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Disaster recovery guidelines for web design firms


Web design companies are to the fore of the revolution in new media and e-commerce, but with success and growth comes increasing exposure to risk, and if you run a web design company, do not assume that your business is somehow immune to the risks posed by a natural disaster or extreme weather event. 

You will undoubtedly be aware of the increase in recent years in extreme weather events and the disruption they cause. In the US, such events as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012 were of an extreme magnitude, resulting in loss of life and large-scale destruction.

Disruption to the economy is an obvious effect of extreme weather events, and Hurricane Sandy forced the closure of the New York Stock Exchange for two days. However, the impact of an emergency event can be even greater on a small business, which may not be adequately prepared to deal with such a situation.

As a small business owner in the web design sector, it is your responsibility to have in place an adequately resourced plan to deal with emergency events. The UK Government has published online detailed advice on emergency preparation for extreme events, including advice on business continuity management. When it comes to disaster preparation, ensuring the safety of your staff is the first priority, and it is important that all employees are fully aware of what to do in the event of an emergency.

After your members of staff have been made safe, your business data is the next point of concern. A storm or flood, to give just two examples of an extreme event, can cause enormous damage to equipment, and in the case of a web design firm, this means IT equipment and servers.  Ensure that all critical data, especially that relating to clients, is backed up. A cloud-based backup solution is a worthwhile investment.   

You should also purchase disaster insurance to help insure against the cost of recovering from an emergency situation. It may be necessary to purchase additional cover from that already in place because business insurance policies may not necessarily cover an extreme event or disaster.

When it comes to preparation for emergency situations, you can look no further than Black Umbrella. A specialist in customised emergency/safety plans, Black Umbrella is the brainchild of Catherine Hooper, who, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, identified the critical importance of having a back-up plan for emergencies. Readers of “The Madoff Chronicles”, ABC journalist Brian Ross’ account of how investment manager Bernie Madoff perpetuated one of the largest frauds in US history, may be familiar with Hooper as the fiancée of the late Andrew Madoff, Bernie’s son.

As someone with direct experience of the fallout from a disastrous event, having seen Andrew Madoff and his brother Mark report their father’s actions to federal agents, Hooper recognises the challenges in trying to recover from any type of emergency situation. 

It was Benjamin Franklin who said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Any web design firm that fails to prepare properly for the fallout from an extreme event runs the risk of complete failure – a situation from which it might never recover.