What would happen to your business if a fire or other disaster destroyed your office, your computer systems, and your inventory? Creating and maintaining a disaster recovery plan is a crucial, but often overlooked component of running any business. But having a plan in place is vital to a quick and efficient recovery in the event of a catastrophe. So how do you go about creating a disaster recovery plan, and who should be involved.
The first thing one should do is form a team to create and implement the plan. This team should include at least one high level decision maker who can sponsor the plan and make sure it gets the priority it deserves. In addition, someone representing the financial side of the business needs to be involved to make sure financial records, inventory, and personnel information is adequately covered and protected. Finally, people from information technology and communications will be needed as these two systems represent the backbone of any modern business.
Once the team is in place, critical components need to be identified and addressed. What systems, information, and technology must be up and running for you to operate your business? This list should eventually be all-encompassing, but at the core of the plan, identify the absolute essentials and begin the plan around those functions. In the event of a disaster, you need to be able to quickly get back up to speed with these basic functions in the least possible time.
Once these rudiments of the business has been identified and planned for, then build on this core with the next two or three levels of infrastructure required to bring the business back up to full speed. Assume you are starting with nothing, so the plan can’t be expected to resume full business operations overnight. There should be a staged recovery plan beginning with fundamentals and building on those.
Next, there needs to be a plan to communicate with employees, vendors, and clients in the event of a disaster. There should be an emergency contact sheet to get personnel essential to the implementation and success of the plan involved immediately. Then, as part of the recovery plan, certain personnel need to be identified to let others inside the company know what is expected of them, as well as letting clients and vendors understand the short and long term plan of recovery.
Once the plan is created, it needs to be copied and placed in accessible locations within the business and kept by key personnel away from the business itself. At least one copy should be stored in a secured, but accessible location, such as an online data storage facility for fast and easy retrieval when needed.
And finally, remember this plan can’t be carved in stone. It must be a living, breathing document, that will be reviewed, modified, and improved on as new business needs take place and new technologies make the old plan obsolete.