Eight Steps To Prepare For Business Disruptions

Summer Storms, Crazy Weather Highlight Need To Be Prepared

With the crazy weather we’ve been experiencing the past few weeks, now is the perfect time for your business to put together a basic disaster planning and recovery plan.

Here are some key points to consider:

1. Prevention costs less than recovery, and it’s faster.

When a disaster occurs, one of the first questions asked after the smoke clears (or the debris is cleared) is how it could have been avoided. That’s the prevention component – and the issue for most businesses is when they want to answer that question, and how much they are willing to spend to avoid a major disruption to their business.

2. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Our professional recommendation is to spread “vital” operations across more than one location if at all possible. Full backups should be performed every business day, and stored off site. The key thing here is, backups must be tested – this means you need to frequently pick random backup sets and attempt to restore from them.  In far too many cases, data that was thought to be securely backed up couldn’t be accessed when the chips were down.

3. When disaster strikes, the first thing to go haywire is the plan.

Your business should review the disaster plan for adequacy (are you covering all the bases) and currency (has the plan been updated to match your new technology?). Special attention should be paid to new systems and processes that weren’t in place in the business when the initial plan was developed.

4. When disaster strikes, your competitors will notice.

If your company doesn’t maintain market presence and reputation after a disaster, the absence can create a vacuum in the market place. This being the case, competitors will step up to fill that void.

5. Remember the four “P”s of disaster planning – People, property, priorities and planning!

Your company’s security plans should be up to date, including how to contact local fire, police and rescue departments. Some examples of questions to answer in your disaster document: Do you have a written crisis management plan? Has it been tested recently? Do you know when to call in authorities, and who has the authority to make the decision? How are visitors and vendors controlled in your building? Do your security procedures reflect what you really expect employees will do?

6. Tailor your business continuity spending to real threats and key priorities.

Recent events have made us think of terrorism as a major threat, but for small businesses like ours, there are more pressing and diverse threats. Things such as employee or non-employee workplace violence, cyber threats (including computer viruses and denial of service attacks), electrical disruptions, tornadoes or other storm related damages are, for most businesses, much more appropriate threats to invest in remediation efforts against.

7. Successful recovery is like a recipe – everything has to come together at the right time.

Your business should also consider asking critical vendors about their plans and capabilities to deal with emergencies. Relying on one or more critical vendors to keep your business going could be dangerous because a crisis that affects them could spill over to your company if they’re unable to provide goods or services.

8. Regional disasters have a way of mandating priorities you weren’t even aware of.

It is a good idea for your business to look at the immediate area surrounding your facility and perform a risk assessment. Are you near a river, stream, dam or lake?

Focusing on employee safety will pay off during a disaster, since knowledgeable employees are an important key to your company’s recovery plans.