Why COOP matters for small businesses

When you start a new business, you are hyper-focused on all the start-up tasks. Things like licensing, accounting system, hiring, advertising and much more. Once you are up and running, your focus turns to finding customers and generating income.

Every company will require some level of technology in order to communicate with customers, create proposals/quotes, send bills, track your finances, generate leads etc. For a small startup, it could be a cell phone and a computer. For larger companies, you might have several computers and a large amount of data.  What happens when the technology you rely on is gone due to hardware failure, fire or natural disaster?

COOP is an abbreviation for Continuity of Operations Plan. It is a plan that details how you will continue running your business, or recover it, when disaster strikes. The disaster could be something as simple as the computer that you use to run your business dying. It could be something much bigger like your building burning to the ground. Regardless, the important thing is to think about what steps will need to be taken before disaster strikes.

During my time as a Microsoft Field Engineer, I performed technology risk assessment engagements for large enterprise customers and Government agencies. During the engagement we would review the company’s security policies and procedures, operating procedures, and system configuration to determine areas of risk. We would also review their data backup and recovery practices and continuity of operation plans.

I’ve performed hundreds of risk surveys over the years. There were two questions that always gave customers an “aha!” moment. The first; Do you backup your system? The second, Do you test your backups? In other words, do you know for sure your backup was successful and you can restore your critical system from the backup. All customers answered “yes” to the first question. Sadly, only a couple answered “yes” to the second question.

Whether you run your business with a single computer or a whole office full of equipment, you need a plan. You need to review the plan periodically and test as much of it as possible.  You need to store the plan somewhere accessible if your business location goes away. If you would like help with this, schedule an Infrastructure, Security and Continuity of Operations Assessment to get started.