Why Your Small Business Needs a Disaster Recover Plan and How to Build One
Do you need a Disaster Recovery and a Business Continuity plan? The answers to the following questions will dictate what your response must be.
Do you have clients?
Do you have employees?
Are you providing products and services that your customers value?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you absolutely need to have a plan ready to go in case of any kind of disaster. If you need further convincing, see the devastation brought by Hurricane Harvey to the Texas coast. The guy in this picture must have a plan, as he is comfortable enough to float out the flooding.
What is a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) and what is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP): Many people view these plans as being the same, but while they are related, they are actually different. DRP refers to the ability to restore your data that is used to run your business, should your servers or other IT infrastructure become damaged. BCP is a planned strategy for restoring your business to operational status with minimal interruption. The BCP is the entire restoration plan for all of your business operations, while the DRP is concerned with the IT and data.
The Key Elements of Creating a DRP & BCP:
Communication of the Plan & Defining Key Roles & Assignments
Your plan should be a formal document that defines roles and assignments for all employees in an emergency. First and foremost, the details of this plan need to be communicated to your entire workforce. The plan must include a current list of all employees with all of their contact information. The plan needs to spell out clearly the responsibilities that are assigned to each employee. Each role defined in the plan should have a backup person assigned, in case the emergency affects employees to a greater or lesser degree. The plan should be periodically reviewed and updated when necessary, and employees kept informed.
Plan for Your Equipment
What do you do if a major storm is approaching? You should have a plan to protect your all of your equipment inventory. This is vital to all businesses, even a consulting firm with no equipment other than computers. Machinery, vehicles, tools, etc. need to be protected as well as office- related assets.
An assessment is needed to gain a clear understanding of the data your company needs to access in order to continue to function and service clients in an emergency situation. This part of the plan is key and should be your number one concern. The ability to access the data and software used to run your business is the means that enables you to remain operational.
Back Up Check
Is your data backed up? You need to have your data backed up so you can recover it, if the worst-case scenario occurs. How your company performs the data backup is dependent on how your IT operations are structured. Backing up your data should be performed regularly, not just in case of emergencies, but to help managing an unforeseen emergency. We all know this, but often it gets overlooked until a problem occurs.
An updated inventory of your hard assets (equipment, tools, computers, etc.) needs to be included in the plan, not only to protect it, but if the worst happens, you will need an inventory in order to help the insurance company process your insurance claim in a timely manner.
Take before and after pictures. It is a great idea to have pictures of your entire inventory. What did your facility and equipment look like before the event; what did it look like after the event? A clear picture of the damage can also be helpful in working on a claim, particularly when there may be negotiation with your insurance company over the cause of the claim, i.e., wind or flooding. Pictures can be important tools to help get the claim processed and can certainly speed up the process.
Vendor Communication & Service Restoration Plan
It is a good idea to pre-plan communications so you can deliver updates and messages to you clients and vendors. In your plan, you can save draft messages that inform affected parties of your current status, i.e. you have back up operations starting in a new location, and your interruption in service will be temporary. If you pre-plan some of the messages, it makes it easier to manage a stressful situation, as you can rely on the prep work you completed when you drafted the plan to help alleviate stress.
Your plan should periodically be updated, and part of the plan is ongoing communication to your employees so they are aware of the plan. Remember, as you onboard or exit employees, you will need to make updates to your plan in order to revise the employee list and contact details.
How Can Small Business Leverage Technology to Its Advantage?
One of the advantages of being a small business is that you can easily build your back-office operations in the Cloud. When you access information in the Cloud, most of your IT and data concerns are addressed by the Cloud providers. Many small businesses do not need to own and manage servers, lessening the burden of data management and backup. In many ways, this is a competitive advantage for a small business. As long as your employees can get to a location with internet access, you can access data and communicate with your employees, customers, and vendors. Building your operations in the Cloud also gives your employees greater flexibility to work away from the office, helping you to function as seamlessly as possible and deliver timely service to your customers in times of emergency.
CFO Shield in the business of helping small business to understand the market place, create the strategic plan, execute that plan, and achieve the prosperity that is your goal. We leverage our offerings and enable small businesses to solve problems and share in the same economies of scale that larger companies enjoy. We have the experience needed to create customer-centric solutions to help small business owners better manage their back office and help them formulate strategies to adequately manage working capital, thereby ensuring stability and prosperity.
To find out more, visit CFOShield.com.