Fire Season Is Here: Is Your Business Disaster Recovery Plan Ready?
Whether it’s wildfires in the West, hurricanes in the South, flooding in the Southeast or tornadoes in the Midwest, natural disasters seem to affect every corner of the United States—and what’s worse, they also seem to be getting larger in scope every year.
As NPR’s Kirk Siegler noted after 2018’s disastrous Camp Fire—the most destructive in the history of California, a state that’s seen its share of out-of-control infernos—“disasters like wildfires, floods and hurricanes are increasing in size, severity and frequency.”
And that’s not all: The same report pointed out that, despite this escalation in yearly disasters, Americans rarely rise to the challenge of preventing them. Rather than preparing for the now-predicable annual onslaught of fires, storms, earthquakes and floods, the tendency is, instead, to react to them after the fact, spending our energy (and money) repairing damage rather than putting in the work to prevent that damage in the first place.
Especially for businesses, this is not a healthy attitude to have. Think of all the effort you’ve put in preparing for long-term success—cultivating your audience, crafting a winning marketing message, winning over customers, optimizing your operations to operate at the peak of your capabilities, and so on. Why risk it all by failing to prepare for a natural disaster?
Because, while it’s true that most disasters can’t really be prevented, there’s no denying the wisdom in taking whatever steps you can to minimize the damage and disruption they cause. To this end, a business disaster recovery plan has become an essential component for any organization that’s aiming for not just success but longevity.
And even if you do have a business disaster recovery plan in place, we’re now living in an era when last year’s model may no longer be good enough. At a time when the scope of disasters is constantly escalating, how can you be sure that the recovery plan you created a few years ago is still up to the task of protecting your business when it really matters?
While there’s no way to be 100% sure, there are a few questions you can ask yourself to make sure you’re still standing on solid ground.
4 Questions to Make Sure Your Business Disaster Recovery Plan Is Up to the Task
Have You Updated Your Risk Analysis? The foundation for any business disaster recovery plan is a risk analysis, designed to give you as clear an image as possible of the most immediate threats in your geographical vicinity. This involves determining the disasters that may affect the communities in which you operate, as well as the disruptions that those events could cause to your business and customers.
On a surface level, every region generally understands the specific risks it faces, be they geological in nature (earthquakes), weather-related (hurricanes and tornadoes) or a combination of the two. Some of these events can be anticipated more than others; yet all of them can be prepared for, in some capacity.
So, take another look at your risk analysis, paying close attention to:
- Updated threats, based on the activity that’s occurred in your community in recent years.
- Varying scope of severity these events may have, and the likely impact afterward.
- Specific amount of warning time you may have in the case of any of these events.
- Likelihood of back-to-back events that could compound the level of risk.
Action Item: A risk analysis is too important to be done casually, or to be left static. We recommend seeking out an expert to help you update your risk analysis on a yearly basis.
Are Your Facilities Fully Prepared and Up-to-date? It’s essential to make sure that any and all physical infrastructure you own or operate is current with the latest guidelines in your area. Office buildings, contact centers, warehouses, data centers—any buildings that could be susceptible to damage from a natural disaster—need to be assessed and annually brought up-to-date, if possible.
To this end, your business disaster recovery plan should include periodical assessments of the quality of the safety precautions in your physical facilities. They should include alarm systems, fire-and-smoke detection, water sealing, cooling and ventilation, and other essential elements. You should also ensure you’ve got a backup power source to keep critical systems up and running during outages.
For businesses with a wide enough scope of operations, it’s also wise to ensure that any data centers and call centers are—in addition to being as secured as possible against natural disasters—physically dispersed to spread out the risk of damage. This is the best way to prevent data loss or the inability to communicate with clients and their customers during critical times.
Action Item: Undertake a professional assessment of your facilities to ensure they’re fully up to code in terms of disaster preparedness. Then, schedule a follow-up for six months in the future. Refresh and repeat.
Is Your Data Back-up Plan Up-to-date? No matter what industry you operate in, there’s a very good chance that digital technology is a big part of your operational foundation. These days, most businesses use technology to not only communicate with customers but also to store records and run the software on which at least some part of their operations depend.
It stands to reason, then, this technology should be backed up as much as possible, so in the event that it fails—-due to a natural disaster or any other disruption— our operations aren’t brought to a standstill, and your customers and clients aren’t left without a means to communicate with you.
So, whether you own and operate your tech infrastructure or source it to a third party, it’s imperative to make sure there’s a backup plan in place. You should be able to transfer your tech footprint to another location in another area without any loss of information or operational capacity for your business—and be able to do so with little to no downtime.
Action item: Even if you manage your own tech infrastructure, consider enlisting the assistance of a third party that can offer a true expert assessment of your backup plan, as well as a full range of options to help you get a functional back-up plan in place.
Have You Recently Vetted Your Vendors? With most businesses, the use of third-party vendors is a necessity, a way to perform certain functions of your business plan that you may not have the capacity or expertise to fulfill yourself. It’s also true these vendors could frequently change, whether it’s because they’ve gone out of business, been outbid by a rival or a number of other reasons.
It’s essential then to ensure that any vendors with which you do business are as fully prepared for natural disasters as you are. After all, any failure on their parts could mean disruption for your business, too. And this means not only making sure those businesses are prepared for events in your region, but in any other places in which they may operate, too.
Action Item: Consult all of your vendors to make sure they have business disaster recovery plans in place. Make a point of asking for this information from all new vendors, too.
Need Help with Your Business Disaster Recovery Plan? Call the Experts.
If you’re not fully confident in your ability to meet all the above criteria, it may be time to call in the experts. With more than 20 years of experience helping businesses prepare for disruptions of all shapes and sizes, Working Solutions can offer the expertise you need to ensure your disaster plan is truly up to speed.
Learn more about how we can help: Contact us to schedule your complimentary consultation with a Working Solutions business disaster planning expert.Let's connect.