ProAdvisor Blog

Hurricanes and IT – Would you be ready?

Posted on | Posted in News & Updates

At Mendelson Consulting, we have a large number of clients in Florida. When Hurricane Matthew (A category 4 hurricane) came barreling down on the state, it forced many businesses (including our own) to jump into disaster preparedness planning mode (or better phrased, “business continuity plan”). It is a good lesson for every business to check plans before a disaster. The advice is: make sure your business is ready to “weather the storm” – sometimes literally.

First, realize that as your technology changes, so should your plan. Not too long ago, we would backup to tape or big external hard drives. Now there are online backups and small solid-state drives with large capacity. As you implement new technology and systems, check if you are backing up the right data folders or the entire drive partition. Determine what you should be backing up in terms of the scope of files and what you want to restore. Next, check your backups; we saw one situation where the backup drive filled up and it wasn’t adding current backup, so, they did not have backups of recent data. The next and very important item is to test you can restore files from the backup. We have seen many sorts of issues when trying to get a file back. Best to test this before you really need it.

Second, make sure you QuickBooks data is safe. If you use QuickBooks Online (QBO), this is easy because it is part of the system. QBO is hosted on Intuit servers and they take care of things for you. The Intuit server cloud uses redundant systems in specially designed data centers to provide near-constant uptime. If you use QuickBooks Desktop, then it depends if your server is hosted or running on a server in your office. Again, with a hosted server, part of your monthly fee is paying for the commercial host provider to maintain the server availability of your system. If you have a server at your office (“onsite”), then you are responsible for this. With the hurricane, some clients were looking at unplugging their equipment, wrapping them in plastic and taking them to higher ground! Another risk is the power lines may go down and there is no power to run your IT. Our IT specialists can help you designing the right methods to protect your data and provide availability and uptime.

Third, make sure your communications are setup to stay in touch with customers, vendors, employees, and other stakeholders. For our email, we use Office365. This is hosted my Microsoft, so we do not rely on access to an office server for email, meaning that our staff are able to still access email should there be an outage at the office. We had team members located across the state to monitor emails from our clients when the hurricane was bearing down on our main office.

Taking the right steps before the real disaster is the best way to “survive the storm”. Use this time to check your own preparations and absolutely let us know when you want the assurance of our specialists reviewing your systems and infrastructure.

…CHRIS                                                                                                                                                          

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About the Author: Chris Fraser

Chris Fraser CPA.CITP, CISA, CGMA has over 20 years of business technology and IT risk management consulting experience. He specializes in accounting systems, business process improvement, CIO services, risk management, design, implementation, integration and support of IT systems, business technology and IT assurance services. Chris earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and his MBA at the University of Florida. Chris has been a speaker several times for the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He has served a member of the Board of Governors of the Florida Institute of CPAs. He served as a member on the FICPA Finance and Office Advisory committee. He served as chair of the FICPA Business Technology Section and the 2008 Business Technology Conference chair. Chris was a founding member of the young CPA committee and task force member, chaired the membership task force, served on the communications task force, and wrote several articles for CPA Today magazine. He leads the CITP State champions and is a member of the American Institute of CPA’s Certified IT Professional (CITP) Credential Committee. 

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