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March 19, 2018 On the record

Cushnoc Resiliency Advisors helps companies recover from 'business disasters'

Photo / Fred J. Field Patrick R. Dunn, president and director of consulting at Cushnoc Resiliency Advisors in Augusta, says every business needs a disaster recovery/business continuity plan.

Patrick R. Dunn, a Gardiner native, recently returned to Maine and is president of Cushnoc Resiliency Advisors in Augusta, which helps position businesses for disaster recovery — anything from a cyberattack to a flooded basement.

Patrick Dunn lives in Augusta with his wife, Lucie, and their two dogs. He recently sat down with Mainebiz.

Mainebiz: What's a business 'disaster,' and how do you position businesses to recover?

Patrick Dunn: A disaster in business is any event in which a business suffers an unexpected interruption to normal operations for a significant period of time. How 'significant period of time' is defined depends on the business. For example, a bank may suffer an interruption, and because they are regulated, the significant business interruption may be minutes. A small retail operation may experience an [internet] outage for several hours or a day with no significant impact to their operations. Cushnoc Resiliency positions a company to recover by helping them prepare for 'what ifs' from a technology, people and process perspective, which allows to plan for and test scenarios for the interruption.

MB: You recently moved back to central Maine after living around the country, including the Atlanta area. Do disaster recovery needs in Maine differ from the rest of the country?

PD: The common thread with all regions of the country is technology. All companies, regardless of location, need to be prepared for technology or infrastructure outages. The differences between the regions of country are weather events. Whereas in the south the chief weather concern is tornadoes, here in Maine it's flooding, wind and other winter weather events. From a weather perspective, Maine is fortunate not to have the severe tornadoes that exist in other regions.

MB: What's the No. 1 concern for most Maine businesses that you talk to?

PD: The No. 1 concern for most of the businesses I talk to from a [business continuity and disaster recovery] perspective is cyber terrorism, followed closely by supply chain, vendor and technical infrastructure concerns.

MB: What should the No. 1 concern be?

PD: It depends on your business model. Generally speaking though, businesses should be concerned about their technical infrastructure availability and supply chain points of failure. The reality is that any business should be concerned about any interruption that causes a loss of significant revenue or results in a fine or penalty.

MB: What's the biggest mistaken assumption businesses have about their ability to weather a disaster?

PD: Without a doubt the worst assumption is that the key people will be available at the time of disaster to execute the recovery plan and initiate recovery. Those key people are the ones most likely to be unavailable, which is why it's important to have a documented and current disaster recovery/business continuity (DR/BC) plan.

MB: If there's only one thing a business does to prepare for disaster, what should it be?

PD: Write down your key suppliers-vendors and their contact information and create a checklist of things to do when a what-if event happens. And keep it at home in a secure place (like a fire or security box) other than your business location.

MB: How did you get involved in disaster recovery?

PD: I started in disaster recovery before it was called disaster recovery. I started off as systems administrator at Wellington Management Co. in Boston, and was responsible for backup and recovery as part of my job. I was responsible for hundreds of systems, so in order to keep track of everything I had to document the procedures. These were the first true disaster recovery plans, back in the early 1990s. In truth though, if I look back at my first career as a ranger for the National Park Service, we were required to have evacuation plans in place for the parks and had to have the ability to continue operations in the event of any major weather event. So that was probably my first taste of disaster planning without realizing it at the time.

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