Protect Your Business Continuity With a Disaster Plan

Business continuity and disaster planning go hand-in-hand. When they prepare for disasters, businesses owners usually think about emergency numbers, evacuation plans, and insurance matters. But what about the technology in your offices? Do you have a plan for preserving important printed and structural materials? Are you aware of your firm’s technology risk?

Assessing Technology Risk
The first step in assessing a company’s technology risk is to create inventories of computers, software, and other electronic items that may need programming. After a disaster, applications and hardware may need to be reinstalled and replaced. Having a list of hardware, legal licenses, applications, and software can help a business create recover budgets.

Your inventory spreadsheet might include information like: name/type of electronic equipment; who uses it (for example: CEO’s desktop computer); location of the equipment, RAM; the speed of the processor; the operating system (for example: Linux, Windows, Apple, etc.); disk size; server information; date and location where the item was purchased; and accompanying hardware.

Assessing Printed and Structural Material Risks
Assess what can be done to prevent a disaster in your offices. Many business owners plan for big natural disasters, but fail to prevent more common mishaps like fires, water leaks, and mold damage.

Think about which printed materials would devastate your business if they were lost. These documents may include deeds, client files, architectural plans, models, tax documents, x-rays, photographs, etc. Place these documents in a secure (perhaps off-site) location.

Also, identify hazards in your workplace. Are candles allowed? Are fire extinguishers in plain sight? Are there any leaky windows or pools of water outside of the building? Is the office weatherized for the winter so water pipes running overhead do not burst from freezing temperatures?

Data Back-up
Every business should back up data at regular intervals. There are many ways to do this: onto CDs or DVDs, an external hard drive, or even online. Many businesses even keep backed-up storage off-site in the event of a fire at the office.

When planning for data backups, think: What information is the most important to save? How often will this information need to be backed up? How long will you save electronic files? If any files are lost, can they be recovered quickly?

Don’t Forget Disaster Recovery Planning
No matter how well prepared you are, sometimes disasters happen. Designate a back-up work site in the event that the office becomes uninhabitable. Disaster planning also needs to include plans to get back up on one’s feet. How long will it take to become operational again? Where will all of the equipment, new or old, be set-up after a disaster?

Have the contact information for a disaster restoration specialist in your list of important business numbers. These professionals will help ensure repair work is done correctly the first time so that secondary problems (like mold from water damage) do not make an appearance down the road. Document restoration specialists can help companies get back to business quickly. Specialists can restore items like photographs, books or documents, and even x-rays.

It is not pleasant to think about the worst case scenarios when it comes to planning a business’ future. However, when it comes to business continuity, not thinking planning for the worst is foolish. Protect your business’ assets: prepare for technological disasters.

~Flora Richards-Gustafson, 2009