Friday, February 24, 2012

If You Backup Data But Don't Have A Backup Place To Work

We had a client not too long ago that backed up their data every day and stored it "off site."

Their idea of "off site" was about 80-yards across the management parking lot, in a small house they had purchased.  If there had been an explosion in the plant, or in the research lab, or a tornado had roared across the site, their back-up would have been destroyed or at least inaccessible.

And more recently we heard about a small start-up company that backed up their customer data and stored it off site.  A fire broke out in the building where they had rented office space and the fire destroyed almost everything including their computers and servers.

It took them weeks to find new office space and get computers and a server and some office furniture. In the meantime their clients couldn't wait for them and went elsewhere.  And it wasn't many months before the business collapsed.

There are a number of lessons in these two examples.

A business without an operational crisis plan, a communication plan AND a recovery plan is a business waiting to fail.

A few years ago, you might have survived a business interruption that lasted weeks or longer, but today, competition being what it is, a competitor is quick to pounce on your customers/clients/patients and an interruption of service for more than a day or two is more likely to be fatal.

Ten years ago, Edgewater Technology of suburban Boston was the victim of an employee that went on a shooting spree and killed seven co-workers.  The business was a crime scene for nearly a week and it was almost two weeks before work resumed.  It could have been a business ending event, but management did  all the right things -- communicating with employees quickly and frequently; contacting customers and suppliers and treating the victim families with care, compassion and support.

The company not only survived but has flourished.  But, Edgewater is an exception.

If your facility is heavily damaged or destroyed, I don't care how big or small, if you don't have a plan and back-up place to work, your days may be numbered.

We have a manufacturing client that has worked hard to reduce redundancy in their operations and hold down costs.  But, when we started working with them I ask management what would happen if a storm, fire or other disaster leveled one of their plants?  Each plant makes a different household product and is sold in store chains all over North America.

I was assured that was never going to be a problem.  However, one of the operations managers called a couple of months later and said I had caused him to explore the "what ifs."  He concluded that if a plant were destroyed there was only one company that could build the replacement production line equipment and it was located in Europe.  He talked to them and they said it would take about six months to design a new production line, then the project would wait its turn to be manufactured in their facilities.  It would take nearly a year to make and another six months to ship it to the US and several months to install it.

The good news was that a new building could be up and ready for the production equipment long before it was ready to install!

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