Alright, let’s cut to the chase, we all know what a hurricane is and its potential for destruction. Around this time of year statistics are thrown out from news outlets and social media about damage from previous years and what’s on the horizon in the coming months. Even the Department of Homeland Security sponsors a site for disaster planning to urge businesses to be prepared ahead of time. At this point, if you do not consider storms a threat throwing more statistics (like the one to your right) at you isn’t going to change your mind.
The issue is that scare tactics rarely result in the desired outcome and that is why there are still so many businesses out there without disaster recovery or business continuity plans in place. Rather than attempting to scare you into having a plan we are going to explore the added benefits to your business that come from having disaster planning in place.
Disaster Recovery Applies to more than Hurricanes
Yes, if you are a Florida resident you probably don’t think EARTHQUAKE when you hear the word disaster, but, believe it or not, there are more threats to your business than just high winds and rain. In his yearly letter, the man himself, Warren Buffett, warned companies about “The Big One.” A natural or man-made megacatastrophe that would make the damage done by Katrina look like child’s play.
Now this “megacatastrophe” likely won’t happen this year and maybe will not happen in the next ten, but there are plenty of other threats you want to avoid in the meantime. Chances are a storm won’t make landfall in your area this hurricane season but cyberattacks and ransomware are now a dime a dozen and SMB companies are their #1 target.
Guess what? The same offsite backups that ensure your data is safe during a storm also help you thwart ransomware. A hacker breached your system and locked you out? No worries, just wipe your network and restore from your backups and get back to work, simple as that. It is much like buying a security camera for your house. You bought it in case the worst happens, like a burglar breaking in, but in the meantime, you caught your neighbor who hasn’t been picking up after their dog and found out that your teenager has been sneaking out at night!
Business Continuity – Be the Hero not the Zero
People hear the phrases ‘disaster recovery’ and ‘business continuity’ and think they are synonymous, but they are actually quite different. Disaster Recovery focuses on getting applications and systems back up and running and the goal is to have everything at the same level as they were prior to the disaster.
A business continuity plan, on the other hand, is much broader and refers to the steps needed to keep the overall business operating during a disaster. This plan typically includes a disaster recovery plan as you will need to make sure everything business-critical is properly restored and available, but a business continuity plan will also drill in to what needs to be done the second a disaster strikes. A disaster coordinator or team should piece together the plan, test and review it regularly, and store it so that it can be available at a moment’s notice.
A business continuity plan’s obvious benefit is the reduction of downtime after an event. The main reason companies go out of business after a hurricane is the resulting downtime. Clients typically understand if you are dealing with an emergency situation but that sentiment will only last for so long and what happens if you cannot hold up your end of the arrangement? If you don’t know the answer ask the residents of the City of Baltimore.
Clearly a business continuity plan is crucial to staying in business but it also gives your company a chance to be a hero. Think back to the movie Forrest Gump (If you haven’t seen it you have our permission to leave work immediately and go watch it!). What was the only reason Forrest and Lt. Dan were able to build a shrimping empire? Every single one of their competitor’s boats were destroyed during a hurricane except good ole Jenny (the boat not the person) and they were able to keep all the local restaurants stocked with shrimp while everyone else was stranded on the shore.
How do you think one of your clients would feel if they were able to call you during a hurricane and you were still open, fully operational, and able to deliver your goods and services? Something tells me they would be extremely confident in your ability to come through as a vendor...Not only does this show your company will deliver on its promises but you’re also showing how your company is ahead of any competitor who is stuck in recovery mode and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love one-upping your rivals?
Learn to Leverage IT
Hopefully you can now see some of the intangibles that come out of disaster planning because IT spending can easily be shrugged off as just another expense when it should actually be viewed much differently. Just like a disaster recovery plan, your whole IT network should be leveraged to bring value to your organization. For instance, virtualizing your servers is extremely beneficial when it comes to recovering data, but it also saves a company from buying additional hardware, wasting space, and also helps to cut down on the electric bill. This is just one of a million different ways a company can leverage its IT to reach its goals.
It might take some time but if you adopt this mind set you’ll be utilizing your IT to help your company reach its fullest potential. Start now so no matter what happens this hurricane season your company is ready to come out looking like a hero.