By Dale Rockell, State Manager NSW, Compu-Stor

Business interruption can take many forms and can happen to any business irrespective of size or business model set up. The effects would largely be the same, potentially damaging your franchise, business reputation, respect to customers and suppliers, and even threatening the survival of your business.

Most modern businesses back up computer systems and customer data to avoid the disaster that would ensue if your server crashed and the data was unrecoverable. The inconvenience and financial costs of lost data would be felt immediately, while the ongoing headache of not having past documents and files could impact the business for months, perhaps even years.

But where do you store your data backups? Onsite, filed away at home or with the books? Is it well protected against fire, theft, damage or exposure to harmful environmental conditions? And what about your printed archives and files? What if your office was flooded or damaged, could you recover from the loss?

Many Australian and international franchises with business in Australia have gone to great lengths to become ISO accredited, an internationally recognised marquee of excellence. With ISO accreditation comes a set of guidelines on disaster recovery processes which recommends that businesses store backup data at a recognised and approved storage provider.

Business Continuity Management provides a planned approach to the recovery of a business which has been affected by a business interruption and can help minimise the impact on employees, customers and reputation.

An important part of building a business continuity plan should include data crisis management and a data recovery plan.

So what is the best way for a business to protect against a data crisis and still have access to business critical files and information?

Cloud storage is changing the face of data protection and disaster recovery, and there are an increasing number of cloud storage or online backup services available.  There are a range of free cloud storage services the offer limited amount of free storage and users are prompted to purchase extra storage. These cloud services are great for photos and sharing files, however as with most services, you get what you pay for. For valuable business documents and customer information, an enterprise level storage with high level security and encryption should be investigated.

There are a second range of cloud storage offerings in the local market targeted much more towards business, focusing on delivering virtual servers for files and high levels of security. These products have dedicated local storage centres and can fulfil industry and government compliance around critical data and records storage.

However, cloud storage is not necessarily a records management system, it simply allows you to store your records. More robust records management systems are developed over many years experience in understand how records need to be accessed and a lot of time is spent in ensuring easy retrieval of information in a logical and easy to use manner.

Essentially, the cloud’s core function is storage, while document management’s core function is organisation, operation, and preservation.

In choosing the level of importance to place on document storage and data retrieval, ask yourself one thing – can I afford to lose those documents? For most business, the answer is no, information and records are key to delivering for customers and suppliers.

The function of an information management system is to deliver efficient and time sensitive access to information, allowing for files of any type to be stored and easily retrieved. A good information management system also facilitates workflow and collaboration, with documents and information being able to be updated in real time by multiple users.