Hurricane Sandy - How Protected is Your Business?

1 November 2012 12:00
As daylight breaks on Wednesday 31st November 2012, the inhabitants of the Western coastline of the Atlantic start to wake up to assess the full impact of Hurricane Sandy.

The human cost of Hurricane Sandy is incomprehensible.  Deaths; human displacement; utility severances - nations wanting to start the rebuild of their physical and emotional lives. Our prayers are with them.

The business cost is insurmountable - but at least calculable.

The New York NASDAQ Stock Market closed for 2 consecutive days - the first time it has closed due to weather conditions since 1888.  According to the BBC News, the Huffington PostGizmodoBuzzFeed and Gawker Media all had their websites down due to power blackouts or flooding at their server centres.

How, in 2012, do these major players in the media and financial sectors get so affected by a natural disaster?

On a personal front, one of First Train's clients has their on-line payment system hosted in Boston, US.  The Boston server was knocked out and its payments site in Australia went down meaning that customers could not make donations to the charity.

A lot of buisnesses would save a lot of money in lost revenue if only they had a effective Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) in place.  A DRP needs to simply and comprehensively lay out the organisation's plans for getting the front facing operational business functions back up on its feet and working again within 24 hours of a natural or man-made disaster.

One organisation that First Train's Director, Christopher Brooks, helped implement a DRP for was with The Intelligent Investor.

It was realised that both the Directors lived close to each other in a desirable coastal area in Sydney.  It was decided that one of them should move far enough away from the other so if anything did happen, the business could still function. 
An assessment of the business systems was then carried out and it was discussed how the organisation could get back on its feet within 24 hours.  It was decided that a backup of data was taken off-site each night by an individual not living close to the office (it was a small business then).
It was then identified that if the main office went off-line, then there was another computer centre that could be set up with a re-direction of the telephone number and suite of e-mail addresses, to enable them to be up and running within 24 hours.

This was not rocket science - just common sense and an assessment of risk to employees, the successful continuation of the business and the least disruption to paying customers. 
It's now 2012.  We live in a global technological world.  Communication is measured in micro-seconds.  Why are we still facing a suspension of businesses simply due to an adverse weather condition.  Plan, plan, plan is the answer.
In the banking crash, it was thought that big businesses were too big to fail.  If Hurricane Sandy has taught us anything, it is that in reality big business is too big to carry on in the face of a natural or man-made disaster.

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