Hurricane season naturally has business owners thinking about their own business continuity plan. If you don’t already have a disaster recovery plan, right now is a great time to make one. Taking the time to work out the details in advance will ensure that your business resumes operations as quickly and efficiently as possible when the unthinkable occurs.
What to Include in a Business Disaster Recovery Plan
1. Every worst-case scenario
Often, the weakest part of a business’ preparedness and recovery plan is not taking seemingly minor or unlikely disasters seriously. Types of disasters that could affect a business include:
- Building fires
- Floods, including water damage from burst pipes and sewer backups
- Severe storms, including hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and wind storms
- Road closures
- Power outages
- Biological threats
- Hazardous material spills
- Acts of violence or terrorism
- Cyber attacks and network intrusions, such as hacking or computer viruses
- Accidents, such as a car running into a building
As you consider the types of incidents that might affect your business, rate them in order of likeliness. (Your respective city’s planning department or Red Cross chapter can provide you with this type of information.) Then think of the ways that each disaster could affect your business and its stakeholders (e.g., employees and customers) so you can make the appropriate preparedness, recovery, and continuity plans.
2. Employee Communication and Preparation
Your employees have a critical role in reestablishing operations after a disaster. But, if employees don’t know how to prepare and recover, the plan is virtually useless.
A good way to start training employees about a disaster recovery plan is to have at least one individual from every department, including upper management, involved in the planning committee. Forming a committee is highly recommended to take into account various needs and viewpoints. Additionally, committee members can then provide regular training to the workers in their respective departments so they’re familiar with the steps that they need to take to help prepare and recover from a disaster.
As you involve your employees in disaster planning, ensure that more than one worker knows the vital actions to perform. This way, a thoughtful plan doesn’t fall apart because you couldn’t access the individual who is most familiar with the details.
3. Document Recovery
When there is a fire, you might lose your company’s vital documents in an instant. When there’s water damage, documents start degrading in a matter of hours. Without the proper planning and recovery, document losses can be catastrophic. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate them:
- Keep vital documents (those that would impact operations if lost) in a secure location that’s protected against water and fire damage, such as a vault, safe, or file cabinet.
- Keep copies of vital documents in a secure off-site location, such as a safe deposit box.
- Make digital copies of all the company’s records and store them in a cloud-based system that you can access from an offsite location. Many companies offer secure scanning services and can set up a system that automatically uploads and saves scanned documents.
- Store critical documents on the upper level of a building instead of the basement or a street-level floor.
- Have the contact information for a document restoration company that will securely recover damaged documents, including films, books, photographs, and other records. Polygon specializes in document cleaning and restoration using the latest, safest techniques. Our security processes and facilities ensure the protection of your most sensitive information, so you never have to worry about compromising privileged details.
4. Off-Site Locations
Secure a secondary location for your employees to work in the event that a commercial building is unsafe after a disaster. An off-site location might not allow you to run at full capacity, but it will keep your company’s virtual presence and the lines of communications open during the recovery process, which is important for establishing trust.
As you consider off-site locations, keep in mind that you should have an off-site location for secure data storage and backups. If a disaster corrupts or damages computer data, a backup will preserve the information so you don’t have to rebuild projects and files from scratch.
5. Asset Inventory
Your business will never fully recover if you don’t have a clear idea of its assets. In the recovery plan, include a list of the company’s physical assets and the relevant details (e.g., make, model, serial number, purchase date, and purchase price). Assets to list include computers, tablets, cell phones, scanners, printers, cameras, software, office furniture, and other items that employees use daily. Include pictures of the workspaces before emergency preparations, after emergency preparations (to show that the company was diligent about securing equipment in response to a warning), and after the disaster.
Your business’ recovery efforts are only as good as the preparation that went into the continuity plan. After creating a disaster recovery plan, test its efficacy with drills. Review the plan at least once a year to ensure that it reflects the latest information and processes. If you need assistance right now with document recovery, contact Polygon to start the process immediately. If you’re in the planning stages, sign up for our complimentary Document Code Blue program to receive priority document restoration services at any time of day in the wake of a disaster. Talk to a specialist to learn more.
[Photo from USDA NRCS South Dakota via CC Licence 2.0]