Disaster Recovery and Your Business

25 July 2008, by A. Cedilla

Nobody really likes to think about, much less talk about, the possibility of disaster, but if you look back on the local and global events that have occurred in the first half of this year alone, you’ve probably wondered, “Why didn’t anyone see this coming?” and ” What do I do now?”

Thankfully, you may not have been broadsided by floods, fires or earthquakes, but a random electric surge, a leaky pipe or a particularly aggressive burglar can stop you and your business in your tracks.

A previous article dealt with the issue of data protection. In this article we’re going to focus on other things you must consider in a disaster scenario. Whether you’re a big company with in-house experts and advisers or a small-business owner, you should just be as motivated to cover your ass in an emergency situation of any foreseeable sort.

Disaster Recovery and Prevention (DRP) prepares you to handle, recover and/or prevent work disruption, period.

For example, let’s pretend a sudden gas or chemical leak, or some virulent mold, prevents you from working in your office:

  • Where would you go to work? For how long are you prepared to do so?
  • How will you keep communication lines open with your clients, suppliers and customers?
  • Can you access your latest data/business/financial records from where you’ve moved to?
  • Have you insured the safety and integrity of your records and data?

Consider the following aspects of your business:

Physical: Do you have a record or video of the physical inventory of your office equipment? Photographs, videos and warranty records/product serial numbers can help facilitate insurance claims and replacement in case of theft or loss.

Financial: How much do you have as a safety buffer in case of emergencies?

  • Have you considered business interruption insurance?
  • Do you have disability insurance?
  • Do you have a current, accurate record of all your assets and liabilities?
  • Do you have a buffer for sudden out-of-pocket expenses? What if your business takes more time that you expected to get back on-track? What then?

When drawing up a disaster recovery plan, include all the aspects of your business that can be affected by internal and external factors. Basically, throw everything in. Your supply line can be hit by shortages, or leaps in manufacturing and transportation/shipping costs. What if you slip in the bathroom and break your wrist? If you do coding for a living, that’s a big problem.

Make a diagram of your business flow: its components, stages and processes, everything in it and the factors affecting it inside and out, and ID the vital links and those that support them. Pinpoint the areas where interruptions will irritate, where they won’t be that bad (and you can address them), and where it’ll hurt.

Only you know the ins and outs of your business, and because of this, the only one willing to go the extra mile to find out where things can go off-kilter. Prepare to stop them from happening, and have a back-up plan when you can’t. You’ve gotten your baby off the ground and running, now you just have to keep it going where you want to go as smoothly as possible.

Remember, change is the only constant. Prepare to roll with it, under it and then ride it.

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