Your company’s hardware suffers a meltdown. There are widespread power outages in your area. The river rises over its banks and floods into your building. A hacker maliciously compromises your system. Hurricanes, fires, earthquake — natural disasters or man-made — every business is vulnerable.
Disasters are inherently unpredictable and drastically range in degrees of severity. With Hurricane Sandy, up to 100,000 U.S. businesses were impacted — the vast majority closed for at least a day. And according to Forbes, about 30% of all impacted businesses failed due to the hurricane.
Because there’s the potential for disaster everywhere, every business needs a disaster recovery plan, also referred to as a business continuity plan. This plan should outline exactly how your organization will respond in the event of a disaster or emergency, help your business recover faster and protect the people in your organization.
Why is a BC or DR plan essential for your business?
While many areas of the two types of plans overlap, DR usually refers to the specific and swift steps you organization takes in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. As an IT professional, some of these may include restoring servers and mainframes with backups, or launching local area networks to meet business operational needs, according to TechTarget.
Like DR planning, BC plans outline detailed procedures and processes set in place to ensure continued functionality of critical operations during or in the immediate minutes following a disaster. Where they differ, however, is that a BC plan takes the situation further, to address long-term challenges, such as the sudden departure of key decision makers, catastrophic failures, malware infections and complete breakdowns of the supply chain.
How can you make your BC or DR plan better?
Say you already have the rough sketches of a complete plan – there are ways you can make it even better. First, you must assess your current plan, identifying its current strengths and weaknesses, according to Business 2 Community. Then you must analyze your company’s environment (no, not just the weather) and industry context to determine potential threats you could face.
For example, while your headquarters in Ohio might not have to worry about hurricanes, your newly opened office in Florida just might. In IT, you must effectively plan for IT issues by having systems and processes set in place that will warrant an immediate switch to backup servers should any problems arise – big or small. This way, you’ll keep your operations running smoothly, no matter what.
Also, recognize essential personnel and ask them to help work on the committee for protocols. Among those to include are people from human resources, IT, finance, facilities, customer service and communications.
Another huge consideration is communication. When is it safe to return to work. If the event is large enough, like an earthquake, freeways and transportation may be impacted in specific areas.
Know your employees phone numbers and ways to contact them. Supervisors in large organizations can contact people who report to them to convey information or you can ensure employees understand expectations — to check in with supervisors. If you have that contact information in the cloud or even hard copy, it makes it easier.
Something may happen when people are work
It’s also important to consider that something may happen when people are working. Tornadoes, for example, often happen with little warning. Keep up-to-date on safety protocols for all the events that could happen in your area and plan for them. Employees should know procedures to protect them so they can assist customers with them.
As part of your evacuation drills, communication is key here, too. If they need to meet somewhere, verify people know where and what they need to do.