The Beginning of Autumn and Business Continuity

Tomorrow marks the first day of autumn: a season with falling leaves, cooler weather and an abundance of pumpkins. Many are using this time to prepare for the upcoming holidays, but the season itself can serve as a reminder to look at your business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) efforts.

In many ways, autumn and business continuity are alike. In case you don't see the similarities right off the bat, we've listed some below.

Continuous Changes


Business people walking amongst Autumn treesDuring autumn, it's well known that the leaves and temperature change along with the length of days, but what's less prominent is the fact that the starting date of the season shifts from year to year. The first day of autumn constantly changes between September 22 and 23, due to the amount of time it takes the earth to orbit the sun. It even occurs on September 24 every 372 years.

Much like autumn, your business experiences constant changes. Because of these changes, your BC/DR strategies must adapt to fit your business's evolving needs. As a company grows from a small business to a mid-size or large business, it requires different approaches to staying operational during a disaster. Consulting professional business continuity planners on a regular basis will ensure that your efforts match your needs.

Equal Measures


In Latin, the term "equinox" means "equal night," which is a reference to the nearly equal amount of sunlight and darkness on the day of the autumnal equinox. This half-and-half relationship reminds us of the equal importance of planning and testing a BC/DR plan.

Planning for a disaster involves more than thinking about what you might do in case of an emergency. A concrete plan must be created and distributed among your organization. By doing so, when you experience a business interruption, you can simply reference and enact your plan instead of trying to recall from memory what you thought would be best.

Planning is most valuable when it's backed up by testing. Testing reveals problems with your plan before a disaster occurs. It's important to test before you have to implement your plan so you can fill the gaps before you're recovering from a catastrophe.

Harvests and Storage


Autumn is well known for being the harvest season. In the same way that people and animals gather food and store it for the bitter winter approaching, your business should collect important company data and store it in case disaster strikes.

The cloud is a good option for storing information because it allows your data to be secured off-site so you can still access it during a disaster. Instead of losing important data in a disaster, your business will be able to access it quickly and recover with minimal damage.

To make sure you don't miss anything critical in your BC/DR plan, download our disaster recovery checklist.

[INFOGRAPHIC] Data Management in the Cloud Era

Did you know that 70 percent of businesses are managing data in the cloud? If you're still not sure about using cloud services, check out this infographic by our partner, CommVault, to see how businesses are using the cloud.

CommVault cloud data management infographic

If you'd like to learn more about implementing cloud recovery solutions, check out this post.

Businesses That Made a Difference After the Napa Earthquake

Photo by James Gunn via Flickr / Creative Commons License
One hundred red-tagged homes and businesses. More than 200 injured people. Seventy thousand customers without power. This was the aftermath of the 6.0 magnitude earthquake that left Napa Valley in shambles at 3:20 a.m. on August 24.

Yet despite the turmoil, the community banded together to repair the damage wrought on the places they lived and worked. Several businesses, some with damage to their own facilities, stepped forward to help residents get back on their feet again, whether by responding to emergency calls or simply serving coffee.

Pacific Gas and Electric


When 70,000 customers lost power after the earthquake, Pacific Gas and Electric (PGE) worked tirelessly to restore it. Within days of the quake, all customers were back on the grid. PGE also announced on its website that it would conduct gas safety checks at homes and businesses throughout the affected area.

Napa Public Works


After Napa sustained 90 water line leaks, Napa Public Works worked overnight to repair eight of them.

Napa Fire Department


During the first 30 hours after the 3:20 a.m. earthquake, the Napa Fire Department responded to more than 360 service calls, including 92 possible gas leaks, 50 downed power lines and 50 fires.

Queen of the Valley Medical Center


Despite sustaining structural damage to an administrative building and power loss, the Queen of the Valley Medical Center relied on backup generators to reopen its doors. The facility set up two triage tents Sunday night and resumed normal operations on Monday, allowing staff to treat the 200-plus patients that sustained injuries from the quake.

North Napa Post Office


With its facility out of commission due to damage, the North Napa post office set up a tent as a temporary mail drop-off and P.O. box pickup station so residents could still send and receive mail.

Home Depot


The damage to Napa’s local Home Depot store was not as bad as other area businesses, so the company hooked up a generator and opened as usual on Sunday morning. As residents worked to repair the damage to their homes, Home Depot’s emergency order of cleanup supplies such as water heater parts, fittings, garbage bags and water shovels flew off the shelves.

The company also supplied trucks filled with water, garbage cans and bags to a crew of about 40 people, who went house to house helping residents.

