Can you plan for a Disaster?

For those who’ve been directly affected by the recent flooding, there’s no doubt that it’s been a complete disaster. The level of disruption and cost is something that none of us would ever really want to contemplate.

The cost of the damage has run into the hundreds of millions. Rail links remain affected in some areas, and the economic impact to long term business prospects in the South West is not yet fully known. Not to mention the catastrophic effects on some livelihoods.

Understandably, the focus of much of the media reporting has been on domestic property rather than business, and I’d like to think that’s because most businesses in the affected areas have successfully implemented their Disaster Recovery plans and minimised the short-term impact.

If they haven’t, then some rather scaremongering, and possibly unreliable, statistics would suggest that their long-term prospects of survival aren’t great (widely disputed figures suggest that 80% of businesses are likely to close after a disaster – I think it could be as high as 50%.)

So why wouldn’t you have a disaster recovery (DR) plan in place?

Would you go without car insurance these days? If your car is stolen or damaged beyond repair, then, depending on your level of cover, the chances are your insurance company will provide you with a replacement and keep you on the move.

The same principles and aims apply for business continuity – it’s all about keeping your business running as best you can.

Putting in place a Disaster Recovery plan doesn’t need to be an expensive process; it’s really just about risk management – in the same way that you’d manage any risks within your business.

In very simple terms, it’s all about two things – impact, and likelihood. And then being in control of what you can control.

There’s little point in sitting worrying about the apocalypse – if it’s going to be like it is in the movies, then there’s probably not a great deal you can do about it. It’s all about making plans that are relevant to your business.

The good news is that some of the simple and straightforward elements of a DR plan may already be in place, as part of well-thought through IT processes.

Many (if not most) businesses already have a back-up routine in place, and those with automated online back-up will probably be able to switch on a Disaster Recovery option.

Businesses that are already running Cloud-based services will already be in a position to access at least a proportion of their systems and data from anywhere at any time, so their main priority is likely to be connectivity.

As I’m sure those who have been caught in the recent floods will testify, the stress is almost as bad as what’s happening around them, so it makes sense to invest time in ensuring that you’re prepared should the unthinkable happen, rather than relying on blind panic.

We’ve produced a guide to help you cover all the essentials when it comes to Disaster Recovery planning – we hope you find it useful.