Business owners, by nature, tend to be optimists. They believe that sales will grow, the economy will get better, and disasters will never happen to them. The stark reality is though, disasters can happen to anyone. The businesses in New Orleans never thought Katrina would be as bad as it was, and the companies with offices in the World Trade Center would have never foreseen 9/11. On a less serious scale, you also never expect a water main to break or for faulty wiring to cause a fire. The truth is that disasters happen, and every company needs a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan. The way that businesses survive these disasters are by creating contingency plans when they never expect to have to use them.
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
A business continuity plan is a strategy for having minimal to no down time should a disaster happen. For many industries, it’s vital to be able to continue your work even if your offices are inaccessible, your computers are lost, and your main form of communication is down.
& What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?
Once your company survives the disastrous event, how will you recover? What is the plan for where you would work, who would be in charge should something happen to the CEO, and how would you adjust to any lasting effects of the disaster? A disaster recovery plan would address all of this.
The Basics of a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan
The details of each company’s Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan can vary greatly, but many of the basic components are universal. Your plan should include how your employees will communicate with you and with each other, how you will continue to operate, and what the chain of command is. Depending on your business, this might also include how your distribution chain will continue to function, who will maintain the servers, or how you would communicate with clients. Preparing all of this when a disaster is nowhere in sight will leave you in a good position, should the unexpected happen to you.
Having 2 or 3 means of communication, should your primary method be down, is the most important part of a business continuity and disaster recovery plan. Being able to get in touch with coworkers and employees will not only be vital to continuing to operate, but also in making sure everyone is okay. Keep the contact information of everyone for a few different methods – online, mobile phone, and land line, just to name a few.
What sort of disasters will you continue to operate in, and what sort would put everything on hold? The answer to this question depends on how vital a service you provide and what sort of supplies or distribution channels you reply on.
Do you have your computer network backed up, and are employees able to access their files on personal devices? Without having a backup solution, your recovery phase will be very difficult. In turn, without cloud based computing, it will be nearly impossible to maintain operations should your office be inaccessible. Make it possible for employees to be able to operate without their normal supplies.
Chain of Command
As part of your Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan, include a chain of command should anything happen to the owner or CEO in a disaster. It is of course unlikely to suffer a disaster that could cause the loss of your company’s leadership, but always plan for the worst when putting together a plan. It is the best way to ensure business continuity.
Implementation – Drills & Training
Implementation includes running drills and ensuring employees at all levels are familiar with their part in the plan. Do cross-training of essential tasks and address any holes that are revealed in the drills you run. Encourage employees to take these drills seriously to be able to practice operating under the stress of a disaster.
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan
Disasters do not discriminate based on the size of your business or how prepared you are. As the adage goes, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Set aside time and man-power to put together a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan for multiple scenarios. Being able to thrive in a disastrous scenario could be a defining moment for your company.