At the April meeting of the IMA Tulsa Chapterthe Treasurer of Hammons Product Company, Laura Ronald, shared the importance of businesses planning for disasters.
Her advice came from a position of “real world” experience having lived through and working for employers effected by natural disasters. The most recent example she illustrated was that of the May 4, 2003 tornado that hit Stockton, Missouri and her current employer Hammons Product Company Hammons Product Company.
Hammons is a commercial processor of black walnuts. If you’ve eaten black walnut ice cream, then you’ve probably enjoyed walnuts processed by Hammons. The tornado devastated Stockton and Hammons Product Company alone lost eight buildings as well numerous fixed assets. After sharing her story of the event and how it affected Hammons, she went on to make recommendations for “disaster readiness”.
The first sounds simple and we all get this, but do you have a plan? In another words, how will you continue to operate if or when a disaster effects your business? Do you have a facility that you can relocate your workers to if your building is destroyed? Do they have the ability to work remotely? Do you have a hardware vendor that can install new servers, software and load data in a timely manner after a disaster? If you are a distributor or manufacturer, how will you continue to process customer orders manually if need be? Get the picture? You need to have a documented plan for “business continuity”.
Next, Laura said to make sure to understand all details about your company's insurance coverage and verify that everything is up to date. She emphasized that knowing what the claims process will “look like” ahead of a disaster will save both time and money. So take advantage of your insurance representatives expertise and knowledge to educate you. Another suggestion was to move to an off-site backup solution with regularly scheduled test restores. Conducting a test restore allows you to validate that your data will be there after a disaster.
What this could look like is backing up to an appliance onsite and then replicating a copy of your data to an off-site data center. In my own opinion, this option should also include a “private cloud” component. Meaning, that you have a copy of mission critical applications setup in a virtual environment at an off-site data center. This way, if your network goes “down” you can load your data into a virtual environment and begin to work remotely within hours as opposed to days or even weeks.