Here’s the typical scenario:
- Step 1: You backed up your data>You feel really good about this>You’re even sleeping well at night.
- Step 2: A powerful hurricane, tornado, storm, earthquake or solar flare hits>The power goes out>No problem>You can start up the generator.
- Step 3: Uh oh>The gas stations are out of gas>Without power, the pumps don’t work.
- Step 4: Without gasoline for the generator, guess what?>You can’t use your computers.>So, you can’t access the data you backed up.
- Step 5: Can’t use your data.>You’re “dead in the water” and out of business.
It’s that simple. You must consider this, and so many other complications for total business continuity.
Here’s our story:
Hurricane Irma went up through Sebring, Florida (where we live and work). Melissa and I evacuated to Mobile, Alabama.
Good thing>Sebring was out of power for 4 days>Gas lines were 3 hours long (if you could find a working station).>Most people had to shut down their businesses.
But, not Ulistic!>We left town in advance and had saved our data in the Cloud, so we didn’t miss a beat!
Hopefully, the majority of your data and software are stored offsite and in the Cloud. In which case, it’s merely a case of ensuring your team can get to a place with power and access it. You must plan this in advance of a disaster.
Disaster Recovery Isn’t Business Continuity.
When it comes to protecting data, it’s important to understand that disaster recovery and business continuity are different concepts. Disaster recovery a small part of overall business continuity. It’s about saving data so you can recover it the event of a disaster. But you need so much more!
Business continuity is about planning for your business to stay up and running before, during and after a disaster. Disaster recovery is focused on data and the network. Business continuity is focused on your people, operations, and continued profitability.
A good business continuity plan always includes a disaster recovery plan. But, you must also have an operational backup plan.
- Step 1: Establish temporary places (with electricity and Wifi) where your critical staff can relocate.>
- Step 2: Virtualize your critical information in the Cloud.>
- Step 3: Now, your business can stay operative on a replicated virtual server that can be activated almost instantaneously after a disaster. >The result? > No network downtime at all!
It’s that simple.
But there’s more.
It makes no difference that your servers are up and running in the cloud if you don’t:
- Designate an emergency downtime manager to make a complete list of essentials to keep your business functioning.
- Designate staff members to act as coordinators.
- Prepare a pre-determined communication plan to let your customers know that operations will remain running.*
- Have an emergency list with employees’ mobile numbers and email info for quick coordination of offsite worksite possibilities and changes.
- Establish a plan so your staff knows how to access essential logins and work on critical applications.
- Conduct staff training in virtual-meeting solutions to ensure critical meetings can still take place.
- Itemize a prioritized list of critical IT functions for recovery.
- Document the IT disaster recovery plan as part of your business continuity plan—And test the plan periodically to make sure that it works.
*Plus, you’ll need a Crisis Communication Plan prior to the disaster.
When an emergency occurs, the need to communicate is immediate. If business operations are disrupted, customers will want to know how they will be impacted. Plus, regulators may need to be notified as well. An important component of your business continuity plan is a crisis communications plan.
You must be able to respond promptly, accurately and confidently during an emergency and after. You may need to reach many different audiences with information specifying the type of business you run. The image of your business can be positively or negatively impacted by public perceptions if you don’t address these needs.
Make sure you’ve compiled contact information for your audiences in advance so it’s available before, during and after the disaster. Depending upon the type of business you run, you should consider reaching out to this potential list of audiences.
- Employees and their families
- News media
- Company management, directors, and investors
- Government officials, regulators, and other authorities
- Suppliers and vendors
Ulistic used Facebook and email to communicate during and after Hurricane Irma. Of course, we set this up prior to the disaster. And our electronic lists were hosted on our secure cloud server. We also kept hard copies of lists with us.
No one was left in the dark as a result. And, because we all evacuated to a place with electricity and WiFi access, we were in constant contact with our staff, clients, and families.
Ulistic stayed up and running during Hurricane Irma thanks to this planning and effort. I can’t stress enough how important this is. The only thing we didn’t do was purchase hurricane shutters when we moved to Sebring a few months ago! Thankfully, our house was spared. But, we’re getting bids now for the shutters!