Smart business plan for disaster — not if, but when
You are the owner of a successful business in the Delaware region with 26 employees. Business is thriving and your employees are happy. Everything is going great for your company and life is good. What a pleasant scenario to envision. If it could stay that way forever, we would have no reason to consider the “what-ifs.” Unfortunately when it comes to a disaster, it is not really a matter of “if,” but more a matter of “when” it will rear its ugly head.
As a business owner, one of your primary responsibilities is keeping the company’s data safe and secure. I say primary responsibility because of the impact it would have on your business if none of your employees could access their documents, their spreadsheets, their presentations, their accounting data, or (dare I say it) their e-mail. While a 10-minute outage in the middle of the day would be inconvenient, instead I am referring more to a server disaster lasting several hours or days.
For example, a virus that locks up all of your data holding it for ransom, a hardware failure that results in complete data loss, a fire that results in the sprinkler system activating, a tree that falls onto your building during a storm, and so on “¦ you get the picture.
So what should you do about an impending calamity impacting your business? The trick is to have a plan before something bad happens. That plan is known in the IT world as a Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan or a Business Continuity Plan. When creating the plan for your business, you’ll need to address questions such as these:
- How long can your business sustain having your IT infrastructure go down or be offline? An hour? A day? Three days?
- What is the financial cost of downtime to your business? (Remember that lost productivity equals lost money – albeit sometimes an intangible quantity)
- How long does it take to recover using your current backup solution?
- Do you keep a copy of your backup offsite so you have a copy in the event of complete loss of your onsite data? If so, is your offsite copy accessible online from the internet? If it is accessible online, how long would it take to make that copy of your backup the active version?
- If one or more physical servers are inoperable, what are your options for replacements and how long will it take to get them up and running?
- How will employees communicate and work if the office is inaccessible or unusable?
- When was the last time your current solution was actually tested? How often is it tested or monitored for errors?
Keep in mind that there is no way to plan for every single scenario and these are just some of the many questions that need to be answered. However these questions can be used to get you thinking and assist you in starting to develop a good plan. As the owner of a small business, it is your job to be educated enough to ask the right questions and ensure that your company does not fail due to a catastrophic loss of data. In many cases, if you permanently lose your data, you permanently lose your company. Be sure to dedicate appropriate time and resources to make sure that never happens.
Rich Kenney is vice president of Wilmington-based TechSolutions Inc., which has provided skilled technology services to small and midsized businesses since 1999.