There is no question that the secure, reliable retention of data is absolutely critical to good business operations – and, of course, that includes the ability to recover your data in the event of a disaster. Consequently, more businesses are prioritizing their data backup procedures including regular verification of data integrity and disciplined off-site storage of backup media. Yet, businesses are finding that even with rock solid procedures, there are still many areas of concern. Here are a few of the most prominent concerns:
Traditional Onsite Backup Issues
- Media (tapes or drives) must be tested regularly to ensure data integrity
- Reliability – most onsite backup systems (software & hardware) fail to backup all of your data. Often a few corrupt files, or an open database connection can derail the backup process
- Lifespan – a quality backup system will last between 2 and 4 years depending on the quality
- Maintenance – In order to have confidence in the backup system it needs to be maintained regularly.
- Security – For any given onsite backup solution, there needs to be an off-site option. Often, this amounts to an employee taking the backup media home with them. Obviously, this presents significant data security concerns – especially if the employee needs to be terminated at some point.
Make no mistake, onsite backup is a good thing – it’s just that there are some undeniable drawbacks. Consequently, more businesses are turning to automated offsite backup as a solution (i.e. backing up to the cloud). The one notable drawback is that you have an ongoing monthly cost, yet the advantages often outweigh the concerns about ongoing cost – especially considering the fact that costs have fallen significantly over the past 12 to 18 months. And the operational benefits are undeniable:
Benefits of Offsite Backup
- Security – Encrypted data transfer means that automated offsite backup is often far more secure the traditional onsite backup
- Automation – No switching tapes, drives, or transporting backup media to other locations
- Reliability – Today’s online backup systems are highly reliable.
- Retention – retaining data for more than two weeks is easy to accomplish, and for even longer retention periods, offsite backup is significantly less expensive than onsite data storage
Like all technologies, backing data up to the cloud isn’t for everyone. And even if you do decide to invest in cloud-based backup, it doesn’t mean you need to abandon your onsite backup. In fact, having some onsite backup never hurts because when it comes to your data, you have to be 100% certain that you can recover what you need when you need to recover it.
Though WordPerfect isn’t prevalent within most industries, it is still relatively common within the legal community. Many of these firms would like to switch to Word, but don’t want to eat the software, lost productivity, and training costs. Very understandable. But the reasons for moving to Word are growing by the day. As such (and since ITP works with so many law firms) I thought it might be valuable to post a recipe for switching from WordPerfect to Word that many firms have found successful…
Though every firm is different, ITP recommends the following general process for moving from WordPerfect to Word. The transition is rarely seamless due to the inherent differences between the two programs, but following the process below can be instrumental in minimizing downtime and lost productivity.
- Assemble a project team or lead person that will manage the transition.
- Identify your key documents – Forms, templates, and other routinely-accessed documents are critical to your firm’s productivity. Ensuring they are available and functional immediately following the move to Word is key to keeping production high and limiting user frustration.
- Identify other document automation tools – besides forms and templates, macros, other software, and user-defined tools such as keyboard shortcuts and mail merges are also important to identify.
- Review options – There are always new software and tools that hit the market every year. Review your document automation options and decide upon the best tool (or mix of tools) for your firm.
- Planning & communication – develop a plan and timeline and then communicate that to your staff.
- Convert documents – Convert your forms and templates into Word format and test.
- Develop your training schedule – review your needs and the capabilities of your staff, and then develop a training plan specific to your needs.
- Purchase quick reference guides – No matter how much you invest in training, your staff won’t be able to retain all of it when they begin using Word. Quick reference guides can be a great tool for keeping productivity high and reducing user frustration.
- Training – Unless your staff is particularly familiar with Word, investing in at least two training sessions for each staff member (1 basic & 1 intermediate session) is recommended. Training sessions should be kept to 90 minutes or less in duration. Hands-on training is best for retention, but classroom-style training is often used because it is far less expensive and far less disruptive to operations.
- Walk-around Support – Schedule some time for supporting staff members with their specific problems. This can be scheduled as onsite or remote service.
- Remove WordPerfect from your systems – This step isn’t always necessary, and often WordPerfect can only be removed after some time has passed, but in most cases if staff members have access to WordPerfect, they will continue to use it.