After the recent spate of natural calamities seriously affecting parts of our country, now is an optimal moment to take some time to make sure your small business is well-prepared to meet anything that Mother Nature might throw at it.
A sobering statistic underlines the importance of being prepared: The National Archives and Record Administration recently reported that more than 90% of companies going through a major disaster experience a minimum of seven days of downtime. An even more disturbing fact is that too many of those businesses close within 12 months.
This blog post will explore the two main aspects of your small company’s goal to prepare for and mitigate the impact of a natural disaster:
- Physically preparing your company as much as possible against a threat
- Having a disaster recovery plan and a comprehensive IT backup system in place to mitigate the impact of any catastrophic event
TAKE STEPS TO PHYSICALLY PREPARE YOUR COMPANY
Assess Natural Threats
The first thing your company needs to do when coming up with a plan to physically protect your company is to assess the natural threats that are most likely to happen in your geographic region. For example, some areas are more likely to be hit by hurricanes and flooding, while others are more susceptible to earthquakes or tornadoes. Different threats require different protective measures involving architectural design, workstation layout, etc. Fires and power outages, however, can happen in any location. Take steps to protect your IT and other valuable assets from the dangers that can occur anywhere and then pay close attention to the likeliest geographic threats.
Protect Your Essential Material Assets
To avoid water damage from an impending storm or flood, make sure that your essential IT equipment including servers, computers, and other equipment are not on the ground and are stored away from windows. Also, unplug all equipment and turn off heating and cooling systems before a storm hits to avoid destructive power surges. If you have backup generators or other emergency systems, take time to test their readiness. If your physical location is seriously threatened by collapsing walls or ceilings or other structural damage, then it makes sense to evacuate as much critical, movable infrastructure as possible. All these steps should be evaluated on a cost-benefit basis using logical questions such as: Is it worth the cost of moving and storing this piece of equipment versus the cost (possibly subsidized by insurance) of purchasing a new one?
Develop Emergency Procedures and Train Employees
It is important to develop procedures to follow in the event of a natural disaster such as evacuation routes, employee assembly places and shelter areas, and emergency communication systems to alert employees. All employees should be given adequate training in these emergency procedures.
Your small business should also be well-equipped with essential emergency materials such as: first aid kits, fire extinguishers, emergency signage and lighting, flashlights, as well as battery-powered radios and communication devices. Some companies might also find it useful to store drinking water, non-perishable food and other supplies. Depending upon the age and overall health of your workforce, it may also make sense to have medical equipment such as oxygen tanks and defibrillators available
Make sure to regularly test your emergency procedures and all your onsite and offsite backup systems to ensure that your team and your systems are ready to meet the challenges of a natural disaster.
Confirm Essential Paperwork is in Order
It makes sense to confirm all your insurance policies are in order in case you need to file any claims. It also may be useful to distribute some relevant paper records such as contact information for all your employees to selected company leadership.
DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT DISASTER RECOVERY PLAN AND BACKUPS
As we’ve discussed in earlier blog posts, it is of critical importance that your small business has a disaster recovery plan and a robust backup of essential company data in place. No matter what happens in a disaster, you want to be able to restore your normal business operations as soon as possible and avoid expensive downtime. For this reason it’s essential to work with your trusted IT Support provider to develop a plan and have solutions in place to protect against any type of disaster affecting your company.
In short, data backup and disaster recovery solutions involve a comprehensive system to minimize data loss, maximize productivity and ensure uptime in the event of a natural disaster, cyber-attack, or any other situation that negatively impacts normal business operations. Much like an insurance policy, a backup and disaster recovery solution is an investment that keeps a business safe when trouble occurs.
Although a backup and disaster recovery plan cannot completely prevent all of the implications of a natural disaster, it will give you the peace of mind that any downtime will not destroy the financial future of the company.
For more information about formulating a disaster recovery plan please refer to our earlier blog post:
By taking the steps outlined above to physically prepare your company for a natural disaster and by having a comprehensive disaster recovery plan and backups in place, you can protect your company as much as possible from the destructive whims of Mother Nature.
For assistance in your natural disaster preparation and any other IT-related issues, please contact us here at Network Depot.