Author’s note: This article also appears on SMB Nation.
September is the Federal Emergency Management Association’s (FEMA) disaster preparedness month. This means a number of things for you and your family, but as you’re making your disaster plans for earthquakes, tornados, floods, and so forth, don’t forget about your business and any businesses you provide services to.
The first question to ask yourself is this: do you have a formal, written disaster plan? If not, it’s time to make one. As you go about planning, the most important considerations are your employees.
Keeping a business running after a disaster is important, but it’s not as important as the well-being of the people around you. A good disaster preparedness plan will include more than just getting systems back online. It will also lay out expectations you have for employees or clients and expectations they have for you. If a disaster happens while you’re all at work (a very likely scenario) do employees know what to do if there’s an earthquake? What about a tornado? Do they know the procedure for what to do after any disaster?
The other side of this is what if a disaster happens while employees are not in the office? Will they know what to do the following day? It’s important to think about how you’ll communicate with your employees or clients following a disaster. Certain methods of communication may not work in large catastrophes, but it’s important to find something that does.
There are lots of methods to communicate after a disaster. In fact, you might be able to send emails and update social media pages, but if all systems are down, you might be out of luck. That is, unless you have equipment prepared well ahead of time. Think carefully about how to communicate if the Internet and cell services are down.
Once the human aspect has been sorted, you need to think about your backup and recovery plan. Your disaster plan will probably cover human elements like those we mentioned above, but a backup and disaster recovery plan for your equipment is much different. We won’t go into the minutiae of building a plan here because there are some very detailed guides available that can do the subject more justice.
Once you’ve established expectations for different scenarios above, make sure appropriate protocols are in your written, formalized plan. Now share the plan with employees so everybody knows what to do. Once that’s done, the final and most important part of your plan is testing it, which should be your primary goal for disaster preparedness month. If you can test your plan and everything goes well, you’ll know you’re ready.
Whether we’re talking about your business or a client’s, you’ll really want to schedule a day to test disaster recovery plans. This way you can verify that people know what to do, and that your equipment can be put back online without any time or money-consuming hiccups.
I know, I know. Disaster testing sounds boring. But if you’re like Google, it can be fun. Google has been known to have themes for their disaster recovery tests. They’ll attribute various disaster scenarios to fictional attacks by everything from zombies to aliens, just to make a dull subject a little more interesting. Disaster testing doesn’t have to be boring, but it does have to be done if you hope to be ready for whatever nature throws at you.
How are you preparing for disaster preparedness month?
Photo credit: FEMA