Watching the news most evenings will show that the world in which we live can be a very fragile place. As well as the tragic human suffering that occurs, natural disasters, as well as terrorist actions, crippling weather conditions and civil unrest, can place a great strain on businesses of all types, especially in these complicated economic times. With data now arguably regarded by many event professionals as a key strategic asset, now is the time to consider how to save your event data from potential disaster, and ensure that your event data plan can be regarded as a strategic asset.
1- Discover what event data you own
It is rare for any organisation to hold all of their information in one central depository. Instead, the reality often encompasses several different databases, legacy systems, Excel spreadsheets and Access databases. Not all of your information will be electronically stored. What is in your filing cabinets, paper records, and the minds of your employees? Also, don’t forget the information held in laptops and other mobile devices.
2 – Formulate an event data recovery plan
Begin by defining what is the most important information needed by your business to run your event effectively, and how quickly this needs to be recovered. This could take the form of emails, applications, databases etc. Determine who within the organisation needs to decide when to implement the plan, and how notice of a disaster will be communicated to delegates, venues, speakers, suppliers and other relevant parties.
3 – Keep your plan current
Things change rapidly in business, and there is nothing more rapid changing than the relevance and quality of your event data. Ensure that on a regular basis someone has the responsibility to investigate if your recovery plan is still relevant and if new event data sources should be added to the plan. Make sure that there is a way of regularly evaluating what event data your organisation holds too.
4 – Test your plan regularly
A disaster plan is by its very definition likely to be implemented under times of stress and confusion. Therefore, it is important that you run full and regular tests of your plan which include both recovering and making ready for use all data and systems that you require. Regular testing will also make for a more efficient recovery process as people become more familiar with what is required of them, and gives you the opportunity to improve the plan before any disaster occurs.
5 – Back-up your event data off-site
Many disasters such as flood, fire or terrorist action may destroy entire buildings so backing up your event data on-site may not be such a good idea. Make sure that your data is backed up off site, somewhere safe and secure, and that it can be transferred back to you securely and quickly in times of crisis. Many companies perform this sort of back-up once a day, but for critical data, it may be worth adopting some sort of ‘continuous data protection.’
6 – Check your back-ups
Whether you are using tape back-up or disk systems, it is important to make sure that your back-ups are actually working effectively on a daily basis. Back-ups should be checked to ensure they fully replicate your data, and in a way that can be effectively retrieved. There is no point having your event data backed-up if, come an emergency, it cannot be retrieved.
7 – Consider mobile devices
Make sure you have a policy where event data stored on mobile devices such as phones, laptops and USB sticks is regularly backed up and make sure this policy is followed. It may be worth considering software that automatically does this.