important stuff! And that will give you peace of mind, better Vendor relationships, and about a week and a half of your time back. 

Develop Your Vendor Relationships

For SMBs that want to take their business to the next level, you need help from your vendor partners. Unless you have this help, your business might not reach its potential. We all know vendor partnerships are key to strategic growth and longevity. Therefore, we need to become actively involved in that partnership.

Why do we need strong vendor relationships?

Having a strong partnership with your vendor is vital to continued business growth. It will mean your clients receive better service and will provide PR opportunities that raise your business profile. Without a strong relationship, your business can stall. It might lack the resources or momentum to get to the next level. Securing and continuing to build a great relationship is critical to growth. Vendor management is one of the most underappreciated, yet critical functions you are responsible for. Luckily, this is something that can be easily addressed. So, how do you get that secure relationship where you become the vendor’s favorite partner? Let’s find out!

Make the vendor the center of your growth strategy

If you give your vendor relationship the central place in your growth strategy, you’re headed in the right direction. To be successful and grow, you need your vendor to think of you as a partner and not just a customer. A key approach is building up the relationship you have with your vendor account manager. Needless to say, this a very important step, so don’t let the relationship dry up. Oftentimes SMBs will avoid emails or telephone calls from accounts managers as they see them as irritating. They’re trying to avoid sales pitches trying to get more money. But, if you take the opposite line of attack, you might see things change in your favor. For example, don’t wait for a sales call from your vendor, call them yourself and ask how you can become their favorite partner. With this approach, you show the vendor that you’re willing to make this a two-way relationship that can help them as well as you.

Take a forward approach

Being forward in this way can be quite surprising for vendors. They mainly spend their time dealing with SMBs that ask for discounts or favors. What’s more, they don’t often have them asking to help them. In this regard, it’s good to have a bit of inside knowledge of how vendor account managers are measured in terms of performance. It might come as a surprise to learn that it’s not only their sales volume that is considered. Additionally, vendor account managers are measured on the sales pipeline visibility and how many new SMB partnerships they get. Furthermore, it’s a good idea to open up communications lines with vendor account managers so they see the sales opportunities that arise. This will also mean that the vendor account managers can report sales pipelines accurately to their management.

Making direct introductions

Remember we said this is a two-way relationship – help your vendors by making introductions directly. Talk to your peers about the work you do with your vendor partners. Tell them what you enjoy about working with the vendor and how your business has grown thanks to the good relationship. These activities might seem unusual as recommendations usually go the other way. After all, not many are doing it, which is why you can become your vendor partner’s favorite client quickly.

Does this yield results?

With this sort of helpful attitude, you will notice your partnerships flourish. You build trust. This trust will result in quicker resolutions to technical and supply issues more quickly – a bonus for your clients. There really isn’t a downside to building a strong relationship with your vendor. Correspondingly, your relationship will become a real partnership with mutual commitment leading to success for both.

Final thoughts

If you want to move your business to the next level, approaching your vendor relationship in a different way can help to achieve growth. Without such a relationship, your growth could hit a wall that you might struggle to get beyond. If you have questions or need help managing your vendors, please contact us to discuss how we can help in this area.

Are You Getting Nickel-And-Dimed By Your Vendors?

Are you getting ‘nickel-and-dimed’ by your vendors? This is a great phrase that you’ll hear concerning charges for extra services within a larger service or purchase. According to Grammarist.com, the phrase ‘nickel-and-dimed’ has been around since the 19th century. Originally, it meant small amounts of money. It wasn’t until the 20th century that this phrase became a verb and an adjective for descriptive purposes. It’s a relevant phrase when it comes to the SMB-vendor relationship. Being ‘nickel-and-dimed’ means you’re spending more on extra services than you agreed to. The phrase makes you consider the impact unknown costs can have on a business and its profit margin. 

As a business owner, you need to decide what level of IT support is right for you. Small businesses frequently operate under the “break-fix” model. Break-fix is exactly what it sounds like: you run your business normally until something breaks, then you pay someone to fix it. Managed Service Providers, like us, offer a monthly service agreement to handle all of your IT support. But remember, not all managed services are created equally – don’t get nickel-and-dimed! 

Break-Fix Model 

While the break-fix model appears the simplest out of the gate, it ends up costing more than you think. The ‘breaks’ cost you more because you’re stuck with unexpected hardware and software costs, and the ‘fixes’ cost you a lot more due to downtime, outages, and lost potential revenue. At some point, you’ll get tired of your CFO running into your office with a stack of bills from all of last month’s fixes. 

Working with Vendors 

Finding a vendor that works well for your business is essential. SMBs often seek out vendors that offer full solutions. These deals are usually better for the client as well as their revenue and profitability. 

Choosing a vendor that offers a complete solution means you won’t get ‘nickel-and-dimed.’ When a vendor gives you the option to pick your solutions it often sounds too good to be true. However, this way often makes things more complicated for both you and your client. It also makes it hard to predict revenue and costs going forward. 

SMBs need efficiency 

Efficiency is paramount for SMBs and this translates to your customers too. When vendors offer features individually, the SMB purchases separate parts as individual products. With a turnkey solution, they have one single comprehensive package. Otherwise, you’re spending money on features that you thought were included. Unbundling your service might also mean ending up working with multiple vendors. What you need is a single vendor; a one-stop-shop for all of the features you need. Bear in mind that this vendor also needs to be able to adapt to you in the future too. 

What SMBs need their Vendors to know 

SMBs need a vendor that recognizes their role in supporting your business. We buy, employ and use their technology to run our businesses. SMBs should expect their vendors to listen to them and help them build their business. If you suspect you’re being nickel-and-dimed, then this isn’t a partnership worth pursuing. Don’t stick with it because it might seem like an easy option or because it’s hard to find a vendor that checks all of the boxes. You can maximize profitability and ROI with a vendor that works for you and works with you. 

Future-proofing 

When new features become available, they should not be a separate offer or a stand-alone service. SMBs need to ensure the vendor they work with can future-proof their plan to add any new features onto their existing offering. 

With a complete, fixed-price solution, vendors will earn your business each month and will then continue to improve their solutions without having to ask for extra money. A good vendor will focus on lowering the costs and not try to upsell new opportunities as they arise. 

Final thoughts – don’t be nickel-and-dimed 

You need a solution that will meet your needs straight out of the box. It should be a ready-to-go turnkey solution that will make you satisfied in the knowledge that you have all you need to be able to solve any business problem – all while paying a reasonable sum. You also need your vendor to incorporate new additions into your product as they arrive without it costing you more. It’s vital not to settle when you’re looking for a vendor. If the vendor doesn’t look out for your and your customers’ interests, can you call them a partner? 

If you are having issues with your vendors, please contact us at any time. We want to be sure you’re getting what you’re paying for.