Natural disasters happen. Small business owners are well aware of this, and the savvy owner will take steps to ensure that the potential damage to their business is minimized and that they can remain operational – a practice commonly known as business continuity planning. While backing up your data is a good practice, backup alone likely won’t be enough to help you remain operational during or after a disaster.
Here are five things you should be doing, aside from backing up your data, to ensure you’re ready for anything.
- Where to work. One of the first things you should consider is where you’re going to work if your office becomes inaccessible. Hotels, convention centers or other office buildings are viable locations. You should choose at least two different locations, widely spread apart. You should also be sure to inform your staff and include maps of the routes to the locations you’ve chosen.
- Replacement equipment. It’s incredibly important that you know exactly what equipment you use and how integral each part is to your operations. For mission-critical equipment (equipment your company absolutely can’t work without) you need to have a plan in place as to how you can quickly replace lost items, the cost involved, and replacement time. For less important equipment, you should have a couple of vendors in mind.
- Communication systems. During adverse business conditions it’s vitally important that you and your employees are able to communicate both with one another and with your clients. You should look into a communication system that’s flexible, can be established wherever you are, and that allows you to keep your phone numbers. VoIP is a great system; telecommuting is another option.
- Coordinate staff. Your staff drives your business. Without them, your business won’t be able to run. Once you develop your continuity plan, it is important that you have hard and soft copies of the plan accessible to all staff, and that staff members know their role in the plan. If your plan is enacted you need to contact your staff and ensure that there aren’t any problems.
- Access to critical documents. If you have a good backup location selected, are able to set up equipment quickly, and your staff members know their roles, you may think your plan is perfect. But you’re missing one key element: access to documents. Employees won’t be able to work without them. It’s important to ensure that you can access your data backups, which means you should probably keep copies offsite and in the cloud if possible.
A continuity plan is important, but hopefully you’ll never have to enact it. Nevertheless, you should plan for the worst. If you’re unsure of where to start, or feel your current plan is inadequate, please contact us.