Disaster Planning

Chances are your company does not have a disaster plan. For many small businesses planning for a disaster seems like a waste of time...and hopefully it will be! But if a tornado does strike or your building burns down, how will your company survive?

Survey Your Systems

Work out ahead of time the order in which you should restore mission critical services, and even decide what services are critical to your organization. If you only have one working phone line, is e-mail more important than a telephone, or your fax machine? Different employees or departments may have different ideas about what is important. Decide if you need a backup Internet provider if your DSL or T1 connection goes down. If you take a few minutes to work this out ahead of time, you can even put a backup Internet connection in place, ready to implement in case of an outage.

In case of equipment failure, have contact information for vendors from which you can quickly obtain spare parts. To avoid shipping delays, a local vendor usually works best. Some vendors may be willing to store spare parts or even pre-configured computers at their site.

Contact Information

If your phone system fails, you will need to have contact information for your phone service provider as well as your telephone system vendor. Beforehand, make sure you can call to temporarily forward your phone numbers to other numbers, such as a cell phone or another office. Some phone providers can even configure their system ahead of time to automatically forward calls if they detect an outage.

Provide employees alternate contact information for someone in your company who can authorize purchases or repair services, as well as those employees and vendors who have detailed knowledge of your systems. Also keep copies of insurance information off site. The faster insurance agents are contacted, the faster they can begin processing claims. A company phone tree may prove to be quite useful in disseminating information quickly.

Maintain off-site contact information for important suppliers and distributors, so you can stop, delay, or reroute shipments already in transit. Keeping your distributors and customers informed can help minimize the amount of business lost if they need to go elsewhere.

Working Off Site

If your office has a serious fire, or a tornado strikes, you may not be able to gain entry for several days or weeks...if ever! You need to have a plan for conducting your business elsewhere in the meantime. While this is easier for a service organization than a retail or distribution company, at least some planning should be performed.

If you keep a copy of your critical information and backup disks or tapes off site you can quickly install a duplicate drive in another computer to access your data, even if that information is slightly outdated. Your fireproof safe in the office will not help you if you cannot access it!

If you want to go beyond a safe deposit box, you can send your data to a remote location over the Internet. However this does require a high level of trust for that service.

January 2001

Send this article to a friend!
Subscribe to The ITS Connection