The Rest of the Story

Several columns ago, I wrote of my personal encounters, for the first time, with disaster recovery. After having spent 30+ years in the computer field, and assuming that disaster recovery entailed no more than memorizing several lines that started with “Our Father…,” I was hit with the reality of the consequences of NOT having a formal, up to date, well thought out disaster recovery plan.

After spending 10+ months creating and installing a plan to insure that our $4 billion per year, e-commerce oriented operation would be able to rapidly recover from any form of disaster, I was welcomed into the world of reality—the world of business continuity. By most people's definition, disaster recovery entails being able to recover the computer end of your enterprise—period. What I overlooked was the rest of the story, i.e., completing the loop that insures a complete enterprise recovery as soon as possible following a disaster.

While attending a recent disaster recovery/business continuity conference, I learned that I have many more miles to travel before I can honestly look the CEO in the face and say, "We are prepared." My mentor in my last three month relearning period has been Scott Ream, president of Virtual Corporation, a technology consulting firm located in Flanders, N.J. and Seattle, Wash. ( (new window)). This six year old organization specializes in business continuity management, IT/business alignment and technology planning and deployment.

The rest of the story means completing the loop that insures a complete enterprise recovery as soon as possible following a disaster.
As an aside, I met Scott, first in an e-mail conversation and later in person, as a result of inquiring about his new book concerning the proper implementation of a business continuity management program. Scott surprised me by offering to let me be an editor of his soon-to-be-released book, with the purpose of offering the “not yet educated” view.

One of the major lessons learned, relative to not being done, can be summarized by Scott's description of how business continuity is an adjunct of disaster recovery. “Business continuity management enhances a company’s investment in disaster recovery by ensuring that all critical resources are considered in a principled and practical business continuity program. Simply put, business continuity strengthens a disaster recovery program.” Scott founded Virtual—after a 20 year career as a process consultant—realizing that business continuity was not being treated as an enterprise business process, lacking senior management commitment, and in general was and still is, poorly disciplined as a business practice.

Most importantly, the single question that Scott asked of me, which I’ll in turn ask of my readership (especially those responsible for telling their CEO, “We are prepared, don’t worry, be happy!”) is, in Scott's words, “What is the significance of the IT organization ensuring the recovery of technology availability if the business functions that use it aren't prepared to recover the other critical resources necessary to do their jobs, (such as workspace, phones, critical files, supplies, office equipment, local data not backed up to central servers or anywhere for that matter). There are few businesses where if you only recover the technical platform, the business will survive, but that’s rare. Most businesses use technology in conjunction with other resources to complete their business functions.”

As a favor to those of you involved in bringing back a bricks and mortar or e-commerce operation, let me suggest that you take the time to learn the rest of the story. Scott Ream welcomes direct questions and dialogue. I encourage you to take him up on it. He can be reached at or at 800.944.8478.

Bob Lewis is VP of IT at he Unified Foodservice Purchasing Cooperative (Louisville, Ky.).

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