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When disaster strikes, you need to have a plan. The human cost of recent natural disasters, from earth quakes to hurricanes, is undeniable and frequently covered. But even beyond that damage, the harm done to your business could be significant if you haven’t been proactive.

Even today, countless businesses in Texas and Florida are looking to recover from Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, along with the flooding and power outages these natural disasters brought with them. Every business in the danger zone is affected equally; however, how quickly they can recover is entirely up to their business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) strategy.

A comprehensive BCDR strategy needs to include research and analysis of both your current business situation and the types of disasters that could negatively affect it. Based on these impact and risk analyses, a plan needs to both cover the technical steps and measures to train your employees what to expect.

At the same time, only setting up a BCDR strategy in theory is not enough. You need software solutions that can help you protect your business from the negative effects that natural disasters can produce. Fortunately, Microsoft Office 365 is among the most effective options in helping you get to that point.

The Basic Recovery Functionality of Office 365

In many ways, Office 365 is a productivity suite built for disaster recovery and damage mitigation. That’s because its services live in the cloud, which means they are not dependent on a physical server that’s located on your premises to store your data and individual applications.

Many of the applications included in the suite, for instance, have functionality built in for this type of unfortunate situation. A number of external solutions, for instance, can automatically back up data and files should an outage occur. It integrates seamlessly with Azure Backup, Microsoft’s own backup solution that maximizes functionality while minimizing risk.

At the same time, some of the functionality that allows Office 365 to aid in disaster recovery are even more basic. Every business account comes with OneDrive storage, which means that your data is available remotely and from anywhere. Similarly, applications like Word and Outlook come with online versions that allow ubiquitous access regardless of physical location.

Most Office 365 business packages also include online meeting capability. Depending on your industry, you likely depend on getting various teams together to organize both daily and long-term strategic initiatives. Disasters can temporarily displace some of these team members, making this type of communication difficult. Online meeting capabilities help you keep everyone engaged and on the same page.

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These functions, in turn, can help your business maintain continuity if a disaster hits. Not having to rely on your actual office location means that you can at least keep basic services running, even as your team members work from home or other, remote locations. Continuity can easily be maintained until the restoration of your space and data through the backup mentioned above bring your business back to full productivity.

Understanding the Power of Employees in a BCDR Strategy

Without a doubt, the right software package is absolutely vital in helping your business recover from a disaster. Without it, even the most motivated employees will not know how to react, and data will be lost as you figure out how to get back to regular order. At the same time, it’s just as true that your employees need to be on board for your disaster recovery planning in order to continue maintaining at least a baseline of effectiveness.

First, each of your team members should understand their space and responsibility, should disaster strike. A clear pathway, including a written plan on how to react and what to do, helps everyone involved take steps they don’t have to think about during regular work hours.

Being prepared also means training your employees on the cloud capabilities of your Office 365 solution. A file storage system like OneDrive is at its most effective when used extensively. Its availability means little if your employees continue saving important files on their physical hard drives.

Similarly, everyone expected to work during and after a disaster needs to know exactly how to access their productivity tools even from remote locations. In other words, it makes sense to integrate comprehensive training that prepares your team for all eventualities.

This training should both be part of your regular onboarding practices, and be available for existing employees. Sometimes, even a simple refresher can make a major difference in making sure that every member of the team knows exactly what to do in case of emergency.

Should disaster strike, your employees will be the stakeholders most vital in helping your business maintain continuity and recover without major damage to revenue and reputation. Training them on the functionality of any software that is part of your BCDR plan helps to leverage their central importance for continued smooth operation.

Leveraging Office 365 to Protect Your Business From Future Disasters

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With the software package and your prepared employees, you have two major components in place to mitigate the damage should disaster strike. But in reality, you can take advantage of the functionality provided by Office 365 even before that is the case.

First, the software continues to be first in class when it comes to building strategic documents. Through Word and Excel, you can build and a comprehensive BCDR plan using collaborative functionalities that ensure a comprehensive overlook. Through PowerPoint, you can communicate that plan and train your employees to know exactly what to expect should disaster strike.

Ultimately, being proactive about unexpected events is the key to long-term business success. The status quo won’t remain such forever, and disasters that range from hurricanes and earthquakes to seemingly harmless power outages and rain storms occur in every part of the United States. Only being prepared can help you ensure that should your business be affected, your can still maintain continuity to the degree that no major revenue or productivity will be lost.

That plan, of course, might require more than just Office 365. For instance, Azure Backup helps to keep your data safe, while Azure Site Recovery is vital in making sure that your data, site, and virtual environments continue to run smoothly while you re-establish electricity and vital services.

At the same time, the importance of a cloud-based productivity suite in the event of such a natural disaster is difficult to overstate. From offering the tools to prepare for the worst to maintaining communication and productivity even after the disaster, you get the tools you need to plan and execute your business continuity and disaster recovery plan.

All of that can only be possible, of course, if you implement the software you need the right way. That means not just buying a product suite, but integrating it into your daily business practices as well as your existing software systems.

You might be able to stem this type of integration yourself. But more likely, you can benefit from a partner who has specialized not just in Microsoft Office 365, but the various Azure components that can further enhance its functionality during regular work hours and disasters alike. We’d love to be that partner for you. Contact us to learn about our services, and take the first step toward making sure that should disaster strike, you will be prepared.

About Ed

Ed is an 20 year veteran of the hosting industry and was part of the team at Verio that helped drive the early adoption of the Internet as we know it today. At Applied Innovations, Ed consults with prospective clients and partners to help them identify the best path forward with their own digital transformation as they look to embrace and adopt the cloud. Ed combines his strong technical understanding of the Internet, Security and Cloud scale with his ability to communicate and simplify complex solutions into a strategic plan that makes sense for the customer and aligns with their business strategy

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