Many companies try and put off deciding on a Disaster Recovery plan for their business as the need for such a plan seems unlikely, but thinking like this can be a disaster in itself. When asking, “Do I need Disaster Recovery?” the answer is normally a resounding, “YES!”

Despite the dramatic sounding name, Disaster Recovery, or Business Continuity Planning is a vital part of every business – and can cover things from the major disasters, like hurricanes, fire or flooding, down to the smaller but no less damaging, like power outages caused by careless workmen, or sickness of key personal. All these events have the potential to damage your business and your income to varying degrees and this is where the Disaster Recovery Strategy comes in.

Depending on what your business does depends on where you need to focus your attention when you draw up your risk management, and disaster recovery or business continuity plans. For instance, if your business is reliant on Information Technology then you may have more of a focus on system recovery, if you are dependant on other companies to provide parts for your products, you may wish to focus on safe-guarding your supply chain.

The plan should outline who decides that the disaster recovery plan needs to be implemented, and who needs to be contacted and how to contact them after an event has triggered the plan. It also should take into account that if a catastrophic event such as a tornado, terrorist attack or fire has happened, that many employees may have other things on their mind then getting back to work.

It also needs to identify the systems that your business cannot function without, and the impact on your business of having that system down. The general “rule of thumb” is the more disruption caused the more money you need to set to one side for ensuring that it can be restored quickly. Again depending on your business, you may decide that it is prudent to have a completely separate office, fully equipped, so you can move to that temporarily in the event of a disaster minimising your downtime, or you may decide that you can afford 24 hours to bring your systems back up.

Although there are many points that you can cover in your disaster recovery plan, there are some you should ensure you have in there:

  • Make sure that your have “understudy” emergency staff, it is possible that the main emergency, or health & safety staff will be unavailable when a disaster hits.
  • Have a contingency plan in place in the event your CEO is unavailable which includes who will “step up” if needed.
  • Decide meeting places that are offsite and put in place crisis communication plans for your top executives and designate people to contact employees, emergency services, and customers.
  • Ensure you have an alternative means of communication in case your internal phone networks are down.

Once your plan is drawn up, you should organise regular drills and ensure they are realistic enough to allow you to get a good idea of how everyone will react when things start to get stressful. It is also a good idea to establish a relationship with local emergency response groups such as police, fire fighters and paramedics.

So, now you know the answer to, “Do I need disaster recovery?” you can start to take steps to protect your staff, and your business in the event of a disaster of any size.