Disasters happen everywhere.
They may bring with them adverse results but while they cannot always be avoided, you can always prepare for them.
Any type of disaster can bring your company down – from natural events like rain, drought and even technical issues like data loss.
Many entrepreneurs have found the road to recovery difficult after a disaster strike, and even more of them have watched in horror as their businesses come to a grinding halt after a disaster.
The range of operations disrupted goes from suppliers unable to deliver and the customers unable to acquire the goods and services provided.
While people and businesses alike have become more reliant on technology that has been incorporated to operate personal lives and business operations, they seem to overlook the fact that technology might fail.
There have been reported cases of huge entities experiencing IT problems as a result of a computer virus striking their systems.
A good example here is the 2016 UK hospital network case which saw a chain of hospitals turn down patients for five days with over 2,800 patients procedures and appointments getting canceled because of a computer virus.
What can you do in such cases?
Murphy’s law states that ‘whatever could go wrong, will go wrong.’ It’s better to be safe than sorry (and out of business).
Statistics show that 93% of companies without a disaster recovery plan go out of business within a year, after suffering a major data loss.
Ideally, in case of a disaster, a business will already have a disaster recovery plan and a business continuity plan in check.
Simply put, this is a plan that has been published and has given out an approach on how to deal and respond to unexpected occurrences.
The plan will describe how to get the business back up and running within the shortest time possible by minimizing the effects of the disaster.
The disaster recovery plan you make as a business entity should be a core component and never should it be an afterthought.
The plan’s complexity depends on the complexity of your business operations. A solopreneur will have a much simpler plan than an IT giant with complex operations that span across silos.
There are several things you must do before drafting a disaster recovery plan:
- You will perform a business impact analysis (BIA).
- You also need a risk analysis (RA).
- This will give you good insight for establishing the recovery time objective (RTO) – the possible amount of time the business application may be down.
- Finally, you’ll need to determine your recovery point objective (RPO) – the previous point in time for the recovery of the application.
The plan should allow the IT department to recover system functionality and data and enable the business operations to go on.
A business continuity plan (BCP) is closely related to DRP, but they are not the same.
While DRP handles how to recover data and operations, the business continuity plan helps determine how to continue operations once disaster strikes.
Your business needs both DRP and BCP.
Senior vice president of executive risk at Assurance states that ‘With the proper planning, the loss can be a bit less devastating.’ He continues, ‘A disaster restoration and business continuity plan can significantly reduce the effects of the loss.’
A carefully developed plan will help you restore files and operations quickly and keep the integrity of all systems, which minimizes any system malfunctions that follow after a disruption.
When you’re working on your disaster recovery and business continuity plans, you should establish a clear strategy on who will help you and what you should cover.
Here’s a quick checklist on what you should do:
- Build up a team. Involving volunteers and employees will be the first step.
- Set goals. Set targets you plan to achieve and set goals that would give answers to questions like who is the best partner? Where will we relocate?
- Analyze capabilities and hazards. Have information on the current capabilities, potential perils, and possible emergencies.
- Develop action plans. Every potential disaster should have a plan covering it. A contractor will identify the plan after a disaster to understand what’s needed.
- Documentation. Put into writing and include back up protocols.
- Ensure employees are familiar with the plan. Embed the plans into daily operations and training for the employees, management, and maintenance team to understand them better.
When you have a good disaster recovery plan, you are giving assurances to your employees and customers alike – people will love to associate with a business that thinks about the future and makes sure to secure it.
After a disaster has taken place, you need to ensure the plan you have worked on helps the business to survive and recover in the shortest time possible.
Here are the steps to guide you:
- Reach out to key employees. This will help in dealing with priority issues like staff communication and customer service. Employees with a calm demeanor will fit the equation in handling the situation.
- Inform employees and provide information on the business status. You can find a location where you can convene an immediate meeting and provide critical updates as needed.
- Ensure safety in the company. Make sure there are no potential hazards.
- If your company is hit, you can take pictures and have records on the damaged properties and items.
- Contact your insurer immediately to start the property claim process.
- Find out if your business is valid to receive disaster relief from authorities such as municipal, provincial or federal.
- Work closely with the banks where some may chip in with flexible loan terms.
- Contact the suppliers for possible revision of the terms.
- Once you are on your feet, encourage the employees to help out in the community.
A disaster recovery plan keeps you safe from any type of disaster – be it natural or digital.
The plan you’ll produce is not a one-time thing. It has to be maintained as the business keeps on growing.
When systems and operations come to a halt, your company will suffer, but with a good disaster recovery plan, the impact will be much smaller.
Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate techie. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie devours the news on the latest gadgets and binge-watches his favorite TV shows. Follow him on @bmorepeters