Musing 2014 #2 – Extreme Weather

We have all seen the effects of extreme weather and it seems like there has been more of it in the last few years. Regardless if there is more of it or if we just hear about it more due to our hyper-connected world, it is something we need to be aware of. But, you may be asking yourself why are you reading about extreme weather in an IT related context? Well, it all relates to business interruption.

This past weekend I got a series of texts and calls from friends concerned that there was flooding in Burlington and was my home and business OK? I was able to reply, thank you for your concern but we are all ok. It was not so OK for some of the businesses and homes a few kilometers away where there were roads flooded and washed out, power lines down, basements flooded, even some main floors flooded. Did we do anything special to avoid this? No, it was just luck. Were we prepared if something did happen? I like to think so because we have spent time thinking about and developing a plan.

Sometimes the business is interrupted by a situation near, but not at, the business. E.g. the nearby road(s) leading to the business are impassable but the business itself is not damaged (like the truck that hit the Burlington Skyway recently, this caused all sorts of commute time issues for staff of many businesses). There could be interruption due to some or all staff not being able to get to the place of business. E.g. widespread flooding or a massive snowstorm. And the last one (and yes, I would rather not think about it either but it could happen), the place of business itself is damaged or destroyed.

All of the above constitute business interruption. Generally, this (and more) is all covered under your ‘Business Continuity Plan’ or ‘Disaster Recovery Plan’. These plans range anywhere from a one page set of guidelines to a large tome with specific scenarios and action plans. What we are going to focus on here is the IT side of things.

There are some broad steps we can take to mitigate a large number of these situations;

Have an up to date personal contact list that is updated every 6 months to ensure you can reach staff and give them instructions in case of an issue.
Make sure all of the plan information is shared with staff so that in the event of an issue, they will be able to take the appropriate action.
Have an offsite backup strategy. HardSoft Systems offers a cloud backup, call us @ 1-800-263-8433 FREE to get it set up right away.
Have an IT support company that provides office space, computers, server, phones, internet access etc as a ‘hot site’ in case your business suffers a catastrophic incident. HardSoft Systems offers this, call us @ 1-800-263-8433 FREE to find out how this works.
Enable some or all your staff to work by remote to ensure they are able to do their jobs should they not be able to get to the facility for some reason. Call us @ 1-800-263-8433 FREE to talk about how this is done.
Know who provides your telephone services and the 24 hour service numbers and keep that information on hand (maybe with the staff contact list above) so you can re-direct your phones if required.
Have your computer infrastructure audited by qualified personnel to identify weak areas prone to interruption due to extreme events. E.g. Internet equipment not protected by a UPS, a Server with a UPS but no monitoring software, etc. Call HardSoft Systems @ 1-800-263-8433 FREE to schedule an audit.

Naturally, the next question is cost. We can look at this two ways, the first way is as an expense. The second way (and the best way) is as insurance. You have spent years building the business, a small ‘insurance policy’ in the form of a few steps (as above) and small monthly charge and that investment is protected in the event of catastrophe.

The above steps are not very costly on a monthly basis, yes there are some up front costs, but the monthly costs are affordable. Speaking of the up front costs, in Musings 2014 #3 we will talk about how to leverage these same disaster preparedness steps as ways to streamline and make the business more efficient – effectively making these plans pay for themselves in efficiencies gained.

If you don’t want to wait for the next Musings to find out how, please call HardSoft Systems Ltd @ 1-800-263-8433 FREE and talk to us about this.

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