This past weekend I was helping my son’s class run a fundraiser during a basketball game so I was out in the hallway outside of the gym for most of the game. During halftime, I found myself talking with a sheriff deputy who was there for the game about the training they have to do for situations at schools we hope never happen. We talked about how much they practice, how real they try to make it, and how scary it must be for kids and teachers that have to face these situations in reality. In the end, much of what we do is expecting the best, but still preparing for the worst-case scenario.

The truth is, practicing something over and over again really doesn’t make you perfect, but it can make you prepared. Whether it’s working on procedures when disaster strikes or preparing for a natural disaster, knowing what to expect, practicing your response, and identifying weak spots in your plan are key areas we can make ourselves more prepared in many areas of life.

The same can be said about many areas of technology in our businesses. Are we sitting by, hoping disaster never strikes? Expecting our employees to steer clear of bogus links in emails? Hoping no one ever brings in a USB stick from home that has a virus waiting to strike on it? Using the school emergency analogy – how can we put these plans into practice using drills, tests, and practice scenarios? 

Having the knowledge that your data is backed up to the cloud is great, but when your server crashes and you’re told it will take a week to download all of that data back down or that you need to pay an extra $5,000 for expedited service from your provider, will you be caught off guard? The same head knowledge goes only so far in day-to-day scenarios… how will your business continue to operate when your files are taken ransom and encrypted until you pay?

The best strategy is only as good as its ability to be executed. It may seem like a costly and time-consuming effort, but a business continuity plan that includes an annual drill can spotlight weak points that must be corrected, pain points that may simply have to be lived with, or even areas of overkill where resources can be redirected.

I’d encourage you to reach out to your technology partner and ask them how they’d like to put their plan to the test. These teams are often asked to trim all the excess they can from budgets, and practicing a plan they hope to never need is one of the first things to go. Providing some resources to put the plan to the test not only builds confidence but can also save large amounts of downtime and unexpected expense down the road.

Written by Chet Cromer for publication in the Business Leader