disaster recovery

It turns out describing business continuity and disaster recovery to a 7 year old was easy: I’m like a doctor for businesses.

I was chatting with my boss the other day, and he said, “My daughter asked me last night, ‘What do you do, Daddy?’ You know, it stumped me for a minute. After all, if you’re an architect or a librarian or a teacher or a writer, it’s easy to explain it to a kid. But how do you explain that you work for a BC/DR firm specializing in organizational resiliency? Children don’t know what business continuity or disaster recovery are, or why a company would need either one.”

Having a few peers and relatives who do not understand what BC/DR is, I was curious. “What did you tell her?” I asked.

“I gave her a very simple analogy,” he replied. “I told her I’m like a doctor. But instead of treating people, I treat companies.”

And you know what? That says it all.

The Annual Checkup

What do doctors do? Well, a lot of the time, they do checkups. They do some tests to figure out how you’re doing, if you’re healthy, and whether there are any deficiencies or problems.

In the same way, companies need to have checkups for their operational health. This is the business impact analysis, or BIA. The BIA provides answers to questions such as:

  • What are your mission-critical operations, applications, and processes?
  • Have you protected those things adequately?
  • How would an incident or interruption impact your business operationally? Financially? Legally? Socially?
  • Where are your biggest risks and threats?
  • What would your priorities be in a recovery situation?
  • What dependencies exist within your organization?
  • What are the recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs)? Are they achievable with the current BC/DR procedures?

Processes, procedures, communications, systems, applications, availability, personnel … it’s all examined in a good BIA. And remember, just like you need a checkup at regular intervals, your company needs a BIA regularly, too. Things can change in the health of your company – a BIA will alert you to anything that needs your attention.

The Wellness Program

Doctors also help people establish wellness programs for good health. Diet, exercise, rest … it all comes together to form a comprehensive plan for overall strength and well-being. A wellness program not only can help someone become healthy and stay healthy, but also helps them recover faster if they become ill or injured, because they are working from a good foundation.

A business continuity (BC) program is the wellness equivalent for companies. The goal of a BC program is to keep the company strong – able to perform daily operations effortlessly, and able to recover quickly should an interruption occur. To do so, BC programs address such areas as:

  • Security management to protect the company against cyber-attacks and to comply with industry or federal regulations.
  • Document management to provide for continuity and accessibility of information.
  • Change management to ensure that changes in personnel, applications, systems, and procedures are all reflected in the BC/DR plan.
  • Communications management to guarantee that personnel can be contacted and can contact others in the event of a disaster.

With a healthy BC program in place, incidents that have the potential to become major interruptions can often be handled with minimal impact to daily operations.

The 911 Call

Then there are emergency room doctors. Doctors who handle the crises that truly take you out of commission. These are men and women who work fast to get a handle on the trauma and to start reversing often devastating effects.

In the same way, BC/DR experts are called in at the moment of disaster. They may be in-house personnel or staff from a managed services provider. Regardless, their goal is the same:

  • To prioritize what needs to be treated first.
  • To mobilize and coordinate key personnel.
  • To stabilize mission-critical operations.
  • To restore full business operations to normal.

Is It Time to See the Doctor?

The great thing, of course, is that annual checkups and wellness programs can minimize the possibility for a 911 call – for companies as well as for people. Many crises can be avoided entirely if a business concentrates on maintaining good health on a daily basis. And if a crisis is unavoidable (as some always are), then the BC program will be able to mitigate the effects of the incident.

If you’re not sure what would happen to your company in a 911 type of emergency, then it’s probably wise to make an appointment with your BC/DR doctor. Get a checkup. Focus on strengthening yourself with a solid wellness program. Remember, there’s a lot of truth in the old adage: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

Related Business Solution:  Business Continuity

This blog was originally published on Forbes.com