Preparing for Data Disasters

Simplified: The Official Blog of MCCi

Implementing a Content Services Platform as Part of Your Business Continuity Plan

MCCi / May 08, 2019

We are all familiar with the ‘rainy day fund’ or emergency fund that is recommended in case we need it for personal emergencies. Many of us find that we are indeed glad to have the funds set aside as the unexpected does happen, often. Ever have a flat tire? Your washing machine breaks or leaks? A tree or a tree limb falls on your roof during a storm? Or your AC unit dies? These are minor examples of how a small situation can affect us in our personal lives, but the costs associated with disasters for businesses that haven’t prepared for that rainy-day fund could mean the difference between thriving past inconvenient physical impacts to closing their doors for good. In today’s digital world, the loss of data or more importantly, the intel the data provides could bring a company to a halt and disrupt service to its constituents and consumers. Businesses need to take proactive measures to plan and ensure quick data recovery and business continuity in case of a disaster.

Generally, When Do Natural Disaster Seasons Occur?
  • Earthquake Season lasts all year
  • Tornado Season is March – July
  • Atlantic & Gulf of Mexico Hurricane Season is June 1 – November 30
    2019 may be a below-average hurricane season, according to the Colorado State University Department of Atmospheric Science Tropical Meteorology.
  • Fire Season is October – January
    California is a danger zone year-round.
Disaster Recovery vs. Business Continuity Planning

In Laserfiche’s Ultimate Guide to Business Continuity Planning, they describe how the disaster recovery and business continuity plans work together as complementary components for an organization’s overall recovery and continuity planning. “Disaster recovery planning (DRP) is chiefly concerned with the recovery of systems and infrastructure components. It is limited in scope to a set of defined IT systems and infrastructure, with the ultimate goal of complete recovery within a defined timeframe and with a minimum of data loss. Because of the heavy emphasis on IT infrastructure, it may exclude non-IT business units such as accounting, marketing, and sales, except in terms of software applications used by these departments. One issue with disaster recovery planning is that, because of the IT focus, incorrect assumptions may be made or subtleties or dependencies that are not hardware or application dependent—such as content management, document retention, and security— may be missed.”

Business continuity planning (BCP) is an attempt to blend the IT emphasis of disaster recovery planning with a larger-scope determination of which business components and functions must be prevented from interruption or, if interrupted, recovered immediately. It is an iterative process designed to identify these mission-critical functions and enact the policies, processes, plans, and procedures that ensure their continuation if an unexpected event were to occur. The exact functions covered by BCP vary by industry and may include processes that are not necessarily software applications. Basically, your organization can have a working disaster recovery plan without a working business continuity plan, but not vice versa.”

Examples of the types of issues that should be considered and planned for when developing your BCP include topics like:

  • Emergency Response Procedures
  • Public Relations & Communications Plans (for Media, Vendors, Staff, and Clients)
  • Damage Assessment & Insurance Claims Processing Information
  • Financial Plans
  • Human Resource Plans
  • Remote Work & Power Outage Plans
  • Information Security & Risk Assessment Plans
  • Cross-training & Determining Who’s Second in Command Staff

What’s the Real Threat? Data Disaster.

Focusing on natural disasters and terrorism diverts attention from the realities of today’s business environment and the deteriorating state of IT infrastructure. Major electronic workflows could stop production in its tracks if the right systems and hardware aren’t in place. So make sure the technology you choose is easy to implement, administer and use.

History Lessons

As history continues to grow each year with the number of natural disasters we have, we build our book of knowledge on how to improve the salvation of information for our work and our personal lives. Digitizing content and storing in cloud backups is the best way to go, especially when everything else is gone, blown away, burned down, flooded or fallen into the center of the earth. We will still have access to that information when it has redundant backups on servers around the world. Imagine how a company like Facebook keeps its platform running when a deadly disaster happens in one area of the world. Think of it like jumping cell phone towers, wherever you go, if there’s a tower, you can connect. Backing up information is the same concept.

As we continue to learn from these history lessons, businesses are proactively putting plans together and conducting dry runs before a disaster hits. Knowing how to handle new situations that arise takes a lot of practice and experience. Didn’t all of those fire drills while we were in school teach us something? The good news is that companies, like MCCi leveraging Laserfiche, assist you to improve your processes by providing worksheets and guidance on how to create and execute a business continuity plan to protect your intellectual capital. Some threats are bigger than natural disasters, like cyber-threats. Cybersecurity is a real, tangible threat to our business and our data. Being able to recover data within a matter of minutes is critical for any business to continue operations.

Putting Cost Into Perspective

The total estimated cost of damages from weather disasters in the U.S. since 1980 is $1.6 trillion!

None of this includes the cost of restoring businesses.

“Consider an off-site, real-time, mirrored failover location on a separate power grid, so that you can continue operations in the event of a power outage or natural disaster localized to your immediate area. Assign back-up roles in case key players are unavailable or missing. Plan for all possible communication issues, including the use of satellite phones, hotlines, and web alerts. Establish accessible spending accounts for employees, make standing lodging arrangements near your recovery site and account for other logistics, like mail delivery and payroll. Plan for extended recoveries, in case business is displaced longer than expected. Keep your organization’s documentation, scripts, and business continuity planning handbook up to date. Provide an alternative method of accessing your data and documents. Be sure all vendor contracts are complete and up to date, including those with providers of media storage, insurance, and fuel. Plan for business continuity, because no one else will do it for you.”*

“Working with communities for preparedness is key,” says Lawren Sinnema, a World Vision emergency affairs program officer. “Because while you can’t entirely reduce risk from disasters, you can alleviate their effects if you are prepared.”

Implementing a Content Services Management Platform

As electronic content management (ECM) turns from solely a scan, archive and retrieve data platform to a content services management (CSM) platform that’s capable of generating business process automation – incorporating artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), robotics process automation (RPA) and more into the equation, it’s necessary to consider how this platform solution will work with legacy systems, enterprise resource planning solutions, and integrate with other software or software as a service (SaaS) systems. Your organization may function at its highest capacity, operationally, even during data disasters, when you have the right solutions in place that can come back online swiftly. Read more about the five steps for adopting a content services platform by the IT Director from the City of Fayetteville, AR, Keith Macedo.

Download Laserfiche's Ultimate Guide to Business Continuity PDF.
Download Laserfiche’s Ultimate Guide to Business Continuity PDF.

Laserfiche provides a worksheet for BCP and Audit Teams within their Ultimate Guide to Business Continuity Planning. We highly recommend downloading this PDF guide and using it to support your organization to prepare for the next data disaster – it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ it will hit.

If you’re interested in learning more about how MCCi may assist your organization to implement a content services solution that will prevent the loss of critical data for your operations to move forward in the aftermath of a disaster, contact us today for a free consultation. 

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