Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity

By Greg Niemi . October 2, 2013

If a natural disaster were imminent would your people know what to take with them plus where and when to meet up after?  

Maintaining or restoring business operations a.s.a.p. after a disaster is mission critical.  The livelihoods of your customers, employees, suppliers and shareholders depend upon this.In Blog Image 

Most important is that you have a plan and that you keep the plan as simple as possible so it is easily understood. 

“People First, Property Second”; this phrase clearly communicates that you care first for the safety of your people.  If the threat is outside (e.g., severe weather, tornado, hurricane, etc.) people should get inside and the plan should instruct your people where to gather.  Whereas, if the threat is inside (e.g., fire, chemicals, human threat) your people should get outside again with clear instructions where they are to gather.  Keep simple for clarity. 

It is important that everyone can be accounted for – thus the reason your plan needs to specify the safe place for people to gather (a.k.a. fall out to) whether inside or outside.  In addition, in the event people must scatter, put in your plan a means for everyone to report in they are okay.  Make this the employees responsibility. 

“I’m okay!”  One easy means is to set up an added extension / office voice mailbox for emergencies for employees to call into to hear messages and leave messages.  Another means is to create a phone tree (employees call supervisors, supervisors call managers, managers call leadership, etc.).  Create a wallet safety card so each employee knows critical phone numbers.  

If temporary operations are needed to be set-up after the disaster where would this be and how quickly?  If time allowed beforehand, would your people know what they should take with them?  

The questions above reinforces the importance of having response plans in place for file management, off-site data storage, plans to remove all critical computing equipment, telephone equipment, web hosting / internet connectivity (especially if e-commerce), physical inventories, critical records and phone numbers and more.  Outline who and how these items are to be removed and restored. 

Having a plan that is easily understood and rehearsed is critical for the safety of your people and for the continuity of your business operations. 

Many public resources are available including templates and checklists for your plans:  FEMA (www.ready.gov or www.fema.gov), Red Cross (www.redcross.org), and your County and/or State emergency management departments.  Or simply search “disaster recovery plans” the internet.  Furthermore, your local public safety departments along with your professional service providers (i.e., external IT support, CPA, etc.) are usually willing to help review, audit and test your plans. 

Although there is many resources available it all begins with a commitment by YOU to have a plan in place.  YOU must commit the time or a team of resources to develop your disaster recovery plan.  It is best to develop your plan when you do not need one. 

Please give yourself a deadline to get this done.  If you would like my assistance just ask.  

Greg Niemi 

© 2013 NIEMI TRUST, LLC – All rights reserved.

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