Answer a simple question for me:
How long can your business be disrupted before it becomes a problem?
Depending on your business, your answer will hinge on several considerations. Customer service and profitability are usually the two biggest factors. If your business can’t afford downtime in the event of a disaster – and most can’t – you’ll need to establish a contingency plan.
Why a Contingency Plan?
You may think that if your business isn’t located in an area frequented by natural disasters like floods and hurricanes, you’re safe.
It’s a false security, however, because there are plenty of things that can disrupt your business and its data. Events like storms, fire, vandalism, and power outages can wreak havoc on your business if you are not prepared.
When events occur that render your business inoperable, a contingency plan can help you to recover more quickly. Having a contingency plan in place before a disaster will allow you to continue operation of your critical business functions until the emergency is over.
Elements of a Contingency Plan
It might seem like overkill to prepare for something that may never occur, but if your business is disrupted by an emergency you’ll be glad you did. A solid contingency plan is made up of three elements:
- Data Backup Plan
- Disaster Recovery Plan
- Emergency Mode Operation Plan
It’s not enough to just do two and quit. You have to have all three in place if you hope to recover quickly in the event of an emergency.
Data Backup Plan
Think about all the data your business uses. Customer information, accounting records, internal communications… all of these are important to your daily operations. A disaster might render this information unavailable. A data backup plan establishes what data needs to be preserved and how it is to be retrieved.
Disaster Recovery Plan
A data backup plan is merely the first step. You also have to consider the hardware and software you’ll need to make the data useable. Identify and prioritize your critical systems and data. Establish procedures to restore the elements that are the most critical to your operations.
Emergency Mode Operation Plan
Both your data backup and disaster recovery plans are incomplete without a plan to implement them in the event of an emergency. Your emergency mode operation plan is where the other two plans merge. And while it’s important to establish the hardware and software necessary in an emergency, you must also know who is responsible for the deployment of this plan. Without a strategy for implementation, you could be as helpless as you would be if you didn’t have a plan at all.
Know How the Contingency Plan Should Deploy
When creating your contingency plan, you will want to assign roles for your staff in the event an emergency should occur. This includes defining the roles and responsibilities for all job functions in your company, from interns all the way up to management. Once you do this, you can prioritize these roles and assign the appropriate levels of security for each. Determine who has the authority to view, alter, retrieve, and restore data. Spell out the circumstances and purposes for those authorized to handle data in the event of an emergency. And, perhaps most importantly, make sure all of this is written down. A hard copy of staff roles and responsibilities will be useful when disaster strikes and it’s all-hands-on-deck.
Test and Revise Regularly
It’s not enough to just create a plan. You must test this plan and make any necessary revisions. Once you have the plan established, test it regularly. This is especially true after any significant change in your business environment – a new location, new equipment or software, or a staff change that affects the authority roles in your plan. Just like a fire drill or safety training, a contingency plan operates best when it is practiced and adjusted as necessary.
Technology has made our world more connected and efficient, but one emergency can put your business at risk. If you don’t have a contingency plan in place, you are betting against your company’s success in the long term. Not sure how to create and implement a contingency plan? Lieberman Technologies can help you to assess business needs and establish the policies and procedures necessary for a reliable plan. Don’t let your business go one more day without a plan in place!
Don’t Wait. Get started on a Contingency Plan Today.
Contact Lieberman Technologies to get help in establishing a contingency plan for your business data.