Despite knowing the potentially disastrous effects of data losses and work stoppages, many companies still choose to run on the hope that they are somehow immune to disasters. Data shows that almost half of the small and medium size businesses do not have a disaster recovery plan in place. Addtionally, about half of the companies that actually do have a disaster recovery plan in place implemented it after they got burnt by a disaster. It is like watching your health and diet after you have a heart attack. That strategy works only if you are lucky to be alive after the heart attack!
Why is that people spend so much time and money building their businesses, but are reluctant to invest time and money in protecting their investment? Most companies do backup their data, but most don’t have a fixed schedule to do so, nor do they test the backed up data for corruption. The situation is even worse when it comes to disaster recovery. Backing up data does not help if the applications and systems like the server and network are not available. Very few companies actually even perform basic scenario based disaster recovery testing to find out if their BDR solution is performing as it should. Many do engage the services of a third party vendor to back up their data. However no testing is done to ensure that the data is uncorrupted and available whenever needed.
I think the major reasons for businesses, especially small businesses, for not having a contingency plans in place are:
1. Limited time, money and resources.
2. Viewing contingency planning as an expense.
3. Thinking that disasters won’t happen to them.
So what would it take for a business, besides being burnt by a disaster, to realize importance of implementing and periodic testing a contingency plan? How can a small business with limited resources not have a CP? According to the Symantec 2011 disaster preparedness study, the average cost of business downtime for a day for small businesses is $3000 and that for medium sized businesses is $23,000. This represents a significant chunk of money that could have gone towards employee salaries, getting new equipment or attending a conference that could lead to potential contacts and clients. In the current economic climate, businesses need to make every dollar they spend count. The last thing a business owner needs is to spend precious limited time, money and resources on downtime that could have been easily prevented by implementing a well thought out backup and disaster recovery solution that is affordable. Changing the perception of Contingency Planning from that of an expense to an investment, is key in getting business leaders to make CP a priority. Having a well written CP allows a business to prevent or reduce downtime thereby reducing business loss. More importantly, it also builds their business reputation among customers, partners and prospective clients by having services available when needed.
Additionally, most small businesses work as subcontractors to large companies on various projects. Having a CP in place lets your client know that they can rely on you in times of emergency and feel secure in the knowledge that the project data is protected and that their supply chain is dependable. Big business can confidently subcontract to those vendors that have a written contingency plan in place. This increases the brand value of the small business leading to referrals and increased revenue.
2011 has been a year of natural disasters. Businesses in Massachusetts experienced considerable stoppages of work due to power failure ranging from days to weeks. Massachusetts experienced everything from severe snow/ice storms, hurricane, earthquake and even a tornado touchdown near Springfield that devastated a number of businesses. Many of these businesses will never open. So if you happen to be one of the lucky businesses that didn’t get affected by any these disasters, be thankful. Let the experience of those not so lucky, make you take a hard look at your disaster recovery plans. Imagine how your business would deal with a worst case scenario and plan accordingly.
Hopefully, understanding the benefits of a written and well executed backup and disaster recovery plan and the positive impact, not only on reduced downtime and increased efficiency of operations but also on business growth, will lead to organizations making contingency planning a priority for the New Year.