Why A Disaster Recovery Plan Can Make or Break Your Business
You see it on the news. A natural disaster strikes a city. State and federal emergency management teams descend on the area to assist restoring order. What you don’t hear is that according to the Small Business Administration:
- 40 percent of businesses without a disaster recovery plan never reopen after an emergency
- More than 90 percent of businesses fail within two years of being hit with a disaster
You may have even seen a minor glimpse of chaos after Nashville’s recent ice storm that knocked out power lines and hampered, to some degree at least, much of the region’s business activity.
Of course, you always want to be prepared for the worst, and that planning begins before a catastrophe – or even a temporary inconvenience – comes your way. With spring storm season approaching, we encourage all companies to start or reassess disaster recovery and business continuity plans so that essential communication and operation aren’t interrupted.
In the telecom industry, we’ve seen firsthand the importance of having a disaster recovery plan many times over. In 2005, for example, Hurricane Rita disconnected voice communications to one of our client’s hospitals in southeast Texas. Folks desperately needed to know if the hospital was open and functioning, which it was, but when they called, instead of speaking with an operator, the phone gave an automatic busy signal. We made certain that automated plans were in place that allowed us to solve the issue at hand almost immediately.
And of course, natural disasters aren’t the only reason to put a recovery plan in place.
For instance, just this January, 2,000 feet of fiber was suddenly ripped from the ground in Louisiana, crippling a hospital and its clinics’ telecom network. None of the facilities could admit patients, transfer images, operate web applications or access billing and administration information. We jumped into action, making phone calls to inform the carrier that the hospital was a telecom service priority client because it was a health care provider. While repairs were in progress, we continued to provide our client support until the issue was resolved. What could have taken days took us just a few hours because the hospital enacted its emergency plan.
Understandably, you can’t realistically create a plan for every single possible scenario, but there are some steps you can take when building your disaster recovery plan to better prepare your business for whatever may come your way. They include:
- Appointing an internal team to own disaster recovery planning: You need a single person or committee to spearhead your telecom recovery effort from a central location to keep communication and strategy in sync. These appointed people know right away when the unexpected occurs to put the plan in place.
- Building relationships with people who can assist you in a crisis: Getting to know the right contacts at organizations like the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Small Business Administration – even local technology vendors or carrier support representatives –can make it much easier to find who you need the precise moment you need them.
- Prioritizing the technology that has to work: In times of disaster, you may not be able to remediate everything at once. Develop a priority list that indicates the most essential communications functions to your company, such as basic voice services so that customers can reach your or bandwidth to support your e-commerce site. Leave the non-critical technologies, like your fax lines, for later.