Tech Tip: Make your new budget work for disaster recovery

Learn how to make your new budget work for disaster recovery.

By Mike Talon

The beginning of a new year creates many new challenges. We face starting over with new budgets, and we once again begin the process of developing and working on new projects.

In most companies, January is a month famous (or infamous) for a time in which management hands down new corporate edicts and policies to the masses. Unfortunately, that means it's also the time of the year when companies create new corporate policies that no one has any intention of enforcing.

Disaster recovery projects are one of the largest offenders when it comes to "Do it now, but don't really do it" issues. Companies want to look like they're doing something when it comes to DR, but not all companies are really committed to introducing the necessary hardware and software (and possibly even staff) required to properly implement the solutions they need.

For smaller shops, this generally isn't a huge issue--no one has the time to research projects that the budget guys aren't serious about. But in enterprise-level companies, the tech department is only one of many divisions that usually finds itself burdened with projects that may never completely see a successful conclusion.

How do you know if the latest screams coming from the boardroom are real, or if it's just a lot of noise to give the outward appearance that something is going to--eventually--be done? You need to be able to differentiate between projects the organization is truly serious about and those that the powers-that-be feel are necessary for appearances' sake. There are certain telltale signs that you'll find a budget at the end of the rainbow and others that show you'll find nothing but dirt.

Regulations that demand your company be in compliance with requests coming from the top brass are a good sign. Several major regulatory agencies have recently enacted new regulations, calling for many new DR projects to spring into life. Likewise, if your DR project has been a long-term, incrementally implemented project, and the new edict is a continuation of that project, you probably won't have trouble getting the necessary funds.

Something else to look for is a predetermined budget number to work with. If the CFO hands you a defined amount that you can spend, you're more likely to get the cash you need. Conversely, if you can't get hard numbers out of the accountants, you probably won't get hard currency out of them either.

Finally, anything that's a knee-jerk reaction to a news story or some other sensational event is almost definitely a nonstarter. Attempts to generate a marketing response rather than a real solution almost never receive funding on the technology side of the house.

So how do you combat bad projects? Use your staff for more important matters, and do the minimal amount of work required to keep upper management happy. You can also try to use this opportunity to push for real budget numbers, so you can turn these whims around and use them to create real projects for the DR technology you desperately need in your organization.

Mike Talon is an IT consultant and freelance journalist who has worked for both traditional businesses and dot-com startups.