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Charleston Business

How To Navigate Data Disasters And Keep Your Business Running

May 15, 2018 03:44PM ● By David Pence

David Pence and Brad Mathisen AcumenIT Interview

Experts report that 24 percent of all businesses will experience a full data disaster during their lifetime. Furthermore, 70 percent of small to medium-size companies experiencing this will go out of business within 12 months. In our daily lives, we may not realize the ultimate reason why this bank bought that bank, or why this seemingly stable business decided to call it quits. We hear rumors like, “It was a cash flow problem” or “a lack of sales problem.” If you were able to perform a root cause analysis, many times it was the data or lack thereof that pushed the organization to ultimately become non-existent.

Some years ago, a client called us discreetly and explained that their accounting department had meant to perform a “click” and then a “control click” on Client A and then select Client B within their accounting system, thus selecting those two clients. Following this they performed a feature in their accounting system called “merge client.” This took all the data from Client B and made it appear underneath Client A hence removing old mailing addresses and possibly other contacts etc. They did this because Client A notified them that they had purchased Client B and therefore wanted all billing etc., to go to Client A’s accounting department.

These systems do not have the famous “undo” for these types of operations. Rather, they have a pop-up window that reads something to the effect of, “Are you sure?” Once done, it is not undone, and Client B ceases to exist going forward as far as the company is concerned with open invoices and the like.

To compound the problem, our client had over 1000 clients. The bookkeeper did not “click” and then “control click” on Client B, however, clicked and then performed a “shift click.” This had the effect in their case because Client B must have been in a sort order at the bottom of their client list to select all, or nearly all, of its client list. Consequently, the effect was dramatic when the bookkeeper clicked “yes” on the “are you sure?” dialog box. All client invoicing and addressing etc., was combined into the database to one client resulting in all future invoices for the 1000 clients to be set to mail to one address, that of Client A.

What was the resolution? Well, this new Acumen IT client did not have thoroughly tested backups, or a disaster recovery plan, and they did not have a business continuity solution. They simply had someone set up a backup and “maybe” had them look at the backup logs to see if it even completed. The backup logs reported “A-OK” each day. However, there was missed data along with other issues. Because this occurred over a decade prior, fortunately our client happened to have copies of every invoice that were stored in a room full of filing cabinets. They simply hired two temporary personnel who, along with the company’s accounting department, spent 80-hour weeks over a four-month period reconstructing their accounting system from paper records.

Having been a wealthy client who could afford to temporarily put off sending invoices for a few months, they managed their business with cash and credit lines. Subsequently, the accountants spent the following four months catching up on their missed work during those first four months. They did stay in business and are part of the 30 percent of businesses who live. The company would have been fine had they had a Data Security Assessment and a minimal amount of insurance called a BCS (Business Continuity Solution). If that was the scenario, the company would have had less than eight hours of downtime, even 15 minutes if they had chosen to immediately cutover to their insurance.

Today, most companies could not pull paper or even PDF records of all of their customers from the past 20 years. Most would be fairly lost at some point. The cash flow would eventually force a shutdown or immediate sale of the businesses assets while many folks who shake their heads asking, “Why.” This happens every day somewhere in the world and is almost 100 percent avoidable.

The least expensive insurance a business can have is to have someone verify that they have a working business continuity solution in place. And to think of the expense like another layer of insurance, like E&O or Directors and Officers. Protect your investment with Business Continuity Solutions. Be in the 30 percent.