Is your business prepared for any type of disaster? Even though small businesses may not have as many employees or as much equipment, they are still as vulnerable to disaster as a large corporation. If your business office were to be destroyed by a fire or flood, you could lose valuable business if you don’t plan ahead. Many businesses don’t want to take the time and the expense to prepare a business continuity plan, but can you really afford not to make one?
1. Make a List of All Possible Disasters. The best place to start is to list different types of disasters and try to determine what could be lost in each case, and what you can do to prevent that loss. A flood will require different strategies from a power outage or a fire. Next, try to estimate how long it would take, and how much it would cost, for you to get your business up and running again.
2. Communication. The middle of a crisis is not the time to frantically search for phone numbers. Even small businesses need emergency contact numbers. Have all emergency contact numbers posted or programmed into every phone, or accessible via a spreadsheet or Word document on a cloud storage drive (One Drive, Google Drive etc.). Do you have an alternate mode of communication should your main phone lines shut down? Could your clients seamlessly contact you without ever knowing that your office was in the middle of disaster recovery? The same principle applies to email and fax. Making arrangements regarding communication are critical to keeping your business running smoothly. Communicating with staff and clients can mean the difference between complete shutdown, or a minimal business interruption.
3. Preserving Your Data. In the event of a disaster, it is important to know that everything you need to function as a business is available. Identify all vital systems, documents, and data. While it is important for every business to back up their data on a regular basis, what if a fire destroyed your office? For this reason, offsite storage is critical to preserving your business’ valuable information. Offsite data storage allows you team to access to all of your stored data from any computer and from anywhere in the world.
4. A Temporary Worksite. It is also important to plan for a temporary worksite. Depending on the goods or services your business offers, can you continue smooth operation if your office is shut down? Storing products in a second location can allow you to maintain your regular business schedule; however, what about your staff’s access to critical applications and data? Do you have a remote access solution in place to enable staff to access their apps and data from their home or apartment?
5. Test Your Plan. One of the keys to successful disaster recovery is testing your business continuity plan on a regular basis (required or recommended under most regulatory frameworks including HIPAA, GLBA/SEC, FFIEC etc.). It is important that you and your staff know exactly what to do, where to go, and how to access the necessary items you need to keep your business running smoothly to the outside world, even if you are stuck in the middle of a disaster. Schedule regular plan tests to ensure that everyone in your office is on the same page and ready should disaster strike. Hopefully, you will never have to use your business continuity plan, but it is smart business to be prepared for any emergency should one arise.
For assistance with your organization’s business continuity and disaster recovery planning please request a free consultation with an Advanced Technology Group specialist.