In all the day-to-day hustle of buying and selling, business continuity (also known as disaster recovery) is something to easily forget about. Business continuity deals with resuming your company’s operation after some disaster occurs which temporarily suspends it. A prudent company will make sure they have a detailed business continuity plan and that it is accessible by all employees. After a disaster is not the time to figure out how to resume your business operations. Not having a business continuity plan can mean permanently halting your company. Here are some key considerations you need in order to make a plan to sustain your business in the event of a disaster.
You should do a risk assessment first.
A risk assessment is a process of identifying all of the potential threats that could disrupt your business operations. Why do businesses go through the trouble of a risk assessment ? Why don’t they just prepare for any threat? Risks have to be prioritized so that focus can be placed on making disaster recovery strategies for those that are most likely to happen. For example, if your business is in the arid southwestern United States, you don’t need to identify hurricane as a risk therefore you don’t need to spend time on planning for recovery from one.
List in your plan the people who are key players in your business operations.
These are people who perform the job functions that your business cannot do without. Not everyone in the business is critical and in some disaster situations a business would have to operate on a skeleton crew. The people who would be on that skeleton crew are the ones who would be your critical employees.
Your plan must list all critical equipment.
Critical equipment like computers, printers, copiers, and communication devices are all examples of items that your business might not be able to do without. Your business may also depend on specialized equipment. Your plan should give instructions for moving this equipment or you may have designated an alternate site where this equipment must be present.
Identify all paper documents critical to your business operations.
This is why it is important to have a filing system where these documents can be identified. You need to identify all documents related to accounts payables (e.g., utility bills, leases, bills for critical services). Also important are customer contracts, banking documents, documents related to the formation of your business, and tax documents. Think about what documents you would need if you need to start your business all over again.
Locate all computer file backups and installation software.
You should have a computer file backup strategy already in place which includes both on-site and off-site backups. Also important is identifying all of the install software needed to make computers at the alternate location operational for your specific business requirements.
Where are you going to relocate when the need arises ?
In some cases, your staff might be able to work from home. Otherwise, you will need to identify the place, wherever it is, that you will set up and resume operations. The alternate location should have the minimum facilities required to run your critical equipment and computers plus have sufficient telephone lines.
Don’t forget to test your business continuity plan.
This involves doing a full dry run of switching over to your alternate location. Remember that continuity plans and backups are oftentimes given low importance until you need them. Actually, they should be given the highest of priority so that the plan executes smoothly.