Protecting your business against different risks, including unexpected ones, is an essential part of the business. Natural disasters, fires, illnesses, and cyber-attacks can bring you operations to a standstill and cause you to feel hopeless. Without offices, power, internet service, or electronics, you may find yourself ultimately out of business. FEMA estimates that 40 to 60 percent of small businesses fail to reopen their doors after a disaster. Larger corporations may have an easier time due to access to resources. However, big or small, a disaster recovery plan goes a long way in ensuring business continuity. 

How To Create a Disaster Recovery Plan 

Your recovery plan depends on the type of disaster your business faces. Let’s explore some critical elements you should include in your plan. 

Insurance 

Business insurance is vital for the continuity of any business because it helps you cover the costs of recovering after a disaster. First, check your insurance policy to see what it covers and see if you need to upgrade it or get a separate cover for different risks. It’s essential to have policies that cover natural disasters, fires, and cyber-attacks, among other catastrophes. Keep a record off all property, both physical and intellectual, and take photos is necessary. Have your insurance agent note all items before agreeing on an appropriate cover for damages after a disaster. After a disaster, take pictures, records, and keep all receipts and appraisals to support your claim. 

Communication Plan 

Communication helps you manage stress levels, build trust, and minimize confusion among workers. The ideal communication plan should include all employee contacts to help you reach out after a disaster. Reassure the workers about their jobs and safety, and request that they keep in touch for further guidance. In your communication, ensure that you discuss: 

  • Timelines for reporting back to work
  • Duties after the disaster
  • Payments and wages 
  • Communication with clients about their projects 
  • Precautions against discussing the tragedy with external parties if necessary 

Emergency Response Plan 

When an emergency occurs, you need to know your next course of action. For example, when a fire starts, all workers must run to the exits and gather at an assembly point. An emergency response plan ensures that you and your employees know what to do. The first step should be to care for the health of each employee. Emergency supplies such as first aid kits, water, cash, food supplies, and emergency contacts are always essential for disasters. 

If no one is injured, your plan may entail different questions. Whom should you call when a cyberattack happens? Is there a designated formula for who gets called first, and who delivers the message to others? Once you create a guide, remember to assign roles to each worker and conduct training. 

Create a Business Continuity Plan 

After a disaster, it’s essential to have a plan that focuses on continuing business operations. This plan is known as a business continuity plan (BCP). The key difference between business continuity and disaster recovery is that your BCP swings into action immediately after a disaster or during the disaster. However, disaster recovery continues long after the incident to keep the business afloat until it returns to normalcy. A BCP usually includes: 

Business Impact Analysis (BIA): This is step happens before a disaster occurs. It helps you analyze various catastrophes and their impact on your operations. A BIA also enables you to estimate how long the effects last and how long it would take you to recover. Besides that, a BIA also helps you identify the legal and financial implications of any BCP program. Having an estimate of the costs beforehand helps you make arrangements before the disaster. 

Recovery Plan: After identifying the possible impacts of any disaster, the next step is finding possible ways to recover after a disaster. Recovery procedures help you mitigate the impact and swing back into action. For example, having data backups for all your information and records in separate servers or contracting third parties helps with recovery. You may also need plans for emergency power supply, computer and IT infrastructure, and office set up. 

Assigning Responsibilities: It’s crucial to have a plan that details each employee’s role in disaster recovery. With proper communication and role details, you can ensure that every worker helps your business achieve recovery objectives. Every worker should identify their role in creating work stations, setting up communications, recovering data, setting up secure information systems, contacting clients, and providing emergency relief, among other duties. 

Disaster Recovery for Physical Equipment: If you live in zones prone to water damage through floods and hurricanes, you should have a plan to protect your property before a disaster. Move all your computers, printers, and wiring from the floors and basements to higher areas. Alternatively, you can put them away for secure storage until the storm passes. Seal everything if you need to. 

Testing: No plan is complete without testing to check if the recovery procedures work or how long they take to implement. After testing, note the results and necessary updates. Testing should be frequent because some disasters change over time. Being prepared is the best way to stay afloat.

Written by Reciprocity Labs