Up to 40 percent of businesses do not recover after a disaster. The statistics are worse for those that suffer a major data loss, such as damaged documents and computer files. The best way to ensure quick business continuity after a hurricane is to have a disaster preparedness plan that includes a plan to recover, an asset inventory and a comprehensive document restoration plan.
Risk Assessment and Mitigation
When creating a disaster preparedness plan related to hurricanes and tropical storms, consider all the risks that the storms pose, such as:
- Flying debris breaking windows
- Trees or branches falling on the commercial building
- Water damage to documents
- Damage to assets such as furniture, machinery and electronic devices
- Security risks
For each risk listed, write down ways to mitigate them and implement a plan to do so. For example:
- Flying debris breaking windows: Install storm shutters
- Fallen trees or branches: Trim back large branches and remove weak or dead trees
Create a list of everything the company owns and include details such as:
- Purchase or acquisition date
- Purchase price or value
- Serial number
- Manufacturer and model
- Product codes and software keys
It is a good idea to take digital pictures of assets and store copies of the files in a cloud-based storage solution.
An asset inventory should also include a list of all physical and electronic documents so you know exactly what documents you need to resume operations after a storm. As you inventory the documents, indicate their location, if there are digital or photocopies, and the location of the copies. After completing the inventory, classify them in order of operational importance:
- Critical: Records that aid emergency workers, such as blueprints
- Essential: Irreplaceable documents needed within 72 hours after a hurricane; without these, you cannot resume operations
- Important: Necessary documents that are difficult to replace; not having these documents would create a hardship when resuming operations
- Useful: Replaceable documents that would be inconvenient to lose
- Non-essential: Documents that won’t hinder continuity if damaged
Storage and Security
While the storage and security of physical assets is important when preparing for and recovering from a hurricane, it is equally important to secure documents and data. Consider the safest off-site and on-site document storage solutions available. For example, creating digital copies of all documents and storing them in a cloud server would give you instant access to the company’s records from any device. Another solution could include making photocopies of essential documents and keeping the originals in secure off-site location, such as a safe deposit box. To prevent water damage in a storm, you could create a policy in which personnel store physical documents in water-resistant file cabinets kept on the upper levels of a building.
When creating digital copies of documents, you must create security practices that align with the company’s security policies so personnel access appropriate files. You must also ensure that you can see the document type from any device. PDF (portable document format) documents use a file format that you can open from almost any device using any operating system. You can encrypt PDFs and secure them with passwords. You can turn generic documents into searchable or fillable PDF documents that others can use without altering the original. A company that specializes in document scanning, like Polygon, can help you design a secure solution that meets that company’s needs and complies with privacy laws and industry regulations.
Hurricane Damage Restoration Planning
A business continuity plan should include the following elements:
- Latest building plans and schematics
- Policies and goals
- Delegation of authority
- Disaster team member names and contact information
- Emergency contact list, including insurance agents and document damage restoration specialists
- Inventory of business assets
- Inventory of the business’ documents
- List of documents needed to resume normal operations
- Copies of contract agreements
In this plan, outline the document recovery and salvaging process so you know how to analyze the damage, recover and stabilized damaged documents safely, and record the extent of the damage.
In the plan, also designate an off-site location from which to resume operations if you cannot enter the building after a storm. Working at an off-site location will reduce losses and keep you in touch with stakeholders.
Having a plan to recover after a disaster is one of your business’ greatest, most invaluable assets. Create a successful document recovery plan by partnering with Polygon, a leader in the disaster recovery and document restoration industry. Polygon’s experts will guide you through the planning process so your employees and Polygon’s document restoration specialists are ready to respond immediately after a storm. Get in touch with Polygon to learn more about disaster planning and document recovery services.
[Photo from Jocelyn Kinghorn via CC License 2.0]