Ruminations

A lot happens before ideas become solutions.




At ElixWare we want to bring you more than just great, affordable software. We want to let you know how and why we do what we do.

Our Ruminations blog will bring you insights into how we got here and some of the things we consider when trying to help you run your business. We hope it gives you a better understanding of how we strive to better serve your needs.

The Spanish Inquisition

Expecting the unexpected

Soft Cushions
One of my favorite Monty Python skits is the Spanish Inquisition sketch with the soft cushions and the comfy chair. It underlines the unexpected nature of the "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition" declarations.

Monty Python exemplified the concept of "expect the unexpected". From their TV shows to their movies (as an ensemble or as individuals), you never knew what was coming. As a fan of Monty Python you were ready for anything, yet they constantly surprised us.

Hard Landings
Not everyone is as lucky as the old woman in the Comfy Chair sketch. Sometimes people fall on hard times, and sometimes hard times fall on you. On July 19th there was a steam pipe explosion in lower Manhattan (I used to work in that neighborhood 25 years ago). Unfortunately for everyone who lives or works in the area, as well as the first responders, asbestos was present in the discharge and debris of the explosion.

As of today, some residents still cannot return to their apartments. When they evacuated they grabbed a few personal items, and their pets, and headed for friends, relatives or hotels. A serious disruption to their lives to say the least, but nothing "life threatening".

Some businesses are still closed, too. And for a small business, this type event can prove catastrophic. Though this type of situation is unexpected, it’s exactly the type of thing a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) and Business Continuity Plan (BCP) are for. DRPs and BCPs come in all shapes and sizes, from the very formal to the informal, and everything in between. At the very least, your business should have and informal DRP and BCP.

What if your business was affected? Would you be ready? What would you be doing right now?

Let’s Get Ready To ...
There are many types of disasters your business may encounter someday. You’ve got your:
  • Acts of God, such as fires, floods, tornados, earthquakes, heatwaves, falling trees, etc.
  • Infrastructure failures, such as gas leaks, building collapse, A/C failures, water main breaks, steam pipe explosions, etc.
  • Accidents, such as vehicles hitting buildings or power poles, smokers setting off fire alarms and sprinklers, someone leaving a space heater on, etc.
  • Technology's revenge, such as your server giving up the ghost, a ransomware attack, thieves stealing your computers, etc.
  • There's also random act of violence and vandalism that allow the elements to wreak havoc inside your place of business.

Much like the beginning of this scene from Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam’s movie Brazil, many small businesses are paperbound. Is your business? How long can your business function without your paper files? An afternoon? A few days? A week? In the case of a disaster, some of your most important papers are your insurance policies, your business licenses and articles of incorporation, property deeds and leases, etc. Where are they right now — now that you can't get to them?

... Stay In Business
There are a lot of parts to a DRP and a BCP, and most businesses don’t have the time, patience or resources to develop full versions of either. But you owe it to yourself, your employees, and the companies you do business with not to get caught flatfooted.

At the very least you should have scans of every important document that you’d need to deal with a disaster and to re-open your business in a new location. These include your insurance, your licenses, your deeds or leases, some of your bank records (including all account numbers) and tax documents (most recent quarterly and annual filings). You should also have a list of your contacts at each of these organizations because you are going to need their help.

You should have a list of service provider names, phone numbers and account numbers. These include any professional services you use (e.g., your accountant and your lawyer), all of your utilities, any shipping or courier services you use (e.g., DHL, FedEx, UPS, USPS, private or industry couriers), any designers or printers you use for stationary, proposals, business cards, etc. Your business relies on these companies every day.

You should have a list of all of your suppliers and clients, and their contact information. You may need to stop impending shipments, cancel pending orders, or get emergency stock of some of the items you get from them. You may need to let your clients know to expect delays (or worse). These are your business partners, and communication is crucial.

And backups. Backups of your important data, especially your accounting data. If you’re not using an online accounting service, then you need to make sure you’ve got daily backups of your accounting data. And your client data. And your historical data. And and and. If your data isn’t in the cloud, you’ll need access to your daily backups — so you should be keeping them offsite. Are you? Every day?

Unlike a Monty Python movie, there's nothing funny about an event that disrupts your business. Even if you do everything right, your business can be negatively impacted by a disaster. And that's no laughing matter.

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We are a small team with a lot of experience, specializing in software development, design, and workflow, process & project management. We are fiercely dedicated to helping you do what you do best — run your business — without getting bogged down in the mountains of paper and hours of screen time required to do it. We are equally dedicated to protecting your privacy and your data. Learn more about our privacy policy.