15 January 2014

An alarming article was posted on Continuity Central's website recently, highlighting that in the wake of Superstorm Sandy in the U.S. small business owners believe they are ill-prepared to deal with another natural disaster.

The article focuses on the downtime and financial impact sustained by data loss or damage caused by a natural disaster. Finding that on average it would take up to 16 days to recreate or recover their files – and nearly a third surveyed said they would never be able to recover or recreate all of their important business data if it was lost. It was a common misconception by those surveyed (62%) that traditional insurance would cover the non-tangible aspects of their business, such as data loss, and that data back-up malpractice was rife among those surveyed.

Read the full article here.

Having read this how do you think you would fare? If you are a larger company than those in the subject of this survey do you really think you would fare better?

We have all, more than likely, got business continuity plans, data recovery plans, and the like (we do, don't we?)... While this case study is predominately about data, the question is really "are your disaster plans adequate for the catastrophic event?" Will you, your company, your employees and ultimately your customers be victims of disaster, or will you be the ones who are ready to recover and to thrive in adversity.

What will your customers think of you if you are up and running while your competitors are floundering? They will love you.

The reason most disaster/emergency/continuity plans fail – and most do fail - in a disaster is that they fail to adequately assess the scale and duration of the risk. In short they are simply not plans that get us ready for what is possible. Because a disaster is less likely risk (than other higher likelihood and frequency risks) it is often neglected. Here is where those of us who remember Lost in Space say "Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!". Frequency is important but the scale of the consequence is vital. Being ready for the catastrophic event is critical to your commercial, social and professional reputation.

Staying with the USA example: look at the performance of a company like WalMart in the post disaster phase. Whilst others are still coming to grips with the fact that a disaster has actually happened - Walmart is mobilising their resources to support impacted communities. Running operations from temporary warehouses if necessary, creating new or alternative supply chains, engaging with the impacted community. This doesn't just happen on the day - they can only do this because they have thought about disaster impacts, have plans and structures in place and an agreed strategic commitment to achieve these outcomes.

As a result of this not only do WalMart support disaster recovery for the impacted and garner their support and loyalty, they support their key stakeholders, create new market opportunities and outperform their less prepared competitors.

Have you planned to outperform your competition after a disaster, or will you be just another victim?

- Bruce Grady, Dynamiq Lead Consultant - Disaster and Emergency Management

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