Disaster Preparedness: You Need a Plan for it to Actually Work

During these last days of summer, when severe storms tend to pop up more often and the hurricane watches are in the news, we are reminded of how a disaster could impact our businesses.
Two recent surveys highlight the fact that knowing there’s a risk and actually putting a disaster plan in place are two different things.

  • A report from Forrester found that 87% of disaster recovery decision makers said that improving disaster recovery capabilities was critical to their business, but 25% of business owners would prefer to deal with the disaster when it occurs than plan ahead!
  • Another report commissioned by Emerson Network Power Found that 79% of businesses surveyed had at least one power outage in 2007, and 42% of those had to close their business during the longest outages. Decision makers ranked power outages higher than fire, government regulation, weather damage, theft and employee turnover as threats to their business, but only 39 percent of them had power backup systems.

Depending on what type of business you are in, you must identify the areas that are critical to continue or resume immediately when disaster strikes. For example, ParentLink, a company in Utah that works with school districts to provide school-to-home communication, needs to be “on” with customers at all times. They have set up a backup site through Qwest Communications that can be used in case of emergency.
Another example is Zagara’s Marketplace, a Cleveland area supermarket. They have implemented a backup power system from Emerson Network Power that automatically switches the store’s power source to a backup generator within seconds. “During the massive blackout of August 2003, the power went out mid-afternoon. Our back-up power system automatically switched my electrical source to a natural gas-powered generator which ran all registers and certain refrigerated equipment,” said John Zagara, owner of Zagara’s Marketplace. “Our front-end staff continued to check out customers until closing at 9 p.m. Our customers were in awe of our service delivery.” Zagara’s back-up power equipment enabled him to not only continue serving customers, but to save meat and frozen foods, valuable perishable inventory.
What service or function would HAVE to go on in an emergency for your business to keep running?

Laura Leites, Assistant Editor, Smallbiztechnology.com