Disaster Recovery: "It Won't Happen To Me" Doesn't Cut It

Fires have ravaged two Omaha businesses in recent months. Both M’s Pub and Heafey, Hoffmann, Dworak & Cutler funeral home were recently victims to fires so severe that the buildings are total losses – along with the computers and data inside of them.

P&L Technology is a partner with Heafey, Hoffman, Dworak & Cutler, so this blog post will focus on their part of the story. As partners, we had previously worked together to define a disaster recovery (DR) plan. On the day of the fire, that plan enabled them to not only recover their data, but also get the employees access to all of the technical resources they needed by 10 a.m. the next morning. That included temporary computers, a temporary server, and (most importantly) all of the data that they needed to keep the business rolling.

How can you put your business in the same position of quick recovery? Here is a list of the items you need to consider during your DR planning effort:

  • IT services: Which business processes are supported by which systems? What are the risks of not having access to those systems? Having this information documented BEFORE the disaster enables you to restore service to the most critical resources FIRST, and less critical resources in order afterward.
  • People: Who are the stakeholders – both the business and IT – in a given DR process? Clear lines of communication need to be established for status updates and course corrections in the execution of the plan. Identifying that point person (or people) for the business and the IT provider enable rapid decision making and, therefore, rapid action.
  • Suppliers: Which external suppliers would you need to contact in the event of a disaster? Outside of getting your data and computer needs satisfied, who else needs to be contacted? Examples are your phone provider, suppliers with scheduled pickups, and any line of business partners.
  • Locations: Where will you work if your building is rendered inaccessible? Telecommuting is the easiest option. It can also double as an employee perk before the disaster and a much-needed location if your office space is inaccessible.
  • Testing: How will you test the DR plan? This is VERY important and often overlooked. A disaster recovery plan should be tested annually to ensure that any changes you’ve made to your business process or technology over the course of the last year fits into the plan.

As part of our regular NOLOGY webinar series, experts Andrew Embury with P&L Technology and Bill Sauer and Dan O’Halloran with Marcotte Insurance will be presenting “When Disaster Strikes: What You Need to Know About Covering Your Tech Assets” on March 17 at 10 a.m. The webinar will illustrate what should be included in your DR plan, what you can expect to be covered by insurance in disaster recovery and technology lessons learned from these recent local fires. The webinar will run for approximately 30 minutes with time at the end for participant questions. Click here to register.

A recent study by DataBarracks reports that 70 percent of small businesses have no disaster recovery plan in place.  As we have witnessed recently, no one is immune to experiencing a disaster. We recommend, if you don’t currently have a plan in place, start putting one together now, to ensure you have a comprehensive DR plan by 2017.

written by: Scott Wilson - 3/7/2016