Disaster planning for SMBs

We decided this month to provide you with a tongue-in-cheek, but real world view of being a technology dependent SMB, working from the northern parts of Ontario’s York Region, located in the middle of a forest and how our own disaster plan has evolved.From our grass roots research in networking with multiple small and medium businesses (SMBs) throughout southern and middle Ontario, one of the least considered areas of business planning for SMBs is disaster planning.

For the purposes of this article, we consider disaster planning to include the physical, logical and digital management of information, assets and people that are used to gain revenue, support customers and operate a business.

Having grown up in the financial and technology industries where disaster planning was taken very seriously, it befuddles us at Fox Group, as business owners, why most SMBs don’t think about this area. Most people can regale stories of businesses that they know were hit very hard by serious events such as fire, flood, electrical or technology disasters.

Many of the examples shared highlighted the lack of a disaster plan that caused the business to not only have serious long-term financial implications, but in some instances, it ceased to exist.

Physical Disasters

  • Theft, fires, floods or other natural disasters that either destroy or damage your physical place of business and assets used to conduct business;
  • Loss of electrical power, loss or lack of heat or cooling, access to safe drinking water and use of sewage systems;
  • Storage, availability and access to all of the financial records including invoices, statements, account numbers, vendor contact names/numbers, PIN numbers, etc.

Logical/Digital Disasters

  • Fatal failure of key computing or storage devices (i.e. servers, back up storage units, etc.);
  • Failure or undetected degradation of storage medium of computer archive backups.

There are many other considerations to factor in developing your own corporate disaster plan.

Allow me to share an example from a major electrical outage that occurred recently, and how our business kept operating.

We installed a gas generator to power the main electrical appliances as well as a water pump and few key lights.

In addition, we have electrical power available for our core technology equipment, that being our VoIP phone system, servers, wireless LAN equipment and ability to operate key laptops from anywhere on site.

This physical and logical flexibility allows us to quickly relocate to another location if required and was put to the test recently.

A potential offsite for your business does not have to be a business location. It does need to have electrical power, water and sanitation facilities, Internet access and a place to work from.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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