How Business Continuity Can Save SMBs from Severe Weather Disasters

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    We've all seen reports of businesses losing everything due to an unexpected disaster. Whether a pipe bursts and floods an entire office or a tornado strikes and leaves a building in shambles, these stories are devastating to hear about. Still, most people seeing these stories on television, or reading about them in the newspaper or online are left with the feeling of, "that could never happen to me." Well the truth is, it can.

    The recent string of tornadoes in the south caused over $1 billion in damages to businesses and homes. In fact, according to an article published on Slate, at least 68 tornadoes were reported across 15 states during the week of December 21st. Meanwhile, the East Coast just received its first snowfall of the winter after a devastatingly cold and snowy 2014.

    For small and mid-sized business owners, this should be alarming. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% of businesses do not reopen after a disaster and another 25% fail within one year. This is largely do to the high cost of downtime. After hearing this statistic, it should be clear that having a solid and reliable business continuity plan in place is imperative for any SMB.

    The 2011 Business Continuity Planning in Severe Weather: Advice to Businesses on Preparing for Severe Weather lays out an extensive guide on how businesses should go about ensuring that they will be able to continue to operate in the event of a disaster.

    Risk Evaluation and Control

    The first thing that a business should do when evaluating its risk is to identify which portions of the business are critical and necessary to achieve objectives. Lets say a doctor's office in Maine experiences a power outage due to a large snow storm. Will they be able to access the critical patient data that is stored on their servers? If the doctor's office determines that patient data is critical and necessary to maintain business operations, the server that houses that data NEEDS to be operational in order to avoid downtime for the business.

    The doctor's office should continue to do this for every aspect of the business that is needed to stay operational. Once a full list is developed, your clients should continue to the next step in the process.

    Business Impact and Analysis
    Once the list of critical business operations has been built out, the SMB needs to determine the potential risks to those critical operations. These risks should include things like severe weather, power outages, floods, etc. Research can be done to determine the amount of risk that the business is subject to depending on the area that it is located in. In the earlier example, the doctor's office was located in Maine. Since parts of Maine receive high average snowfall annually, that business would be at a higher risk of having to deal with a snow-related disaster than businesses in other areas. As such, that doctor's office should have a recovery plan in place.

    Development of Business Continuity Strategies

    For each determined risk, there needs to be an action plan. SMBs should work with their MSPs to establish a plan to stay up and running during each of the premeditated disaster scenarios. Is data being replicated off site so that it can be easily restored if a local server is damaged? MSPs can provide their clients with a Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) solution that will allow their businesses to stay operational and eliminate downtime in any disaster scenario.

    Follow along with the remaining items in the chart here