Any business can suffer from a disaster, such as a flood or fire or be seriously affected by cyber attack or staff illness. With all this in mind, it’s vital that as a business owner or senior manager you have disaster recovery procedures in place to guarantee business continuity.
When deciding if your business needs new disaster recovery procedures it’s important to initially ask yourself if your business can continue as normal in the event of severe weather (meaning staff can’t travel), your premises being flooded or a cyber attack.
If the answer is no then you may find our points below of great assistance!
1. Buy technology suitable for business
Many business start-ups often rely on IT equipment such as laptops that they have used in the past for personal use. This can be because they consider it more cost effective than investing in high spec, business-grade products. Cheaper options are not designed for prolonged daily use, and often are not capable of running modern software that business owners rely on.
2. Is it worth moving locations?
Is your business premises located in a flood risk or hard to reach area? If the majority of your staff are having to travel large distances or your location is often effected by poor weather conditions, it could be time to consider moving.
A purpose built office block or newly developed business / industrial park will have reduced risks over a facility that is located by a river or in a rural location.
3. Empower staff with the right equipment
If your staff are unable to attend the office, or your premises has been destroyed, your business can only continue if your staff have the right equipment. Larger businesses obviously have the luxury of sending employees to a different site, but other businesses should look to provide staff with the capability of working remotely. This could involve an initial up front cost for equipment and software, but enabling staff to continue working from home could be crucial to keeping the money coming in!
4. Back up data externally
The traditional policy of simply making a hard back up of your systems on site is no longer part of recognised back up protocols. If your premises is affected by a flood or a fire then these backups could obviously be destroyed, but even if they survive it could be several days before you can gain entry to retrieve them.
5. Consider cloud based telephony
Cloud based telephony or VoIP will guarantee you and your employees can continue to make and receive business phone calls from any location. Using services such as call diverts and mobile twinning will mean your customers can still contact you and your business continues to operate as normal. In many cases you will also save money on bills as calls are made and received over your broadband connection, rather than traditional phone line.
All services can be activated and modified instantly using an online platform.
6. Spread your suppliers
Even if your business has the very best technology and disaster recovery procedures in place it doesn’t mean that others do to. Have you considered what would happen if you lost a big supplier?
You should consider if it is worth spreading your suppliers to minimise the affect of one of them suffering a disaster. It is also recommended that you speak to your suppliers to learn what procedures they have in place, it could seriously influence your decision of whether or not to work with them.
7. Compile and securely store important contact information
Have a list of your staff, biggest customers, suppliers, contractors and insurance companies. This should be a go to file in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. It could also be something you share with your team to ensure a copy is always on hand and can be acted on promptly.
8. Use multiple data storage locations and think securely
Consider doing multiple back ups, rather than just weekly or monthly, and store them in different locations. Ensure all your company IT equipment is regularly maintained and is protected by the latest anti-virus software.
In many cases viruses find their way into your systems due to staff using their equipment for purposes other than work. Introduce a policy which your staff sign into where they agree stay within strict usage guidelines.
9. Review your insurance policy
When was the last time you really studied your business insurance? Does it cover you for flood, fire and storm damage, and will it cover the large investment you just made on new hardware? You will also want to safe guard against the overall disruption to your business and the costs of any repairs.
If you picked the cheapest option when you last renewed the chances are you will not be sufficiently covered. As you invest more and / or grow as a business your insurance policies should be comprehensive and safeguard against major losses.
10. Regularly review your disaster recovery procedures
So you’ve now implemented your disaster recovery plan and your business continuity is guaranteed, great!
Everything should be regularly reviewed, and if needed, changed. Things such as staff illness or a member of your team moving elsewhere could mean a crucial part of your new plan is missing. It should be known within your organisation who is responsible for what, and if needed training should be provided to ensure compliance.