Planning for Disaster

Nothing can sink your small business faster than an unexpected disaster, so you need to be prepared. And disaster recovery preparation is easier than you think.

Planning For DisasterHurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, sprinkler malfunctions, burst pipes, electrical fires, power outages, a failed hard drive – big or small, a disaster could knock your company offline long enough to put you out of business. But it doesn’t take much preparation to make sure you can get back online quickly.

John Motazedi, CEO of SNC Squared – a business that was saved after a tornado thanks to its disaster recovery plan – recommends starting with a few things that would make it difficult to run your business if they were suddenly gone. Once you’ve figured out where you’re vulnerable, it should be pretty clear what you need to do to protect those assets and processes.

Planning for Disaster Records

Keep detailed records of all your business contacts so you can reach them in event of emergency. You may need backup office space, an emergency credit line, a cloud backup copy of your critical data – it might not take much to keep you going.

So take the time to think about what you absolutely need for your business to survive. It should tell you valuable things about your business regardless of whether you ever need that disaster recovery plan.

Adapted from How a Disaster Recovery Plan Can Save Your Business at Small Business Computing.

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Business Continuity Planning – Beyond the Doomsday Scenario

At a conference I recently attended there was a lot of conversation around PS-Prep which bled into the discussion of “Why get certified” or, the more generic question of, “Why perform business continuity planning?” An oft repeated answer to this question, echoed by business continuity planners around the world is, “Because without a plan you will not survive as a company.”

I think this is a disingenuous answer without any history to support it. Where exactly is the evidence of this fact? What historical data can you share with me, or the CEO you are trying to convince, that this is the case? I am confident that you can dig up cases of small companies that did not survive a disaster, but where is that story about the big guy who did not survive the disaster?

The one and only case study I can think of off the top of my head is Enron, but that was a disaster of a different kind.

Look at BP and the horrific Gulf Coast disaster – they survived. Did they have a plan in place for this? Maybe … if so, most professionals would argue against its effectiveness. Were they certified? No.

Look at Cantor Fitzgerald, the one company most widely spoke about concerning the extent of their losses during the events of 9/11. Survived. With much loss and many significant challenges, but they are still in business.

I found this article that lists 8 Infamous Business Disasters – those companies all survived – albeit some under a new name and different business model, but they did survive. Now, not all of these cases are the kinds of disasters we plan for, but I can’t find that one poster child event that proves the statement, “Without a business continuity plan, you will not stay in business.”

Now look, I am a business continuity planner. I make a living out of helping companies put these programs in place. I want … no, I NEED … CEO’s and Boards of Directors to embrace the need for these plans and to invest in professionals like me to help put them in place. But, I think we need a better sales pitch than the shallow threat of; this is needed to survive a disaster.

I don’t think we need C-level executives to buy into this all or nothing proposition with business continuity planning. No, I think that the message should be: Business continuity plans will allow us to mitigate our losses should a disaster occur. The goal is to ensure the investment we make in our plans and solutions is justified by the potential losses that could occur considering the probability that an event happens.

The losses that could occur is measured by performing a Business Impact Analysis and the probability that an event happens is measured by a Risk Analysis.

We plan because it is a reasonable business practice to protect our assets and our stakeholders against losses that could impact the market value of our company not just if, but when, a business interruption event occurs. We need to sell business continuity planning using business terms that executives can understand and stop with the doomsday scenario selling technique. At least, that’s the way I see it.

In the meantime, if you can share those stories with me that support the position companies will not survive without plans, I would love to read them. Thanks.