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Is Disaster Planning Only for IT?

There is a huge misconception about DR and that it is only an IT function.  Yes, many of the pieces of Disaster Recovery planning involve IT.  I get that.  However many pieces involve upper level management, HR and more.  It is essential to build a comprehensive plan rather than just a piece of it.

  1. List out the various disaster scenarios that your business could face.  Theft, Fire, Internet or phone line outage, Hurricane, Power Loss, total building loss, water damage etc.  Each one of these have a different attack angle and require a different response.  In the last hurricane some areas of Florida were without power for over a month.  Keep in mind that there are low cost ways of even having a hot site available in case of a disaster that would allow staff to go and get back to work.  This is just as much part of DR as having great backups or a great DRAAS solution.
  2. Management needs to determine how much time they are willing to be without service.  If you add up a professional’s hourly rate and multiply it out by the number of hours of downtime you might experience in a disaster, and then multiply everybody else at the firm and add it all up, that could add up to a lot of dollars in lost revenue.  Having your data available in a highly available datacenter is one way to create redundancy.  Certainly this has a cost associated with it, but the alternative could be much worse.
  3. Don’t forget your people.  If phone lines are down, how do you contact your staff to let them know where to go to implement a disaster plan or where, when and how to come to work? If loss of life occurs in some disasters, who is the next person to turn to?
  4. Test the backup plan yearly.  This doesn’t just mean participating in the building’s fire drill.  Make a point to not only look at the IT’s Backup testing and DR solution, but at least get the heads of the departments together each year to discuss what it might take to implement your plan, tweak issues and put into action solutions that you outlined.  Simple things like “how do you fund the office restoration?” or “Do we have enough insurance of this kind or that kind or are there clauses that limit the insurance company’s exposure in certain circumstances?”  “What is our true recovery time if this happens, or that?”  In one disaster I found an Accounting firm that experienced a major outage during the weekend before client taxes were due to the IRS.  This is obviously a worst case scenario.  But downtime during this time could be devastating.  What can you do to survive these threats?
  5. Build a DR team.  Don’t lean on just one person.  If you don’t know where to begin ask.  We have professionals that can assist with putting together a comprehensive plan.  There are plenty of resources available locally and nationally that help businesses develop better DR plans.  But don’t delay.  Your business depends on it.  All the employees that work for you depend on you.  Don’t let them down.

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Chris Cardillo is the VP of Technology and Marketing at Cloud Grid. He has over 20 years of IT experience, primarily spent as Director of IT at law firms. He is the president of CatchLeads.com and has been the President of the Law Firm Technology Group since 2000. This group has grown to over 1000 members since he took office.