IT Lessons Businesses Should Learn from Hurricane Irma

Your disaster recovery plan can’t just look good on paper.


Imagine living through a horrendous storm that decimates 90 percent of the structures on your land. That’s exactly what happened to Barbuda in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Puerto Rico is in the middle of a similar humanitarian crisis following a direct hit from Hurricane Maria.

While we fared better on the mainland after Irma, we were still impacted by storm surges, flooding, and damage that left over 2 million Floridians without power for days, even weeks, bringing businesses to a standstill while they waited for disaster recovery teams to hit the streets.

And while the vast majority of businesses have insurance to protect their building and its contents, there are still many that have not created or implemented a disaster recovery plan that addresses data loss – despite the estimate that seventy percent of small businesses that suffer major data loss are out of business within a year.


Hurricane season isn’t over yet…


And even when it is, it’ll return next year. So how do you ensure that your business will continue to run no matter what kind of downtime you experience after a storm?

Have a Plan 

Make prevention the focus. That means you’re not just reactionary. Disaster recovery plans succeed when the majority of the plan is always active. It’s not implemented only when trouble strikes.  Remember, too, that a plan that considers only technology is only a fraction of a plan. Hurricanes and other natural disasters impact people. Technology merely allows them to do their jobs.

Your team will likely be displaced after a natural disaster, and your goal is business continuity. Does your plan have solutions in place for them to operate remotely, including equipment, mobile access to your network, and how that remote access will be secured?

Please Put it in Writing

Hurricanes and other natural disasters bring out the dysfunction in people—and it’s only because these events are stressful. At this point, though, you need your team to take precisely described actions, like a medic who knows exactly what to do in an emergency. They’re able to operate with ruthless efficiency even in that stressful situation because they’ve been trained to do so—you want your team in that same mindset. It’s for this reason that your disaster recovery plan can’t be a general idea.

Please put a copy of it in the hands of every team member. Make this part of an all-hands meeting and devote enough time to it to be satisfied that every employee knows what actions to take if it’s necessary to implement the plan.

Don’t stop the preparatory action there. Test your plan regularly. There are two important benefits:

  1. Your team will actually be prepared, rather than just understanding the theory of preparedness.
  2. As a group, you may also discover ways to improve your plan based on how your organization responds to an imaginary Irma.

Find an IT Partner… Now  

“All the good ones are taken.” It’s a lament we usually ascribe to the perfect spouse—but it also describes what can happen if you go looking for an IT managed service provider just as a hurricane is about to hit or right afterward.

There’s a good reason for this. IT managed service providers—at least the good ones—aren’t reactionary organizations; their work is constant and ongoing. In the event of a natural disaster, their support—and their value—is that they’ll ensure your IT disaster recovery plan gets followed.

In many respects, your IT managed service provider IS your disaster recovery plan. They’ve already become your partner, monitoring, providing preventative maintenance, and a level of proactive support as deep as if they were your own in-house IT team. Constant preparation for events like hurricanes is part of their SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). This includes redundant back-ups to ensure that whatever else is lost, your data won’t be.

 The Cost-Effective Approach to Protection 

Implementing an effective disaster recovery plan could be expensive. This is because the “plan” must have ongoing and proactive efforts in place. It’s not a get-away vehicle parked outside. It’s a helicopter on the pad with rotors whirling, constantly running, and ready to take off at a moment’s notice.

This puts a disaster recovery plan out of reach for many small businesses. Or even medium-sized businesses. Besides the cost of ongoing proactive efforts, there’s finding and retaining the technical skillsets.

 Affordability is achieved when you work with a managed service provider

An MSP’s robust infrastructure removes the critical shortcomings you may have in your technology stack. They have the technical expertise to create solutions for the day-to-day operations of your business, as well as the occasional Irma-size problems that would otherwise mortally wound you.

An MSP’s most powerful tool is the technology-based version of what created Irma. Yes, the cloud. As your partner, cloud-based platforms make sure your business always has the technology horsepower it needs to take a tactical leap forward—or pull back quickly for a wise retreat. These cloud-based solutions mean fewer physical weak points can be impacted by hurricanes or other natural disasters.

But you can’t wait until a disaster happens to get support. Now is the time to start looking for an IT provider that can partner with you to put a disaster recovery plan in place and maintain it, so it’s ready if and when you need it.

We kept our clients’ data safe and their operations running after Hurricane Irma. But we’ll let them tell you in their own words:

“I often do not respond to the ‘how have we done’ emails after calls, just as a function of time. You deserve some feedback after last week.

I must point out your and your team’s professionalism, organization, and preparation for the host of issues from these power failures and interferences in work, especially during a time you must deal with your own family and preparation. You had thought ahead, and we felt very safe with our data and network.

Thank you for being a part of our business!”

“Just a quick note to say thank you for getting our Boca office up and running so quickly this morning. I was expecting much worse when I got here.”

“Thanks again for your help through this storm and particularly after!”

Need help planning for a hurricane?

We’ll help you identify & implement key disaster recovery components so that you can recover quickly and efficiently as possible.

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