Is Your Business Prepared For Disaster?

Not a week goes by that you don’t hear of a natural or manmade disaster that affects hundreds if not thousands of people.  Think of Hurricane Katrina of 2005 that affected the Southeastern United States or the Northeast Blackout in 2003 that affected a large part of the United States and Canada.  Both instances were large scale catastrophic events that made it impossible for normal business to operate for a period of time.  How many businesses were prepared to recover physically and financially from the event?   How many businesses had a business recovery plan that didn’t work like they thought it would or worst just didn’t have a plan at all?

What is considered a good Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan?  How do you even begin putting something together to ensure your business can continue to function with little to no impact to your customer?  Maybe you are part of a larger corporation that already has an overarching plan but you need to tailor plan fit your piece of the business.

Simply begin with first thing first – by thinking about the critical activities include your key services, current resources, staff and anything that could affect them (e.g. power failures, staff illnesses, natural disasters, etc.)  After assessing activities, start identifying services which the team cannot do without and what incidents could impact these high risk areas.  Ask team members these questions:

Furthermore, asking “What if?” type questions can help build a solid and manageable contingency plan.  This line of discussion forces teams to think outside of the “That would never happen here” mindset.

Examples of what if questions are: “What if…”

Discussing these possibilities with the team may help look at the situations from different angels resulting in diverse responses. Ask if any team members already have unwritten contingency plans in place such as “Joey knows to step in during client ABC calls if Sally doesn’t join the call in a certain amount of time.”  Think about events that have taken place in the past that may have affected the team.  What actions were taken?  If the result of those actions were desirable and repeatable in were any other risks identified that could be eliminated, minimalized or mitigated?

Create processes and procedures and be sure to document them thoroughly.  Test the procedures by using someone who may not be as familiar with them as the team who wrote them.   Someone unfamiliar with the current processes often ask questions giving insight to situations that seem apparent to those who “always” work in a situation.

When designing a business continuity or disaster recovery plan try to anticipate the “worst case scenario,” the small stuff seems to be manageable when a team steps back and looks at the big picture.  Having a solid contingency plan in place ensures efficiency and security, both internally to a team as well as externally to a client.  The ideal contingency plan would ensure the client’s experience is seamless.

The article was written by Daphne Hoover.

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