For many businesses, even a few hours of downtime can cause immediate losses of productivity and revenue. In the event of a disaster on the scale of a hurricane, flood, fire, or a major plumbing leak or roof failure, the losses can be devastating and ongoing, often persisting for weeks or even months after the initial event. Without a solid disaster recovery plan, there is a good chance that your business will not survive the long-term effects. As many as 40 percent of businesses fail within five years of such disasters.
The Importance of Proper Disaster PlanningWhen disaster strikes, the stress of the situation can make it difficult to make the best decisions for your business if you are not prepared in advance. Time is critical during a disaster, and it could mean the difference between minimal damage and major losses. By taking steps to identify risks to your business and forming a concrete plan for operational continuity both during and after a disaster, you will be have the tools and confidence you need to take control of the situation when the worst happens. This will help you to minimize downtime and allow you to meet the needs of your clients with as little disruption as possible. To form a comprehensive disaster plan, there are several factors to consider:
- Possible risks and vulnerabilities – For a successful recovery plan, you need to know what types of risks your business will face, such as hurricanes and flooding in the Gulf Coast, or earthquakes and tornadoes further north. You also need to determine your vulnerabilities. For example, if you are a chemical manufacturer, you need to be aware of the risks posed by flammable materials at your facility. If you own an apartment complex, you need to consider the safety of your residents.
- Your most critical systems, equipment, and documents – In order to protect critical systems and materials during a disaster, and to prepare them for use afterwards, you need to identify which systems, equipment, and documents are necessary to your business and its operation after the disaster. This includes machines that are vital to production, computers, tools, and equipment used for daily operations, and important documents like contracts, personnel records, and client data. Once you have identified these items, you can plan how to handle them during a disaster and who will be in charge of their care.
- Service providers – To be ready for a disaster, you will need to consider service providers that can handle the recovery during and after the event. This includes contractors that can provide services like fire and water restoration, building cleaning, decontamination, repairs, demolition, and debris removal. By forming a relationship with such service providers, you will be able to respond quickly and minimize long-term damage, such as mold growth after a flood or soot damage and odors after a fire.
- Your personnel – To react to a disaster as effectively as possible, you need to work with your employees to create a comprehensive plan and keep them updated regularly on its procedures. By laying out what needs to be done during and after the event, and who is in charge of each step, you can avoid confusion and hasten the recovery process.