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Business Strategy and PlanningDisaster Recovery Planning

Why Do Some Companies Still Not Have a Disaster Recovery Plan?

By April 12, 2017March 30th, 2024No Comments

There are many companies today, in Southwestern Ontario, which still do not have a Disaster Recovery Plan. This article is going to posit as to why in 2017 this could still be the case.

Below I have cited 4 possible reasons for a lack of motivation and interest in companies developing their DR Plan. I will then use these reasons as a basis to argue the importance of a Disaster Recovery .

  1. A disaster in our area is highly unlikely.
  2. We’re small; we don’t need a DR plan. That’s just for big companies.
  3. We’ve wanted to create a DR plan but we just don’t have the time to develop one.
  4. They’re a lot of work and are expensive to develop, implement and maintain.

A Disaster in our area is HIGHLY Likely

  • The North East Blackout of 2003 was a widespread power outage that occurred throughout parts of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States and Ontario on Thursday, August 14, 2013. The blackout affected an estimated 10 million people in Ontario and 45 million people in eight US States. Read More »
  • On Wednesday, February 29, 2012 more than 10,000 hydro customers in Southwestern Ontario were without power. Read More »
  • The 2013 North American ice storm was a severe ice storm that struck central and eastern portions of Canada – over 1.5million people were affected. Read More »

These are just three examples of disasters that could affect companies in Southwestern Ontario. Granted, it is unlikely that SW Ontario is going to suffer from hurricane Katrina type disasters. But anything from hydro outages, which seem prevalent, to train derailments are all possible and likely disasters that could irreparably damage your company if you are not up and running quickly, efficiently, and effectively.

We’re small; we don’t need a DR plan. That’s just for big companies

Why do we have house insurance? We have house insurance in case something happens to our home, like a fire, and our home including its contents are destroyed. Why do we perform backups on our laptop computers? Because it would be a huge inconvenience to lose all of the documents, tax files, music and pictures that currently call the laptop home.

Those are two simple examples but it goes to show that we already have disaster recovery plans somewhat implemented in our own personal lives. Smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, security alarms, some people have even purchased gasoline powered generators.

These have been all installed or purchased for our homes for protection in the event of a disaster, and to prevent disasters.

The list can go on but suffice to say that for a business disaster recovery plans do not have to be large endeavours, you simply need to take the time to think about it before it happens.

Disaster preparedness and response is especially important in small businesses because there are fewer people, so each one matters more to the survival of the company.

We’ve wanted to create a DR plan but we just don’t have the time to develop one.

“Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.” ~Robert Benchley

“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” ~William James

I am sure I can find many more quotations regarding procrastination.

It’s been estimated that 80% of businesses affected by a major incident either never re-open or close within 18 months (Source, Axa) – I think that should be enough to get you motivated to think about a DR Plan.

They’re a lot of work and are expensive to develop, implement and maintain.

They really are not a lot of work. Perhaps you feel that way because you just don’t know where to begin.

There is an old joke in project management that goes like this:

Question: How do you eat an elephant?
Answer: One bite at a time!

As a person who has developed numerous disaster recovery plans my advice is by starting with putting a team together. HR, Finance, Procurement, the building superintendent and IT would be a good cross section of your team’s members. Secondly, know the people that work within your company, don’t say – “we have a distribution list in email”…that will not help in the event of a hydro disruption or a catastrophic email server outage.  I am referring to alternate ways of getting hold of senior management and getting the message out to employees not to come to work because, for example, the building power is out, or the building is flooded.

Determine a chain of command, who do you contact first? What do you do if you can’t contact the person you were supposed to contact first? For example, the CEO is out of the country. But you need a single decision maker and they need to know the steps involved in a crisis. Think about work space alternatives. Think about your main vulnerabilities and single points of failure. Backup your data. What supplies do you need to carry on after a disaster strikes.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list, but highlights what types of questions you should be asking and getting answers to. Before you know it you will be prepared. There is one last thing. Test the plan in a controlled environment.


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