How To Prepare Your Business for a Disaster

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Intro by Jeff Cavignac, CPCU, RPLU, ARM, CRIS, MLIS
Article courtesy of Agility Recovery

A disaster recovery plan is something every business needs, but something most businesses don’t have. Why?

There are several reasons, but most people don’t know where to start. There are a lot of moving parts, and just about every aspect of the business needs to be included. While you may be able to create your own plan, it’s best to have help.

Over five years ago, Cavignac & Associates joined up with Agility Recovery. Agility is in business to help companies recover from natural and man-made disasters. They have developed a template for businesses like ours to customize their own specific disaster recovery program. In the event you need to mobilize Agility’s recovery resources, they guarantee that you will have office space, power, communications and computer systems within 48 hours.

If you’d like to learn more about disaster recovery planning, I’d encourage you to review the article below and click on the link to receive the white paper published by Agility.

Top Steps Every Business Should Take to Prepare for a Disaster

When people think of disasters, they generally envision earthquakes, tornados or hurricanes–catastrophic events that devastate communities. But for a business, a disaster can be something as small as a failed server, building fire or a burst plumbing pipe. These events rarely make the news, but can have a devastating impact on a business, often bringing operations to a standstill.

“The impacts of an interruption can be stunning,” says Bob Boyd, President and CEO of Agility Recovery. “Statistics indicate that around 40 percent of the businesses affected by a disaster will not survive because they do not have a recovery plan in place.”

Creating a basic, executable disaster recovery plan is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your business and ensure its survival – no matter what the scenario. Agility has created a 10- Step Program that will walk you through the basic disaster recovery planning process, week by week, providing you with affordable and actionable steps you can take today, as well as tips to help keep you on track. There is no better time to start the process than now. Download Agility’s whitepaper and take the first steps toward better preparedness today!

>>> Click here to download The Definitive Guide to Disaster Recovery Planning

Below are the top steps every business should take to prepare for disaster.

Assess your risk – both internally and externally.

Which disasters will most likely impact your business? Though major disasters dominate the headlines, most business interruptions are caused by every day events, such as power outages, human error and technology failure. It is important to assess your risk for catastrophic weather occurrences, but equally important to assess exposure to more commonplace risks.

Analyze your critical business functions.

Evaluate and document how your company functions and determine which processes, employees, equipment and materials are critical for your daily operations. Critical business functions include such things as billing, payroll and service fulfillment. List these functions and determine a process for restoring them in the event of an interruption.

Plan for an alternate location.

What would you do if your facilities were inaccessible tomorrow? Where would you go to continue basic business operations? Review your site requirements and determine a plan for recovery. Alternate site options include your home, a branch or second location, the site of a similar business, or a vendor that provides recovery office space.

Consider supply chain preparedness.

According to recent surveys, less than half of American businesses have disaster recovery or business continuity plans in place to maintain supply chain logistics in the event of a disaster. Talk to your key vendors and suppliers about their recovery plans. Develop relationships with alternate vendors in case your primary vendors experience an interruption.

Ensure employees and their families are prepared for disasters both at work and at home.

Without question, most businesses will admit their most important assets are their employees.   While data recovery and business continuity may form the backbone of a disaster recovery strategy, if employees are unable or unwilling to report to work, having your systems back online may prove worthless.   Help your employees prepare for disasters at home, ensure they know their role in your continuity plan, and develop and practice crisis communications plans that incorporate both employees and their families.

Back up your data and practice restoring your technology.

In today’s highly technical economy, information is more valuable than ever. Having data and critical applications backed up is a crucial and fairly common practice. However, make sure to store your data in an offsite, safe and secure location, preferably 50 miles or more from your site(s). Also, regularly verify that you are able to retrieve your data and test restoring it back to onsite hardware. Outline a plan to replace PCs, software, servers, printers and fax machines should your office be destroyed.

Create an employee, vendor and key client communication plan.

Create a 24-hour phone tree for all employees and their spouses or closest relatives. Make sure your employees, vendors, suppliers, partners and even clients know ahead of time how to exchange or obtain information should your standard lines of communication fail. Also, compile a list of your critical clients and vendors and store it in an offsite location. Determine a process for contacting them should your systems go down.

Assemble an emergency kit.

An emergency or disaster recovery kit should contain items such as fresh water, non-perishable food, flashlights, extra batteries, battery-powered AM/FM radio, first aid kit and copies of important documents and records. Additionally, your business disaster kit should contain petty cash, important contracts and documents, corporate letterhead, software licensing keys, passwords and other sensitive documents.

Regularly review your business insurance coverage.

Is your insurance coverage adequate? Sit down with your agent to assure that you are insured for potential risks. Consider business interruption insurance, which may compensate you for lost income should you experience a disaster. Make sure you keep photos of your building, equipment lists and policy information stored in a safe and secure offsite location.

Test your plan.

Make sure your plan is actionable and able to be executed during times of crisis – test your plan yearly and update it as necessary. Make sure to re-educate employees when any changes to the plan are made and include training on the plan for all new hires.