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State of Emergency

Friday, September 20, 2019

A Disaster Recovery Plan Checklist

Picture this: You’re driving across the state on a lonely highway, nothing and no one in sight. Suddenly and without warning your tire blows. You safely pull to the side of the road, but there you are—stuck. What’s the first thing you do? 

Now, using this situation as an analogy, let’s imagine your business is the car and the tire damage is any number of unforeseen events that can take your business offline. (If you want to add your employees as the screaming kids in the back seat, that’s okay too.) Chances are you’re immediately checking your spare tire—which just so happens to represent a disaster recovery (DR) plan. If you have one, great! Roll up your sleeves, pop it on, and your business is on its way. But what if you don’t have a spare? Instead, you opted to use the trunk space to store some extra gear, or maybe you have a spare, but you haven’t checked on it in a while, and it too is flat. Now your situation is a lot more complicated. Is there an auto shop you can call for help? How long will that take? WAIT, WHY IS THERE NO CELL SERVICE? Or worse yet, what if your blown tire is not replaceable?

The moral of this story is that it pays to be prepared. In the event of a disaster, it’s not just your time and energy on the line—your entire business could be at stake. To keep operations in drive after an unforeseen event, you’ll want to have a DR plan handy. To create one, simply consult our DR Checklist below and keep it in your glove box.

DR To-Do #1 – Make a list of critical jobs

Jot down all the jobs and duties that would have to be relocated for the business to continue regular operations. Then, highlight those jobs that you would consider mission-critical in a disaster situation. For example, customer service representatives and accounting personnel would likely be marked as critical, while telemarketers making outbound sales calls might be secondary, and on-site masseuses and yoga teachers probably at the bottom of your list. 

DR To-Do #2 – Inventory necessary office equipment

For each employee, list only the essential office equipment and furniture that they need to perform their jobs. Keep in mind that in the event of a disaster, space, money, and time will all be at a premium. Common necessary items include:

  • Computer/laptop
  • Telephones
  • Point-of-sale systems
  • Multifunction printer
  • Mailing equipment

DR To-Do #3 – Inventory company technology

Next, take a look at all critical company technology used behind the scenes. You’ve got the phones and the computers, but don’t forget the servers or applications they connect to that allow orders to be taken, materials to be shipped, invoices to be mailed, and payroll to be met. Take a  stroll around the office looking for some of the less obvious things that hold your business together, such as:

  • Backup servers
  • Software hard discs
  • Business phone system
  • Office safe

DR To-Do #4 – Plan for alternate office space

Now that you’ve got your staff and equipment accounted for—people, furniture, electronics, etc.—you will need a physical place to set up shop. This doesn’t mean that you have to rent space in advance and let it sit empty waiting for a disaster. What it means is that you should have a list of alternative places to relocate your business in the event of a disaster. Alternative resources can include:

  • Local real estate agents with knowledge of vacant office spaces
  • An agreement with a neighboring business to share office space if a disaster strikes
  • An established relocation option within your company or within your current building (for example, relocation to an empty part of the warehouse or an alternate floor)
  • A plan that allows employees to work remotely from home or from a local rented space until the office is restored
  • A list of coworking spaces in the area (e.g.,WeWork)

DR To-Do #5 – Estimate insurance and budget

After you’ve settled on where to relocate the team, you will need to replace any necessary equipment that has been destroyed. Estimate how much it will cost to replace each piece from the list of office equipment that you created in step #2. The time you spend now on this task will shave days off the recovery process later because you will be able to tell your insurance company exactly what you need, and you will likely receive an insurance check sooner than otherwise.

To apply for financial assistance after a natural disaster, contact FEMA. They can provide money for housing and other personal expenses, including food, clothing, and medicine.

For Disaster Assistance loans, check to see if one of these apply:

DR To-Do #6 – Share it and store it off-site

Like a spare tire with a nail through it, even the best disaster recovery plan won’t do you any good if it gets destroyed in a disaster or nobody can find it. The best strategy is to share your disaster recovery plan with at least one other person in your business, and make sure at least one copy is stored digitally or off-site. 

Call on the Cloud

If you’re not interested in the hassle (and potential lapses) of regularly backing up your data to hard discs and storing the discs safely off-site, you can use a cloud-based DR service provider to store copies of all critical software, data backups, and necessary files or documents digitally, securely, and automatically. When your data is backed up to the cloud, you can quickly and easily access it from any location with an internet connection in an emergency scenario, allowing you to enjoy the ride, knowing you’ve always got a backup plan.