“Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”
Never before has an expression been more relevant. While we’ve all heard it many times before, disaster recovery plans are undoubtedly one of those things that falls by the wayside. There are always more imminent concerns within a company and – when it’s a busy period – business as usual will often trump hypothetical ‘what ifs’. Recent events have taught companies that there’s a fundamental need for disaster plans, and that it’s too late trying to muddle together a plan when the chips are already down.
Not all risks or disasters are on the scale of a global pandemic, but preparing for the very worst can often cover the vast majority of smaller and more common occurrences. So, what are some of the risks and disasters that your business should prepare for?
Disaster Recovery Plans Should Cover:
- Power outages
- Natural disasters
- Systems being hacked
- Closure of offices
- Loss of Wi-Fi
- Theft of equipment
- Acts of God
Undoubtedly, one of the most crucial things to lose is your ability to communicate; be it internally or externally. Not only do disaster recovery plans require you to be able to contact someone to resolve the issue, but a lack of communication also brings the running of your business to a standstill. So, let’s look at the most important factors when creating a disaster recovery plan:
Identify VoIP Backup Plans
Communication should always be top of your priority list when it comes to your disaster recovery plan. Fortunately, VoIP telephone systems are ahead of the game in the respect they are connected to a cloud; ensuring that power outages won’t result in the loss of data. Other more traditional phone systems require regular backing up, usually through a hybrid of cloud and external hard drive. Another benefit of this is that employees are able to access the VoIP phone system when working remotely, ensuring business as usual can continue regardless of whether or not the office is open.
Plan For Internet Outages
VoIP phone systems require an internet connection to work, which allows an abundance of freedom in terms of employees working remotely and taking calls on-the-go. That being said, if the internet goes down in your office, it may be helpful to make sure you have a backup plan in place, such as access to a more traditional phone line. Alternatively, it’s always good to have a softphone set up so you can easily switch from relying on the office Wi-Fi to your data with minimal effort of impact; it simply means your business phone number can be used via your mobile.
Communicate With Your Service Providers
Regardless of your communication system, it’s always a good idea to discuss disaster recovery with your service provider. They may already have a strategy in place, or be able to offer the best plans of action for you to take should something go awry. Any new technology will have pitfalls, and it’s important to address these and your disaster recovery actions for any downtime sooner rather than later.
Transition To Home Working
There are certain disasters that may be slightly more long-term than the office internet cutting out, and which may require staff to temporarily relocate. It’s important to identify how easy this would be for your office to do in a relatively short period of time, with minimal impact to business as usual. Are your employees able to perform their roles when working remotely? Will you be able to carry on functioning as a team when you’re not meeting face-to-face? Are your business phone numbers able to be easily redirected to personal phones? There are two sides to this particular issue: the more technical one, regarding relevant equipment and security measures, but also ensuring your team is supported and doesn’t feel abandoned or out of the loop.
Identify Key Workers
If you’re put in a situation where your business needs to run with a skeleton staff for a short period of time during or after a disaster, it’s necessary to have identified key members of staff. It may also be worth identifying their substitutes, should they be unable to perform their roles for any reason.
Have Emergency Evacuation Plans
Some disasters can be more sudden, such as an office fire or flooding. Every office should have an emergency evacuation plan in place, including clearly marked emergency exits, and meeting points away from the office. You should also have: fully trained first aiders, fire marshals, relevant fire fighting equipment and easily accessible first aid kits. Offices should run regular drills to make sure their teams are prepared in case of a real emergency. Evacuation plans are imperative as part of disaster recovery, so if you’re unsure of how many trained marshals or first aiders your office should have, use St. John’s Ambulance’s online calculator.