At any time, a disaster can occur that can take a company down in a matter of hours. From natural disasters to full-scale information security breaches, any organization can fall prey at any time. Consider the great loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, thousands of formerly booming businesses, and a severe impact on the southeastern economy that hurricane Katrina caused – some economists consider to have been the catalyst for the 2007 recession.

While an organization may believe that it’s invincible, it’s more reasonable to prepare for the worst by developing a business continuity and disaster recovery plan.

There are specific steps that can help your business to stay afloat in even the worst case scenarios.

A 5-Step Disaster Recovery Plan

Step 1 – Document and Insure Your Assets

Being able to understand your organizational risks means knowing exactly what you have in terms of assets. Take time to develop an accurate inventory program of your equipment, products, information assets and people resources. Keep information up to date at all times. Create a video record of your buildings, property, and materials, and insure it for the maximum amount. Maintain current employee records with emergency contact information.

Step 2 –  Create a List of Likely Threats

Before you panic, take the time to evaluate what your true risks are for the region and the type of industry you are in. Assign an off-site storage or work site in case you must leave your current business location during an evacuation. In some cases, you may be able to partner with a vendor to provide you with the option to work remotely from another site if this happens. Get with local disaster recovery services to determine what your company actually needs to be worried about.

Step 3 – Establish a Business Continuity Strategy

Depending on the type of organization you have, you may or may not be able to temporarily shut production down during a disaster. Choose a method for keeping your information safe through a secure cloud server rental program, and make sure all data is regularly backed up. Include your internal HRIM system as well as vendor files and customer documents. Decide how your company will keep going and what critical activities are needed to accomplish this.

Step 4 – Assign a Disaster Response Team

Being prepared for a disaster means to quickly respond in an organized fashion when it does occur. This requires assigning specific people to certain tasks and steps that should be carried out before, during and after. This is a good time to create a quick list for each department and review it with an assigned team of department leaders. Establish a telephone call chain so that the team can contact employees and let them know what to do.

Step 5 – Communicate Your Plan

Once you have your disaster recovery plan in place, it’s time to educate and communicate the plan to your entire team. Start with your managers and then hold information sessions via live meetings, webinars, videos, email, and written documentation. Be sure to update and review your business continuity plan at least once per year, and make it easy to find in case you are not able to administer it in a future disaster event.

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