You may think preparing a disaster recovery plan is the preserve of larger corporations, but any size or type of business benefits from having one. If the worst happens and your business is struck by a severe weather incident causing damage, disruption – or a major systems failure occurs – a means of recovering as soon as possible could be a life saver.
The objective of a disaster recovery plan
The point of a disaster recovery plan is to enable an ordered recovery from disaster with all supporting information to hand – for example special passwords or contact details of specific people who can help such as IT professionals.
Even detailed information such as where ‘emergency’ supplies of stationery and business paperwork such as accounting tax forms can be found or sourced easily in the event of, say, a fire or flood destroying supplies kept on the premises.
Flooding and fire can strike totally unexpectedly; if your business is based in a part of the US where hurricanes are likely the risk is greater still.
What should your recovery plan include?
As much detail as possible written down in terms of how you’ll get your business up and running as soon as possible if disaster strikes.
- Who should you tell if disaster strikes? Any particular suppliers? Perhaps some or all of your customers?
- Insurance policies – are the policy numbers and contact details easily accessible so you can contact your insurers quickly?
- What alternative location is available if you have to stop working out of your present one?
- What are your data backup arrangements?
- What are the contact details of key people you’d need to call in? For example, an IT professional or emergency electricians and plumbers
- What roles will members of your staff perform in the event of a disaster striking?
- Do you have an up to date list of business equipment (with photos ideally) to provide insurance companies with?
Most businesses rely to a greater or lesser extent on their data from a basic email list to fully integrated accounting, stock control and scheduling.
Any sort of data loss caused by a disaster whether natural or something like a cyber attack could prove hugely disruptive. Therefore, a disaster recovery plan should include detailed provision for data protection.
Back up everything
You’ll know that backing up data is important, but don’t forget tech such as smartphones – many people have very important information on these, so back them up too.
Back up to a storage system separately to your business computers and keep a copy away from your physical location.
The cloud is a very good way to store data remotely in a cost-effective way. Many people use cloud-based services already such as Google Drive and Dropbox; these may suffice for certain lower level storage or back up requirements, but for meatier needs a specialist cloud storage provider would be required.
Automatic backups can be set up; in the event of disaster, your data can soon be restored so helping get your business back on its feet quickly.
Minimizing effects of a disaster
While you may not be able to prevent a natural disaster, you can at least prepare for those you know you may be at risk from.
It could be as simple as having protective covers to hand to put over computers and other office machinery, and maybe moving equipment into a less vulnerable space if there’s a hurricane warning or similar.
If you do find yourself taking these protective measures, then date stamped photographs showing equipment protected like this will help if and when making insurance claims.
Review your plan
Along with creating a disaster recovery plan if you haven’t already, it’s important to review and update it as and when required. Over time your business is likely to change; equipment is replaced and you may find your current back up and data storage requires an upgrade.