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Beyond Backup: 10 Preparedness and Recovery Tips for Businesses

When organizations discuss disaster recovery, or business continuity planning, concerns tend to focus on technology-related malfunctions or failures; the most common causes downtime in business. However, the world we live in is fraught with more challenges than just infrastructure vulnerability. Coastlines are more densely populated than ever, (that includes coastal businesses) so floods, hurricanes and storms have more of an impact than ever. Elsewhere, other natural disasters are all too familiar. It’s a reality that we also need to consider a workforce quarantined or displaced by pandemic, acts of violence or terrorism. Once we’ve established a procedure for keeping employees, safe it makes sense to consider how to keep the business safe, and even productive, in all scenarios.

  • Let all employees know you’re developing a preparedness plan. Not only is their input valuable for defining blind spots, it encourages them to create a preparedness plan at home – which is critical. Once families are safe, employees can turn their thoughts to business continuity.
  • Identify any regulations or minimum requirements that will apply to your plan.
  • Assess the risks in your area and be sure to go beyond your risk of natural disasters specific to your geography. Is your building secure or guarded or is it vulnerable to threats? Is public transportation or major highways essential to employees coming to work?
  • How can you reduce the risks you’ve identified?
  • What is the hourly impact of downtime on your business and how many hours can you tolerate? How much data can you afford to lose? Is your backup reliable and is it tested regularly? See our previous blog on How to Calculate RPO and RTO.
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With this information, you’re ready to write a comprehensive plan:

  • Start with emergency response – make sure all employees know when and how to get out of the building via at least two exit points. Then determine what the organization’s immediate emergency response plan is in a variety of scenarios. Are you able to be conservative or does your business require some risk?
  • Establish an emergency communication plan. How will you contact and communicate with employees in various emergency scenarios?
  • What is your emergency resource management plan? Who is in charge, and second in charge, of stock?
  • Establish and test a comprehensive information technology plan. Ideally, get a real-time copy of critical data and applications out of the zip code you’re in. Make sure you’ve completed an up-to-date evaluation of roles and the required tools. Evaluate the ability of employees to work from another location. Will you allow them to access corporate networks with personal devices? Will you allow any Wi-Fi connection or do you have security requirements? Be sure all employees understand the policies.
  • Establish an employee assistance and recovery plan. Ideally you’ll be able to establish recovery funding and role cross-training so extended absences have minimal impact on employees and customers.

Any effective, reliable plan will require regular evaluation and testing. When it comes to disaster recovery and business continuity, don’t just set it and forget it!

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