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Irma, Harvey, Katrina, Sandy – these are names which remind us that natural disasters are devastating, not just for private citizens but for the businesses that serve those affected communities. Business continuity and disaster recovery are important considerations in any successful business, but our American “can-do” optimism can often lead us to overlook the need to plan for disaster. Any well-run business carries insurance, but beyond paying a premium, there are other ways to mitigate the effects of a natural disaster so you can carry on business afterwards.

Disaster recovery is most often associated with IT, but it also applies to facilities management, logistics, HR – every facet of a business. A disaster recovery plan is a subset of a business continuity plan, which is itself a proactive approach to maintaining smooth operations in the face of the unexpected – for example, having a backup generator in case of a sudden loss of power. Disaster recovery is reactive, taking action after the fact – i.e., switching on the generator when you lose power.

Your choice of storage system can have a significant impact on your business continuity and disaster recovery plan:

  • Data and records storage – Can essential paper documents and backup drives be retrieved and moved to safety? Who will execute that task, and how?
  • Inventory management – Are inventory records accurate, for insurance claims? Do you have an automated system that keeps inventory records up to date?
  • Logistics – How is the supply chain likely to be affected? Do you have a space-efficient storage system that lets you increase capacity in the safe zone?

Texas supermarket chain H-E-B put their disaster recovery plan into immediate action in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. H-E-B president Scott McClelland, a veteran of Gulf Coast disasters, kept 70% of H-E-B’s stores open and stocked in the immediate aftermath of record floods. It was a remarkable achievement, but it was no accident that H-E-B was well prepared, as McClelland relates in an interview with LinkedIn’s Chip Cutter. H-E-B’s disaster recovery plan included the establishment of command centers in unaffected areas, and coordinating with suppliers to stockpile essential items prior to the storm.

H-E-B’s proactive approach to a catastrophic event let them keep their doors open to continue serving the community. Storing stockpiled inventory was part of that plan. When you’re considering your organization’s storage needs, it’s wise to include your own business continuity and disaster recovery plan in your storage system choices.


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