• Document your manual processes so you can quickly start using them if disaster strikes. Do you have a name and number lists so you can reach key people? Do you have in place a plan for something as simple as forwarding your phones to a remote location or a cell phone so you can keep in touch with customers and vendors?
• Back-ups are the logical great first step. But, how many times have you heard where companies went to their back ups only to find they did not back up the right folders or the tape was bad? Or worse, backups were not really running, they just acted like it. To address this issue it is vital you test the integrity of your backups. Perform a full test restore periodically. How often you test that is directly related to your comfort level. Run some test data in all your software applications. Don’t forget to take old tapes or other media out of the backup rotation.
• Keeping backups off site gives you the security that your backups won’t go up in flames, get drowned or taken by thieves when everything else in the office if affected. Again you need to know your tolerance for how much work you want to do to determine how often you rotate off site.
• If your systems are up and running and your data gets damaged – how much work time can you afford to spend recreating the data since your last backup? Robert’s parts distributor currently holds all shipping/receiving information until the end of the day and enters their sales orders in the morning. They are most vulnerable two times of the day right before posting.
• If your system shuts down due to hardware failure – how long could the business go before the system needed to be back up? Gary’s manufacturing company’s “insurance” is the manual backup systems they still utilize. Gary says he didn’t need to have backups more than once a day and rotating their tape off site to an owner’s house seemed to work well. Just as important to protect their investment, Gary committed to keep their hardware up to date and on current versions of the software applications and operating system. That would make it easier for them to quickly replace their hardware. They also have Terminal Server in place so the server could be anywhere.
• If you run payroll in house – how much leeway do you have from when you get timecards in to when paychecks needs to be in employee hands? If you had to do them manually how long would it take? Getting checks to 25 employees is totally different than paychecks for 3,500, which was Susan’s concern as a restaurant franchisee. She needed a more comprehensive “insurance policy” that in her case led to the decision to store a printer with a MICR cartridge and blank check stock off site with a virtual server image of their install just in case their building was damaged. Their insurance was the ability for an authorized person from their team to actually work out of the remote site and produce payroll.
This was a more comprehensive choice because of the duplicated system, the hardware to support and the services to keep it current. The restaurant company decided that after the initial setup they were fine with testing the system just once a year. This was a fine tuning change that made them feel their “insurance policy” was a good investment.
Be honest with yourself as you assess the business tolerance for what might arise as a result of a disaster. Take the time to list out and understand your most vulnerable processes. Assess what pieces are impacted and what your business would look like if you could not access your systems for 1 day, 3 days, 7 days – you get the picture. At one of those points you “cry uncle” and say I can’t go that long.
Once you know what you can and can’t live with, you’ll know how
much “insurance” you need to consider. The next step now is to decide
on the individual tools and then implement. You then have the assurance of knowing
you really have thought through the contingencies and you can live with and
survive with the consequences.