Disaster Recovery: 4 Steps to Prepare Your Business for Disaster Survival (Part 1 of 3)

You can’t predict the unexpected, but you can prepare. A Business Continuation Plan (BCP) costs almost nothing to produce but is critical to recovering losses, and customers, after a disaster. This three-part Disaster Recovery blog series will address important considerations for business continuity after a disaster.

Up to 40% of businesses affected by a natural or human-caused disaster never reopen. (Source:  Insurance Information Institute)

If your business becomes disrupted by a power outage, tornado, chemical spill or other disaster, it can cost you lost profits and lost customers. Developing a plan to recover from such disasters will allow you to return to business as normal (or at least close to normal) much sooner. Your customers are counting on you to keep your promises to them. If you cannot deliver your service, they will be forced to go elsewhere. However, if they see that you have a business continuation plan in place and are able to recover quickly, they may never leave, or at least will have a much higher probability of returning to you as soon as you are ready.

BePreparedThe Business Continuity Institute defines Business Continuity (BC) as:  The capability of the organization to continue delivery of products or services at acceptable predefined levels following a disruptive incident.

There are four steps to preparing your disaster plan: analysis, design, implementation and validation.

1. Business impact analysis: Take a look at your business and identify the impact that various disasters could have on it.

2. Identify critical business processes: Consider the value that you bring to your customers and how you accomplish that. Make a list of the critical processes and resources that you need to deliver on the promises to your customers. Prioritize this list by the value that is created by each process and resource.

3. Develop a written recovery plan: This plan should be flexible to handle any particular disaster, whether it is an anticipated disaster or not. The plan must provide the quickest effective way to get your business back up and running. Your plan may include preparatory steps that you take prior to a disaster just in case an incident occurs. These steps may include having a computer system operating at a remote location with a backup of your data loaded and updated weekly or daily. Include training for your employees on how and when to implement the business continuation plan.

4. Practice, test and revise: Test your disaster recovery plan periodically to make sure it will work and to make sure that your employees understand what to do in the event of a disaster. This has the added benefit of informing your employees that you have a plan and expect to recover from any disaster that may come your way. This peace of mind will help retain existing employees, even if you need to lay them off for a week or two during the recovery.

You can find helpful information at www.ready.gov to prepare your family or your business for a disaster. Visit www.thebci.org for information from professionals in the business continuation planning field.

Many companies that experience a disaster and do not have a recovery plan in place never recover.  Companies that experience a disaster incident without a predefined plan in place will experience more costly delays and mistakes. The longer the recovery takes your company, the more the recovery will cost, the more customers you will lose and the more employees will find employment elsewhere.  Disasters with no recovery plan tend to create confusion and chaos.

Take some time to develop a plan. Involve your employees so they know you have a plan. Put it in writing. Take the necessary steps to provide for the most important processes and resources after a disaster. Train your employees and test your plan. Hopefully, all of this work will be a waste. If not, your business’s survival will rely on it.

-Ken Stephani, CPA, CIA

Series NavigationDisaster Recovery: Keep Your Business Running – Despite a Disaster (Part 2 of 3) >>
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