Few Operations Prepared for Disasters

Jan 19, 2011 8:57 PM  By

Most companies are not prepared with an adequate business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) plan. This reality was driven home in a recent study conducted by CDW, a technology products/services provider.

CDW surveyed 200 IT managers at medium and large businesses, across a wide range of industries, who had experienced a significant network disruption (lasting four or more business hours) in the past 12 months.

Respondents were asked about the resulting business impacts and what, if anything, they are doing to improve their operations continuity as a result of their experiences. (According to the report, the survey had a margin of error of +/- 6.9% at a 95% confidence level.)

The top causes of business disruption were loss of power, hardware failure and loss of telecom services, in that order. Here are a few of the findings:

  • Before their most recent disruptions, 82% of respondents believed that their IT resources were “extremely” or “somewhat” prepared to support local business operations effectively from a disruption.
  • Nevertheless, 30% reported that at times, they were unable to operate at all due to a network disruption, and their locations shut down completely.
  • 57% reported productivity loss as the top negative effect of the disruption.
  • 51% experienced problems connecting to their IT network from other locations.
  • 50% had problems connecting to the network from inside their locations.
  • 46% reported that employees could not access the resources required to do their jobs.
  • 97% stated that the disruptions had detrimental effects on their business during the past year.

Businesses generally do a good job of planning, but the survey shows that many clearly need to strengthen their BC/DR plans to identify and eliminate areas of vulnerability.

“While businesses say they are prepared for a network disruption, many are not ready to deal with the most common issues that cause network disruptions” — meaning the top three causes that account for fully 82% of such disruptions, the report concluded. Yet just 34% of respondent companies said that their disruptions had caused them to begin updating their BC/DR plans.

Curt Barry (cbarry@fcbco.com) is president of F. Curtis Barry & Co., a multichannel operations and fulfillment consulting firm.