The CPSR Introduction
To Disaster Recovery Planning
If some unforeseeable
disaster befalls your business and there was nothing you
can do about it then it is an act of God and not your
fault. On the other hand, if the disaster was
foreseeablebut fully or partially avoidable, then you may
be fairly criticized for not fulfilling your
responsibilities. In the past, many of us were able to
fulfill our planning responsibilities with a two level
approach. Misfortunes that happen every day, or
frequently, are the things we learn to handle. If you
handle them well, you can prosper despite adversity.
Misfortunes that occur only rarely, we could
insureagainst. Fire, flood, major theft and the like. Y2K
seems to be an uncommonly rare event, occurring only once
in history. Yet there is nothing uncertain about it
coming. Nevertheless, most of the bad things that could
happen to you around the year 2000 could also happen any
time. We might as well get some benefit from this awful
event and use it to build up disaster plans that need not
have anything at all to do with the year 2000.
In today's world, the
standards for business managers have been raised.
Insurance companies are rejecting coverage of risks that
they accepted in the past. Investors are also less
forgiving and not so ready to take an act of God as an
excuse. The modern manager must do a more thorough job of
planning than his/her predecessors. "But", you
say, "it sounds like an impossibly hard job to think
of every eventuality and to make a plan for each. I would
never finish." That would be true, except for two
things. First, you can use a ready made checklist of
common risks. CPSR is prepared to help you by publishing
our own small business risk checklist as part of this
survival guide. Secondly, we apply the technique of
tri·age (trê-äzh¹, trê¹äzh´) noun
1.) A process for sorting injured people
into groups based on their need for or likely benefit
from immediate medical treatment. Triage is used on the
battlefield, at disaster sites, and in hospital emergency
rooms when limited medical resources must be allocated. 2.)
A system used to allocate a scarce commodity, such as
food, only to those capable of deriving the greatest
benefit from it.
The way we will use triage
here is to identify those things on the checklist which
could happen to you and which could endanger your
business' survival should they occur. In corporate speak,
these are the so-called mission critical items. If you
loose a mission critical item, your organization looses
its capability to perform its mission. Applying
triage to the ready made checklist should leave you with
a manageably small list of mission critical items which
you must add to your own business' plan. The rest is up
A simple example might
help. United Parcel Service (UPS) is the major
provider of parcel delivery services in the USA.
Suppose UPS were to go out on strike for one month?
Is that event mission critical to your business?
Your answer depends on the nature of your business.
Perhaps you don't use package delivery services very much
and the event would only be an annoyance. Perhaps
you run a mail order catalog and package delivery is
essential to your core function, then package delivery is
critical to you. A two day strike may not be so
bad, but if the strike continued for a month, then your
customers might find new catalog suppliers who are not
dependent on UPS and be lost to you forever. If the
event is critical to your mission you must make a backup
plant to allow your business to survive it if
possible. There really is no choice. It
would be awful to be asked, "If UPS goes on strike,
will we go bankrupt?", if you have not thought it
through yourself in advance.
One final point. Once you
have a disaster recovery plan for your business, be sure
to share it with your employees, and be sure to review it
and update it once in a while. Make it earn a return on
your investment, by becoming the instrument to use to
focus attention on, "What makes my business
tick", from time to time.