Javco Window and Glass


In downtown Napa, the buildings' storefront windows were no match for the earthquake. Employees of Javco Window and Glass spent two days replacing their own damaged glass supply and then helping nearby businesses board up and assess the damage to their broken windows and frames.

VisitNapaValley.com


Napa businesses rely heavily on tourism, so the tourism website VisitNapaValley.com immediately updated its site with information about businesses that had reported they were open. By having this information readily available, tourists were able to determine if they could move forward with vacations they’d previously planned.

Alexis Baking Company


Alexis Baking Company, a local bakery known to residents as ABC, was fortunate enough to have its power restored quickly. When the owner came in to clean up her facility, she decided to set out free pastries and coffee for the community as a way to give back.

It’s organizations like these that demonstrate how having a good disaster recovery plan helps not only the business itself but the community as well. This is not a comprehensive list, however. There are many other unsung heroes helping pull Napa back together. If you know of one, share their story with us in the comments!

Learning From Japan’s Disaster Recovery Strategies

"Post-disaster settings provide opportunities to examine the effectiveness of leadership in mobilizing people and resources in highly dynamic situations." 
— Hirotaka Takeuchi, Harvard Professor of Management Practice

Building surrounded by rubble after the Tohoku earthquakeForbes recently published a story about a Harvard MBA program that allows students to travel around the world exchanging knowledge with leaders at businesses of all sizes, from mom-and-pop shops to mega-corporations.

A subset of this program, called the Immersion Experience Program (IXP), sends about 30 students to Japan annually. There, the students learn how local businesses exercised disaster preparedness and recovery after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

Here are some key takeaways we gleaned from the write-up about the students’ trip to Japan this year:
  • True resiliency revolves around a comprehensive recovery strategy as well as entrepreneurial innovation.
  • Disaster recovery involves adapting to the needs of the community, not just increasing profitability.
  • Successful CEOs pursue the business’s goals even when faced with adversity.

Read the full article here.

September Is National Preparedness Month

This month is FEMA's National Preparedness Month, which aims to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to all types of emergencies, including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.

Prepared, not unprepared.Although we write a lot about emergency preparedness for businesses, being prepared for the unexpected is just as important on a personal level as it is on a business level.

This month, be sure to emphasize the importance of observing the four key steps of being prepared for an emergency:
  • Be informed.
  • Make a plan.
  • Build a kit.
  • Get involved.

Here are three ways you can encourage your employees to prepare for emergencies:

How are you promoting emergency preparedness at your business this month?

[INFOGRAPHIC] Tornadoes: The Power to Destroy Everything

The United States alone experiences approximately 75 percent of the world's known tornadoes, which can occur at any time of the year (if conditions are right).

Check out The Weather Channel's infographic to see how many tornadoes travel through your area each year.


Now that you know the average annual tornadoes in your area, here are some steps that you can take to make sure your business is prepared.

Could Your Business Survive a Sinkhole?

Road damaged by a sinkholeWith nearly 300 ground depressions since 2010, sinkholes are a way of life for Floridians. Due to the thick layers of limestone underneath the entire state that are slowly being eroded by acid rainwater, residents along the East Coast are all too familiar with these rapidly forming holes.

Of course, you should be aware that sinkholes are not limited to Florida. They can be found in about 20 percent of the U.S. in states such as Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.

Residents and businesses located in these areas were alerted to the financial and physical damage that sinkholes can cause when in early 2014, eight classic corvettes at the National Corvette Museum disappeared into a 30-foot deep hole within seconds. (You can watch the video here.)

Disaster events such as this one may seem mysterious and unpredictable, but there are some warning signs to look for to help protect your business and your employees.

Warning Signs of a Sinkhole 

  • Fresh cracks in the foundation of your building 
  • Doors and windows that fail to shut properly (that previously did so) 
  • Small cracks in the ground around your business 
  • Trees that start to lean 
  • Circular patches of wilting vegetation
  • New ponds that form after it rains 
Though watching for these warning signs will help you identify a cave-in before it occurs, you still might be caught off guard by a sinkhole. Here's what to do if a sinkhole forms in or around your business.

What to Do If a Sinkhole Forms 

  • Call emergency officials immediately. 
  • Place colorful tape/rope around the ground depression to warn others of the sinkhole. 
  • Keep your employees away from the hole. Property owners can be held liable if someone is injured because of negligence. 
  • Have a disaster recovery plan in place to prepare for sinkholes (especially if they force you to set up temporary office space in a safer location).

Want to know how to prepare your business for similar unexpected disasters? Check out how to survive the longest day of the year.