Johnny on the Spot

By eweek  |  Posted 2001-02-19

No matter what procedures are actually laid out in your customers recovery plans, you almost invariably will end up being the first one called when a disaster actually strikes. In the chaos of the moment, your customer will want an expert on hand, and as far as theyre concerned, thats you. Handled well, serving as an on-the-spot response coordinator can create tremendous opportunities, both to provide value to your client and to maintain a continuing revenue stream. Handled poorly, it provides only the chance to make a bad situation worse.

First and most importantly, be certain to clearly and explicitly enumerate your post-incident role, authority and responsibilities within the plan itself, even if that only means specifying that you will have no role. (Theyll call you anyway, but at least then you have an excuse to turn them away if necessary.) Almost every business will want to maintain at least one internal employee as a responsible and accountable party during the process, creating tremendous potential for clashes. There is little or nothing less useful in a crisis situation than political turf wars and finger-pointing.

It is also crucial to keep the clients expectations realistic. Keep in mind that under the circumstances, you cannot expect the client to be overjoyed with any realistic outcome—the best you can hope for is relief that the costs and damage are less than they might otherwise have been. Overselling yourself or your plan will only set you up as a target for the clients blame and frustration.

In the same vein, keep the client aware of limitations in the scope of your preparations. No matter how well-constructed, a plan focused on the loss of a facility may not translate well into a power-outage situation, and vice versa. Similarly, a plan focused on specific pieces of technology may be rendered moot if the entire infrastructure around them is destroyed.

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