Disaster Planning Strategy for Your Business in 2019
Disaster planning is critical to the successful operation of any business, any size. Yet, 75% of small businesses have no disaster recovery or business continuity, DR/BC for short, plan in place. Many businesses will only begin to think about business continuity when a disaster is threatening. But by then it could be too late, especially in the Tampa Bay Area, where we could see any where from 3 to 15 major storm systems during average any given hurricane season. According to NOAA, we should expect a likely range of 9 to 15 named storms, of which 4 to 8 could become hurricanes this year. Which means if you haven’t started your DR/BC planning already, you should as soon as possible. This guide will introduce steps to get you started as well as general best practices & things to remember when you’re creating a comprehensive plan for your organization.
Step 1: Identify your risks
While a true DR/BC plan should be all encompassing and cover any and all disaster events that could affect your business, ranking events in the order in which they are most likely to happen is a good way to start. For example, a business in the Tampa Bay area may create a list like:
While a Business in the mid-west might make a list like:
Each business should take in to account the type of weather events that their area normally experiences as well as their office location and the location of business-critical hardware within their office. This leads us into step 2.
Step 2: Identify potential losses
Once you’ve identified your main risk sources, you can next identify what specifically could be affected by each risk, based on your knowledge of your organization’s hardware location and uses. For example, the Tampa Bay business might expand their list to include what is most at risk like this:
o Power outage – no battery backups/surge protection/backup power
o Potential structural damage
o Potential data loss/corruption from server downtime
o No access to office
o Loss of hardware (workstations & networking equipment)
Once you have identified what is at risk for each situation, develop a plan of how to get these items prepared for each situation, whether that is creating a strategy for rotating a backup of your servers, so you always have an emergency copy, or supplying all hardware with battery backups and surge protectors. This is the most important part of your plan, identifying risks and developing a solution to minimize them. Once you feel like your organization’s plan is comprehensive to cover the specific risks you face, then you can move on to step 3.
Step 3: Adding to your plan
A good DR/BC plan includes a lot more than your plan for dealing with a natural disaster event. A comprehensive plan can include any number of the following, according to Business.com:
An evacuation policy, including maps and routes
Who employees should contact, inside and outside the company, for additional information about what to do
Who is required to stay on site to perform essential functions
Who is responsible for rescue and medical duties
Contact details for emergency or location support
Employee emergency contact information, plus information about unique medical needs.
Special instructions regarding hazardous materials and equipment, if necessary
If it is information that you think would be helpful to know, if you are unable to get to the office/unable to perform normal operations/access employee & operational data, you should probably include it in the plan and update it regularly.
Step 4: Best Practices
Having a plan in place is a great start, but here are a few best practices that you should focus on when forming your DR/BC strategy:
Make one person or team responsible:
Your DR/BC Coordinator should be someone very familiar with business operations and should focus on keeping the plan updated, performing regular training, and get management support for the final plan. Your IT department or provider would be a good candidate for helping to form & manage your DR/BC plan as they have a lot of insight on how to improve hardware rotation, data storage and event remediation.
Test your plan:
Testing the scenarios outlined in your plan with staff will be the key to its success. Only through testing can you identify where weaknesses in your strategy were missed. Test your plan step by step & regularly so when an event does occur, your organization is ready for it.
Review & update annually:
Your assigned coordinator should be reviewing the plan for changes regularly and identifying where services and operations have changed that may affect how the plan is carried out. Some information needs to be updated more than others but setting responsibility to make sure the plan is accurate and up to date is critical to business continuity.
Don’t wait to start forming your plan. June 1st marked the start of hurricane season for the state of Florida. Start forming your plan now by identifying your risks, creating a remediation plan, and bringing in staff to support and buy into it. Check out our resources here like the 2019 hurricane season outlook and a sample DR/BC plan for you to use, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us for support if your organization needs access to planning resources, we’ll help you to create a comprehensive plan to save your organization from unnecessary downtime and loss.