Sell 'fear' factor to get disaster recovery funds

Disaster recovery planning is like insurance - you buy it hoping you'll never need it - so IT executives can best sell it to the board of directors using the approach that sells insurance: fear and emotion.

IT managers trying to get approval from the board for IT budgets for disaster recovery and business continuity initiatives need to get "creative", according to Paul Massiglia, technical director of engineering for storage service provider Veritas.

Speaking at the launch in Sydney on Thursday of his book, The Resilient Enterprise -- which he co-edited with Evan Marcus and which Veritas published -- Massiglia related tales from CIOs of large enterprises in the US whose businesses quickly recovered from the events of September 11.

"Disaster recovery is like insurance, you spend the money but you hope you never get a return on it," Massiglia said.

Meta Group research director Dr Kevin McIsaac, also at the launch, said IT is weak "in selling resiliency to executives" and IT managers need to employ insurance salesman tactics in order to show the value of IT and receive funds for disaster recovery planning.

"IT is a business inside of a business," he said. "IT's job is to articulate risks and costs."

When presenting the disaster recovery business case to executives, McIsaac recommend IT execs:

* establish the value of the IT assets;

* establish the risks;

* present a portfolio of solutions with a range of costs versus risks.

McIsaac said, "IT should not shoulder the responsibility for making cost versus risk choices. You want to go to the business with a range of choices. Make the business wear the cost versus risk straight off.

"Fear and emotion is the way you sell these kind of things. You've got to get [the directors] where it counts," he said.

"You need to move yourself from a mere supplier of technology to that of a strategic partner. If you're only a supplier of technology, then you are merely a commodity in the eyes of the business. If the business doesn't like you, they'll outsource. If you're a supplier, then terms are dictated to you," McIsaac said.

Massiglia cited the example of Patrick Gambaro, CIO of commodity trading exchange New York Board of Trade.

After bombings, in 1993, in the basement of the World Trade Centre highlighted flaws in the board's disaster recovery plan, Gambaro proposed a dedicated hot recovery site to the board, but had to negotiate with consultants and the data centre a few times before a plan was accepted.

He got creative when fitting out the new site. When the board was due for an upgrade on his own initiative, Gambaro put the retired hardware to work as backup at the new site instead of recycling or donating it.

His foresight paid off on September 11, when the New York Board of Trade completed its disaster recovery processes by 8pm that night and was ready for trading again.

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