Should You Worry About Your Payroll Service Going Down?

Posted by on November 29, 2012 in Business Technology [ 0 Comments ]

Should You Worry About Your Payroll Service Going DownEvery business should have a disaster recovery plan. But with payroll companies, a disaster recovery plan is even more critical. Think about it: when a flood, hurricane, or other natural disaster hits, a payroll company could be taken down at the exact time when employees need their paychecks the most. Hurricane Sandy, which hit New Jersey and New York last month, clearly demonstrated the importance of IT disaster recovery plans.

LI Advantage Payroll and Other Victims of Hurricane Sandy

LI Advantage Payroll, a popular payroll service provider, was temporarily knocked out of service after the storm, but rallied quickly and encouraged clients to confirm ACH payments with their banks and report any further problems. LI Advantage was hardly alone, however. Popular websites including Gawker, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and MarketWatch were all down for a while when physical plant facility fuel tanks and pumps were flooded.

BuzzFeed’s Disaster Recovery Plan

BuzzFeed was one of the sites that was offline for a shorter period of time due to utilization of their disaster recovery plan. After 2011’s Hurricane Irene, BuzzFeed commissioned a data center located offsite to replicate all content in near-real time, and they had recently started using Akamai to cache content. After Sandy, BuzzFeed moved its data to Amazon Web Services and restored the site relatively quickly.

Consider Your Payroll Provider’s Disaster Recovery Plan

If you outsource your business’s payroll services, create a plan for recapturing input and uploads if your payroll provider goes offline. This will help you get checks to people as quickly as possible. Before signing on with a payroll service (or if you already have one), get answers to the following questions:

  • How do they back up data?
  • What is their plan for restoring lost data?
  • Will my business have to reconstruct data to get paychecks ready on time?

If you’re wondering what a payroll disaster recovery plan should look like, the San Diego County Office of Education has a specific disaster recovery plan for their payroll functions that can give you an idea what needs to be done to help ensure that checks go out on schedule.

The Disaster Recovery Plan for Your Business

Your business, no matter how small, needs its own disaster recovery plan too. It should include the following:

  • Identification of primary assets you need for business continuity after disaster
  • Secure data storage
  • Regularly tested data backup
  • Offsite backup and secondary backup 50 miles or more from the primary location
  • A staffing plan if temporary relocation is necessary

As more business functions become cloud-sourced, recovery should become simpler. In fact, top cloud services often market their products based on data redundancy and strong backup practices.

Keep in mind that companies that provide your payroll or other services may not be geographically near you, so a disaster in your immediate region may not affect your outsourced services. Conversely, a disaster far away from you could cause problems, as clients of LI Advantage across the U.S. learned after Sandy. When you create the disaster recovery plan for your own business, you need to take into account your on-premises disaster recovery as well as disaster plans of any companies to which you outsource services.

Photo Credit: David Shankbone

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