We're making a list - hope you're checking it twice!
Before you take a break and relax for the holidays, don't leave your clients hanging like stockings on the hearth. As the New Year approaches, be proactive and use this time to reconnect with clients about their backup and disaster recovery (BDR) needs. The last thing you want while you're away is to field a frantic call from an important customer complaining that a server went down, preventing them from accessing key data (see this poem I wrote back in 2012). While you're at it, get a jumpstart on 2016 BDR sales by analyzing your current portfolio of clients and identifying new opportunities.
In order to help you close out Q4 and prepare for the coming year, we've compiled a checklist of BDR action items that are sure to land you on your clients' "nice" list:
1. Inventory Your Customers
First, you have to ask yourself the following:
- Do all of your customers have a business continuity solution?
- What BDR are they currently using and how old is the equipment?
- Will they need to upgrade in 2016?
You can't create goals if you don't establish a baseline. Reviewing your client base will give you insight on which gaps you need to fill. If a sizable percentage isn't fully taking advantage of your business continuity offering and needs to be, that's money you're leaving on the table. Resolve to educate these clients on the cost of downtime, a very real business problem that impacts their bottom line when using the wrong BDR solution. As we approach 2016, focus on building a targeted sales and marketing program, setting benchmarks for how many endpoints you need to reach in order to meet your revenue goal for the year.
2. Make Sure Every Site has Successful Backups
Better safe than sorry! Before you write your BDR client wish list for 2016 and tie a bow on 2015, don't forget about those of your clients who are already using your BDR platform. Is everything working as it should be? Don't just assume it is. Run hardware diagnostics and file system checks on protected servers to ensure there are no hardware issues. Then, run hardware diagnostics on BDR appliances to check if they're healthy. Double-check that offsite backups are not lagging behind, and if they are, increase the bandwidth so the most recent backups are offsite in case of a DR scenario. Finally, verify that local backups are not corrupted. NOTE: Backups replicated to the cloud are only as healthy as your local backups.
3. Update Disaster Recovery (DR) Plans
Do you have a DR plan for each customer? If not, you really should start planning to implement these in 2016. As we learned in 3 Steps to BDR Sales Success: Part 3, you can also win over prospects who don't have a DR plan with their current backup provider. By leveraging your knowledge of existing clients and your own capacities, you can provide them with the right BDR solution and demonstrate that you're the MSP that will keep their data protected.
If you do have a DR plan, check to make sure all the information is complete and accurate for each client. Also, keep the local administrator credentials, DSRM mode credentials (if applicable), domain administrator credentials and root credentials handy.
4. Run at Least One Successful Site DR Test for Every Customer
Test backups at a minimum of once per year. Backed up data is only useful if you can restore it! Don’t assume that your backups will magically work when disaster strikes.
Don’t forget to record the DR test findings for future reference. Once the successful DR is complete, update the DR plan with the latest information. Note if workarounds were used to get any standby virtual machines working, and if there were any procedures that end-users may have to run on their machines to connect to the standby environment.
5. Run through Current DR Plans with Your Customers
Always maintain transparency with clients. Just as you hold quarterly business reviews (QBRs) to track progress toward goals and discuss service level agreements (SLAs), share your DR plans with customers. Update and distribute contact lists and make sure end-users/site managers know whom to contact to initiate a real DR. Do your support teams have the updated contact info of the individuals who should be alerted in case of a DR execution? They should. Additionally, all sites should have an evacuation plan in the event of an emergency. Lastly, rely on your customers to strengthen your DR plans by conducting mock drills. When it comes to the safety of your data, your end users need you, and you need them!
These tasks may seem daunting, but they are critical to keeping businesses up and running in the event of a true disaster scenario. Your customers will thank you a million ways to Sunday for taking the time to ensure that their backups are working, offsite testing is being performed and a solid communication plan is in place. Losing data is painful and usually, end-users don't consider the worst-case scenario until they actually experience it. It’s your duty as their trusted advisor to educate them on the consequences of delaying DR planning and testing.
The year is ending. Have you had this discussion with them yet?
By Gretchen Hoffman