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August 2010 - Network Innovations

20 Aug

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National Preparedness Month

August 20, 2010 | By | No Comments

September is National Preparedness Month, so I thought this would be a good time to talk about Backup, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity.

First, it’s important to define these terms and understand how they fit together:

Backup, ensuring that a copy of your data is available for retrieval both onsite and offsite, is an IT function and is only part of a disaster recovery plan.

Disaster Recovery is a process and set of procedures that prepare for recovery or continuation of your technology infrastructure after a natural or human-induced disaster.  A Disaster Recovery plan is also typically an IT function, and it is one element of a larger business continuity plan.  Disaster Recovery plans typically assume that your facility will not be available.

Business Continuity is an ongoing exercise performed by an organization to ensure that critical business functions will be available to customers, suppliers, regulators, and other entities that must have access to those functions.   Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is a management function that involves all aspects of a business, from personnel to facilities to IT.   Health & Safety issues, power supply, transportation, food, and facilities issues all fall within business continuity.

Every business should put at least some effort towards creating a Business Continuity Plan (BCP).  Give me a call and I would be glad to help you with your plans.  In the meantime, let me share a few tips that can jumpstart your plans:

  • Backup:  A revolution in backup, a Backup & Disaster Recovery (BDR) device is now available for a small monthly fee.  This solution entails installing a “backup” server at your office.  It backs up all of your servers as often as every 15 minutes throughout the day.  You can recovery files quickly at anytime.  However, if one of your servers crashes, we can “virtualize” the most recent backup on the backup server, and have it back up and running in about an hour.  The crashed server can then be repaired under normal rather than emergency circumstances.  The BDR continues backing up even while standing in for your crashed server, so once your server is repaired, we simply restore the most recent backup and you are back to normal operation.  Further, the BDR sends your data offsite nightly to two secure locations.  In the event of a disaster,  a new BDR will be overnighted with your data already loaded.  We can virtualize your server(s) and have you running in a new location as soon as the delivery is received.
  • Disaster Recovery:  We partner with a national disaster recovery service that can address the 4 primary disaster related issues:  Power, Technology, Space & Connectivity, with facilities and equipment staged throughout the US.  For only $295 per month, you are prepared to recover from any disaster, small or large.  For example, if a critical server crashes, we can provide a loaner.  If your Internet connection is cut, we can provide high speed satellite backup.  During an ice storm, you may simply need a generator.  In case of a large scale disaster, we can provide a fully running office with servers, 48 desks equipped with PCs and telephones, full power and connectivity within 48 hours, guaranteed.
  • Business Continuity:  Lack of communication will cripple any business.  Create an emergency communication plan today:  Designate a person in another geographic region to serve as your emergency communication point of contact (POC).  This could be a friend, relative or partner – we use a vendor based in California.  Print business cards with full POC contact information and distribute to all employees to carry in their wallet.  In case of an emergency, if employees can not make contact with the office, they are to contact the emergency POC to check in, report their situation, and receive further instructions (could be check back in 12 hours, report to the office at noon, etc).  Want to show your key clients that you are a step ahead of the competition?  Provide them with your emergency POC information as well, and they will know they can count on you when they are in trouble.

02 Aug

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Business Planning

August 2, 2010 | By | No Comments

First, good news/bad news:  Today the National Bureau for Economic Research officially declared that the “Great Recession” (the longest recession since the Great Depression”) ended in June 2009.  If everyone wants to go  out and spend again like it is 2007 again that would be fine with me!  The bad news:  The last double dip recession was in 80-82.  In July of 1981 they declared the official end to the 1980 depression as July of 1980.  July of 81 turned out to be the month that the second dip officially started.   The uncertainty is certainly wearing on us all, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

Fall is the time to start planning for next year.  This quarter my HTG peer group decided we all would take on the task of creating a brand new business plan from scratch, using the methodology of Verne Harnish, the “Growth Guru” and noted author of “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits”.

When our group chose this task, I think i groaned out load.  For one thing, this type of introspection and planning is just not my cup of tea.   For another, like many of you, my time in 2010 has been spent working “in” the business rather than working on the business, doing my best to keep sales going during these tough times.  The last thing I need to do is take time away from sales for strategic planning, I thought.  I’m glad to say that I was wrong.  I put off my homework for step one until 9 pm the night before it was due.  Once I started the exercise, I actually found new energy.  It was refreshing to take a step back and look at things from a new vantage point.   I enjoyed the process and woke up the next morning excited for our group conference call.  If you’ve been stuck in a rut this year, make some time to stop and put your business owner’s hat on!

Our first step in this process is to define your core values and beliefs.  This is the way you see the world; the guiding principles that determine how you run your business and make decisions.  While your “vision” for the company may change over time, and certainly your mix of services provided will change as you adjust to your market, your core values NEVER change.  They are part of your core makeup and keep you on track.  I’ll list my core beliefs below.

Next is to define your company vision.  Most companies already have a vision statement, and if you don’t you should.  Your vision is the picture of what you imagine your life and business to be when things are exactly the way you want them.  Your vision should inspire your employees to execute this blueprint every day.

The last task in our first step is creation of a BHAG.  This is a Big Hairy Audacious Goal that looks down the road 10-30 years.  This BHAG connects your core values and gives you a target that will be hard to achieve.  Some examples of successful BHAGS:  In the 1960s, Nike’s BHAG was “crush Adidas”.  In the 1950’s, Sony’s BHAG was “Our name will be as well-known as any in the world, will signify innovation and quality, and ‘Made in Japan’ will mean something fine, not something shoddy”.

I’m still tweaking our vision and BHAG, and will share those later.  Here are our core values & beliefs at Network Innovations:

Innovation – we know there is always a better way to do something and are determined to find it

Passion – we believe in ourselves, we take pride in our work, we care about our clients, and we LOVE what we do

Integrity – we are honest and fair in all that we do

Teamwork – we are fair and expend all efforts to help our peers, our clients and our community

Service – we execute each day by putting others first

Amy and I are busy putting the finishes touches on our Walk for Food Allergy which is this Saturday at 9 am in Shawnee.  For more info, click here:   Nate’s walk page.

For more of my rambling thoughts, check out my blog.