« Continuity of Operations Planning

Assessing the true cost of a disaster

There are a plethora of hidden costs that add up over time following a crisis and resulting downtime that can catch a firm by surprise.
There are a plethora of hidden costs that add up over time following a crisis and resulting downtime that can catch a firm by surprise.

A natural disaster has obvious, immediate costs for a small business, from property damage to worker injuries. However, there are a plethora of hidden costs that add up over time following a crisis and resulting downtime that can catch a firm by surprise. Becoming aware of these risks will allow businesses to assess the true cost of a disaster, and develop a stronger continuity of operations plan to avoid them.

According to TechRadar, one of the primary challenges changing business continuity planning today is technology. More companies are going online, into the cloud and mobile, generating new opportunities, but also new risks. Smaller crises, remote disasters and power outages all have a more profound effect on continuity than ever before, and firms have to learn to cope with them.

For example, a five minute Google crash in August of 2013 caused nearly a 40 percent drop in global internet traffic, the news source reported. This accounts for lost sales, primarily, but other risks for businesses that run many of their services using Google servers and API.

Even five minutes of downtime can have a massive effect on a business. The immediate worries are data loss, shrinking productivity and lost sales. However – if there's a power surge, some systems could be damaged. Furthermore, a natural disaster at a cloud service provider could take essential applications down before a business even knows about it – halting work for seemingly no reason. This cuts into brand reputation and, ultimately, a company's bottom line. Sales could continue to fall, or at least not rise back to their previous numbers, or a business could end up becoming vulnerable to security flaws because of the downtime.

Whatever the cause, businesses have to become more aware of the risks they face. Investing in the proper disaster recovery consulting can help align goals with reality and take every potential circumstance into consideration.