Well as I enter the final week before I reach fatherhood with only 3 days to go, I realise that my whole life will change in just a few short days, but it got me to thinking how in real life you don’t have disaster recovery plans, infact not a lot about life is formulated at all. Yet in business disaster recovery is a fact of life and needs careful formulation and testing to protect your business. But how much focus is placed on your staff to ensure business continuity for your clients? We all speak about redundancy in the hardware and software solutions, they are almost a given when you are buying a new system, unless the budget you are given really doesn’t stretch to it, or you are instructed to make do with the existing equipment to build some sort of redundancy…. but even with the redundancy you need some sort of plan for when it flips over to it’s redundant paths (how irritating is a beeping raid disk or a failed fan) and what if it is a lot worse than that?
The need for planning really hit home to me last year, there I was in my cabin having just boarded one of Royal Carribean’s biggest cruiseliners (not the biggest by far, but it was basically a floating village!) we had read that there would be an evacuation drill shortly after getting to the cabins, but I had no idea what to expect. (those who have been on one of these cruise-liner will ralate to this) What came next was one of the biggest, most suprising executions of a disaster plan I had ever been involed in, and I had no choice…. Hearing the beeping (yes, a little louder than the irratating raid failure) EVERYONE grabbed their life jackets and headed for their designated zones; with our life jackets over head we all lined up with militery precision while a crew member counted every one of us. Now I said we had no choice in this matter, and I really meant that, as I looked around, I spotted a couple in their undies (she wasn’t the hottest looker on the cruiseliner unfortunately) but there was even a youngish girl in her knickers with nothing else but her life jacket. All this was executed within approximately 5 minutes, the crew had the 2000+ holiday makers on deck ready to jump onto the lifeboats….. Now in real life this is life or death and everyone there (as silly as we all felt in our bright orange life jackets) knew that, but this could be the same for your business.
The evac was executed so well because each member of that crew knew what he/she had to do, the captain and senior crew members had formulated a plan, trained their staff and practised as if it was a real life situation. Every eventuality had been given thought and planned around, so even the elderly could be managed to the life boats by crew members in time to save their lives.
Looking at how well this was executed, it gave me a new understanding of documentation and execution testing, I mean no plan is worth anything without all the parties involved actually be able to play their part.
Thinking now about creative design, pre-media, pre-press, packaging and print companies how any of them have well formulated and need I say tested disaster recovery plans and what focus has been given to them by the senior management?
Regardless of how much money you spend on redundant hardware it will mean nothing if you haven’t planned for the worst case scenarios, lets take an example, and the possible damage it can inflict on your business. One day your ISP suffers a major connection failure and your website, your online portal and all your IP telephony is knocked out for a minimum of 4 hours….. Who or what is most important here, your IT communicating with the ISP to resolve the issue, the cascading the information though-out the organization to ensure correct communication to the clients or rerouting the traffic through a backup communication link? Good question and one that needs to be had with your senior management, your legal department and any senior sales executives since these are are people who deal directly with the SLA’s of the business and make the decisions on the amount of time and money put to the business continuity plans. Another example, and one we come across frequently is when IT staff are reduced to the barebones, then no plans are made for when staff take holidays, even worse when the management accidently allow holidays to be taken at the same time….. Is the cost ever calculated?
One thing is for sure the business leaders need to calculate the impact any outage would cost, whether that is a broken office PC, a dead monitor in the design department or a complete power cut to a site, all situations need to be planned for and justified in financial terms, these plans need to be tested as if real and responsibilities delegated and written into any employee contracts.
Here at Tunicca we are able to formulate business continuity plans to ensure successful execution, providing real business cost impact analysis and risk mitigation.
Author: Gary George
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