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Disaster Recovery and you

When viewing your disaster recovery procedures, you’ll often find yourself looking at your backup software. After all, in the information age, much if not most of our valuable property is encapsulated in Intellectual Property (IP), which, you would think, can be easily backed-up.

I quite often serve as the CIO for a customer, and this means that I need to do a top-down evaluation of the IP of a company and determine how to best protect it. And, yes, I find that much of that IP can be easily backed-up to tape or disk. However, a lot of it can’t. At least not initially.

Much of the glue that runs a company–the true IP–is the knowledge of procedures and processes (and day-to-day “gotchas”) that our employees have learned over the years. This is the knowledge that keeps companies running efficiently. It’s also a very dangerous and high risk set of knowledge to us, and we should view it as such.

In the event of a disaster, if our key billing and A/R personnel are unavailable, how long will it take for us to re-learn how to properly issue invoices and collect payment? You would be surprised at the difficulty in this. As a service company, billing is something of an art. But that’s not just an IT issue. Healthcare providers also must jump through hoops to properly bill to and collect from Medicaid and Medicare. There are certain processes and tricks that employees learn.

A very real risk in disaster recovery is the loss of knowledge when employees become unavailable. When only a sub-group of employees know how certain business operations are performed a company is ruled by “tribal knowledge”. Each tribe, or sub-group, then has significant power over the company-that is, they pose a significant risk. And an injury, employee termination, or disaster can eliminate that knowledge from the company. By documenting key processes, we transfer that tribal knowledge to a company-wide knowledge base, which greatly mitigates, and often eliminates, that risk.

And of course it’s much easier to backup a Word doc that contains these processes than employee grey matter.

When reviewing your disaster rec

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