Business Continuity Project Reuse Laptops for Recovery

This information is from my new book, The Ultimate Business Continuity Success Guide: How to Build Real-World Resilience and Unleash Exciting New Value Streams. Happily it is now Amazon’s #1 searched business continuity book. I hope you enjoy the chapter. and the book.

Business Continuity Tips, Techniques and Secrets

Business Continuity Project Reuse Laptops for Recovery

I am guessing your company refreshes laptops every 3-5 years or replaces them at ‘end-of-life’. I doubt too many of you are still using Osborne 1’s or Compaq 35 pound ‘luggables’ at this stage (been there, done that.) Possibly your organization is migrating sales people from laptops to tablets and there are hundreds or thousands of laptops being returned (also been there, done that).

Why not try using these as recovery laptops during a disruptive event. Ok, some may not be usable, some you may have to ‘bump up the RAM’-  but the value of these machines in cost savings and RTO benefits will be significant over buying new machines that hopefully will never be used.

Feeding the ability to use slightly older laptops for recovery purposes is the mass migration in recent years of enterprise systems running from the cloud rather than from local machines. This provides many advantages for business resilience. For laptop recover it means they often do not require top of the line configurations to keep the business going in a disaster. Perhaps, they can be used a stopgap until an alternate recovery site is available.  This can mean the difference between a <1 hour RTO realization and a 24 or 48 hour RTO realization.

In a fire scenario, your employees will hopefully evacuate quickly and according to protocol, as the safety team and you have trained them to do. They must never waste any time trying to get their laptops on the way out. Having backup laptops can be critical to your meeting your business recovery requirements.

Imagine, the fire department is on the scene in your parking lot and advises that the building has sustained significant damage and is uninhabitable. It is unsafe for anyone to go back in to retrieve anything. Everyone is standing at the rally point. Your Senior Vice President’s next question is directed point blank to you – ‘hey <<your name goes here>> what is the recovery plan?’

Now, remember, all of the laptops are in the building and have already melted. Many users have work-from-home as their primary recovery strategy – but no machines. Hmmm, interesting!

Well, hopefully you have a 3rd party recovery site or a sister site in which you can recover. Unless you have a nearby hot site, employees may not be able to get to the 3rd party site until the next day or the second day following declaration. It depends on many factors such as distance, care for children or parents and your service level agreement (SLA) with the vendor. A critical question arises, do you have enough spare laptops at your disposal to support work-from-home or to work at a sister-site to keep the business going?

Perhaps after reading this book you wisely look into utilizing all of those returned, fairly new laptops.

  1. You have IT image them
  2. You test them
  3. You have employees test them
  4. You store them in a secure location

Congratulations, today those laptops are going to make you a hero! No don’t thank me – thank you.

I have successfully implemented this strategy a number of times at enterprise, mid-size and small companies. In one case, for an enterprise sized company, we used hundreds of returned laptops. The estimated savings was $411,000+ the first year, with similar recurring savings every 4 years. We stored the laptops in strategic locations. The laptops were available for multiple sites in case of a disruptive event, getting us even more ‘bang for the buck’.

Maybe, to get started, poke around a bit (or better yet a byte), talk to management, talk to IT, talk to purchasing and see if there are some laptops you can leverage for business continuity purposes. You very well may find there are lots of laptops sitting in closets collecting dust. You may also be pleasantly surprised by managements’ enthusiastic reaction to you creatively protecting the business AND saving them significant money!

Tip – If you cannot find in-house recovery laptops you may want to consider using Chromebooks. I have had great success with these off-the-shelf extremely inexpensive laptops. They do not have much power but for your purposes you may not need a beast of a machine. Speak with your information technology department about testing Chromebooks to see if they can do the job.

If you give this a try or are using this strategy already, please let me know. Good luck!

I hope you enjoyed the information in this chapter. We go into a lot more detail in The Ultimate Continuity Success Guide. In fact, this is only one of 112 chapters packed with 1001 tips, techniques, ideas and those important lessons-learned. Have fun and please contact me with any questions!