Whether it’s a flood, a fire, vandalism, or a cyber attack, disaster could strike your business any day…but if you lost your infrastructure to fire or storm damage tomorrow, could you keep operating?
For many small and medium-sized businesses, the answer is no. The trouble is, disasters can severely damage a company’s reputation, profitability, and sustainability–make sure you’re prepared for a crisis with a proper contingency plan.
A disaster recovery plan, also known as a contingency plan, tells you and your employees what to do if something extraordinary happens to your business. Disaster recovery plans are:
- Prepared in advance;
- Simple and easy to follow;
- Focused on key vulnerabilities, such as equipment or data loss;
- Carefully considered and personal to your business.
Every contingency plan is unique. For example, if you manage a law firm, you’ll need plans for events such as cyber attack, infrastructure damage, and mass evacuations. If you operate a restaurant, you’re especially interested in vulnerabilities surrounding events such as fire and flood risks.
Building a Recovery Plan
If you don’t have a contingency plan, start now. Here are some tips to help you prepare.
You don’t need strategies for every eventuality. For example, you don’t need a tornado strategy if you’re nowhere near a tornado-prone zone. Focus on what matters to your business.
List everything you need to run your business on a day-to-day level. This can include phones, the internet, and anything else that’s critical for your daily operations. Plan what would happen if:
- You lost those vital services;
- How you would get them up and running again; and
- How long it would take to get them operating again.
Look at each risk–for example, vandalism, fire, terror attacks–in turn. Ask yourself what might happen, how you’d respond, and how you can prepare for these disasters.
Plan for the worst case scenario. There’s no such thing as being too prepared.
Once you know the scenarios, write them down in a clear, concise list. For each situation, write down what you can do to minimise the risks.
What’s important is that your list is easy to follow. It’s something you can refer to quickly in times of crisis–stick to key points only.
Ensure all your personnel know where to access the plan. Make sure they read and understand it. If you have the resources, make one employee a point of contact for all contingency plan-related queries. Most importantly, update your contingency plan based on feedback and any future risk assessments. Update it as your business grows and your needs change.