If you are in business, you plan. It’s what you do – Part 1

No, this isn’t a Geico commercial, though few would not recognize the reference to the popular “It’s What You Do” advertising campaign that the insurance carrier has been running since 2014.

If you are in business, you plan. It’s what you do. Very true. You may be in business, but you probably won’t stay in business very long if you don’t plan. For new products. For next year’s enrollment. For budgeting future income and expenses. For replacing worn-out or fully-depreciated vehicles or buses. For just about everything that you need to do to maintain a healthy business. And for one thing that can protect your business from a catastrophic demise: disaster recovery.

The March 4th edition of the Dallas Business Journal carried an article entitled, “Five Ways to Get Ahead by Planning for the Worst” in which it listed five critical areas which need to be addressed in any disaster recovery plan. The first area cited is an area that, in many organizations, is only partially protected – a company’s files and data. I say “partially protected” because, while most organizations are diligent about backing up their data, these backups often provide only a partial solution. In addition, these same organizations, which are so diligent about backing up their data, are often leaving their physical files, documents, and records wide open to complete destruction.

In this, the first segment of a two-part post, I’d like to address the latter exposure – that of an organization’s physical files, documents, and records. When I am discussing this topic with a business, school district or other organization, the first questions I ask are, “If your daily backups protect and restore your data, and your insurance policies protect and replace your assets and property, what protects and recovers your physical files, documents, and business records? And what about the 50, 75, or 100 years’ worth of student records in your storeroom that you are legally mandated to retain?” These critical business assets are only one fire, flood, tornado, or disgruntled former employee away from being lost forever. That’s right, not every disaster is a natural disaster; many are man-made. The worst part is, in a natural disaster – say a fire or flood – you may experience a partial loss, e.g., “just” the files and records in one campus, but the man-made disasters created by hackers or disgruntled former employees are designed to completely obliterate their targets.

There is also another disaster that can be created in the wake of the first disaster – one that is rarely considered. Imagine that your business, school district, or medical practice is hit by a tornado. Your buildings are damaged and your customer/student/patient records are gone. Where did they go? In a fire, they are typically destroyed by the fire itself, or by the water used to extinguish the blaze. That is not the case in a tornado; your documents and records are, for the most part, still intact. Somewhere. All of those sensitive documents, with customers’ credit card numbers, student social security numbers & FERPA-protected information, or HIPAA-protected patient records, are scattered across the county, just waiting to be picked up by the wrong person. Don’t think for a minute that, simply because it was a natural disaster (and not negligence) which caused this sensitive information to be compromised, that you have a “get out of jail free” card. Au contraire, mon ami. The responsibility to protect this information includes protecting it from natural disasters as well. If you are dealing with replacing, restoring, and rebuilding in the aftermath of a disaster, do you really need to worry about compromised records, too?

At a minimum, heed the Dallas Business Journal’s advice, and “digitize your paper records so they can be stored along with your critical electronic data.” For a more complete solution, a document management system like DocumentLOK can provide the final piece to your comprehensive disaster recovery plan. If you would like to learn how, check out out new website at www.BullValleySoftware.com, then call us at 815-788-1888, or email us at SalesAdmin@BullValleySoftware.com; we’ll be happy to answer your questions.