10 Steps Every Business Should Take to Prepare for a Disaster

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

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“The impacts of an interruption can be stunning,” says Bob Boyd, President and CEO of Agility Recovery, an industry leader in disaster recovery solutions based here in Charlotte. “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.”

In any scenario, 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. It is for this reason that Agility Recovery is once again partnering with the Ready Campaign, the US Small Business Administration and FEMA as a participant in National Preparedness Month, a national effort to increase Americans’ preparedness for disasters.  In doing so, Agility has produced a series of 4 educational webinars.  More information and registration details can be found at www.NPM2014.com. For a preview of some of the most important steps that will be discussed during these webinars, below you will find the “Top 10 Steps Every Business Should Take to Prepare for Disaster.”  These topics and others will be explained during this year’s National Preparedness Program.  We invite you to join us for the important discussion and ensure your business is prepared for the next interruption.

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1. 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 everyday events, such as power outages, human error and technology failure. It is important assess your risk for catastrophic weather occurrences, but it is equally important to assess exposure to more commonplace risks. Click here for a form to help assess your risk.

 2. 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 things such as as billing, payroll and service fulfillment. List these functions and determine a process for restoring them in the event of an interruption. Click Here for a Critical Business Functions Form.

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3. 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.

4. 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.  Click Here for a Vendor Preparedness Assessment Form.

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5. 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 on line 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.

6. 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 on-site hardware. Outline a plan to replace PCs, software, servers, printers and fax machines should your office be destroyed.

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 7. 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.  Click here for a Crisis Communications Plan Checklist.

8. 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.  Click Here for a Business Emergency Kit Checklist.

Agility Recovery shares with Charlotte Business Resources about the steps to prepare for a business disaster

9. 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.

 10. 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. Click Here for a Checklist to Test Your Plan.

If you would like more valuable tips, Agility Recovery has an informative blog! Read it here!

 

Thank you to Scott Teel, Marketing Director of Agility Recovery for this valuable information.  You can learn more about their services by visiting their website.  Also, engage with them on Facebook and Twitter!  You can also learn more by joining them in their LinkedIn Preparedness Discussion Group “Collaborate. Share. Prepare.”  

 

 

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