What plan do you put into action when a disaster renders your business location unusable? Here are 5 recovery steps to take in the event of a disaster.

Although no one has control over when a disaster might strike, your business can and should take steps to map out a clear path to recovery, especially when it involves your business location. Through a combination of in-house efforts (such as creating evacuation plans and due publicity) and those delegated to outside specialists like IT outsourcing companies (as with protecting servers and ensuring data recovery), you can comfortably relocate your business.

What Type of Disaster Should You Expect in your Place of Business?

Disasters can take many forms, including natural catastrophes like hurricanes, fires, and earthquakes. Cyber attacks, physical burglaries, and even simple human error can also propel you to move location. These events can cause immediate damage and force extended service outages that prevent your company from serving customers. How quickly you recover from a disaster depends heavily on how much planning you put in ahead of time.

Why You Must Have a Disaster Recovery Plan in Place

Resuming your business as quickly as possible after a natural disaster gives the business a better chance for both short-term survival and long-term success. However, depending on damages, reopening in the same location may not be an option.

You might be forced to consider relocating your business, either temporarily during a rebuild or permanently. Relocating a business after a natural disaster is challenging, especially without a plan prepared in advance. Consider hiring a commercial relocation management team that can assist you in planning and managing the move, giving you the time to focus on the many other matters you must deal with at this difficult time.

No matter where your company is located, it’s likely at risk for natural disasters. Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, flooding and other acts of Mother Nature can cause power outages, equipment damage, and Internet and server problems. And in today’s technology-driven environment, these disruptions can mean serious problems for your business. Below is a detailed guide on what to do when disaster renders your business location unusable.

What to Do When a Disaster Renders Your Business Location Unusable

  1. Call a strategy meeting

The very first step after a disaster must have rendered your business location unusable is to host a strategy meeting. Include the internal IT team and/or managed service provider, CEO, CFO and office managers. Discuss critical issues and share best practices about how to keep the business running after the disaster hits.

It will be the perfect time to implement the company’s disaster recovery or business continuity plan. This plan is meant to account for the worst-case scenarios that a natural disaster can bring. Set key roles and responsibilities and make sure everyone is aware of their responsibilities. This should include key IT people, business continuity managers and senior staff.

  1. Assign an implementation manager

It is important that one person assumes responsibility for making sure that each element of the plan is implemented. This may then be delegated out to various members of the IT department who would be responsible for sourcing suppliers, hardware, software, backing up data, ensuring tests are carried out, running recovery exercises, noting and maintaining key telephone numbers, passwords etc.? These persons should then ensure that each element has been completed.

  1. Moving IT Equipment in a Business Relocation

When your business is located on an upper floor of a damaged building, it might be easier to move your undamaged furnishings and IT equipment to your new location. If so, you need a solid plan for moving your IT equipment. Relocating IT equipment can be a complex process, so make planning a priority to avoid loss of important data and ensure your IT systems are fully operational in the new location when it opens.

Remember, when relocating your business after a natural disaster, it can be easy to forget things that may seem very minor right now, but could significantly impact your business moving forward. Your business’ online presence is one of them. As you work to get operational in your new location, endeavor to remember these things.

  1. Monitor the implementation

Its necessary you set dates for completion of delegated tasks and monitor progress against them. When should the temporary location be ready? When should documentation be finished? Business Continuity and relocation plan implementations can last a long time if their progress isn’t being driven.

  1. Test and meet board level interest

Once implementation has been completed, a full exercise should be scheduled. This involves running through the whole business continuity – disaster recovery plan, as if in an emergency situation, not just checking that your backup disk contains data. It’s only when you practice that you start to identify the elements of your plan that need more attention. Practice also gives you confidence so that in a real disaster your team can respond more effectively.

Don’t also forget that your plan should be of board level interest as it can save a business (or ruin it if not implemented properly). Make time at a board meeting to review the plan implementation. Show an interest in the strategy, what solutions are in place and how effective they have been during exercises.

Key questions to ask are “how quickly were the systems recovered, what could be improved, would the business survive if disaster occur again?” With the board showing an interest, it ia much more likely for your BCDR plan implementation to succeed.

Possible Challenges to Expect When Implementing Your BCDR Plan

Implementing an effective business continuity planning (BCP) is an essential requirement especially when your business location has been rendered unusable by disaster. Disasters strike at the most unexpected times and, when they do, you need to be prepared for the worst.

While most organizations recognize the importance of a BCDR plan, sometimes their ability to implement the plan successfully is limited by certain challenges. Below are key issues you need to be aware of…

  1. High and Prohibitive costs

Business continuity planning has become unbelievably expensive as availability requirements increase. A lot of solutions require substantial investments on the installation and maintenance of additional hardware, software, and data center infrastructure. These requirements drive up the cost of business continuity, and many company owners are reluctant to invest in protective measures.

But instead of depending on costly physical servers to accommodate your backups, consider using efficient and affordable cloud computing solutions. You can transfer your important business files to the cloud and eliminate the expense of having to install and manage hardware infrastructure and software licenses.

  1. Too much complexity

Normally, BCDR is complex to implement, manage and execute. From managing the recovery infrastructure to updating disaster recovery documentation and testing the plan to find and close potential loopholes, the prospect of embarking on a BCDR project can be tiring, and the whole experience can prove time consuming.

Combined with the pressure of the normal day-to-day duties; it can seem almost impossible to focus your attention on implementing a BCDR plan.

To remedy this you can choose to hire a professional service provider to plan, implement, and execute your business continuity plan. This way you can leverage their experience and expertise to ensure that you relocate and start functioning as soon as possible.

  1. No staff involvement

Agreeably, there are so many requirements to be considered in a business continuity and disaster recovery plan. And the more employees your organization has, the more difficult it is to relay the essence of the plan for everyone to understand. Staff involvement isn’t an option – it’s an absolute necessity if you wish for a successful BCDR implementation.

Although it all depends on the size of your organization, you can either hold a company meeting to announce the essentials of your BCDR, or schedule a meeting with key staff members who take an active role in the planning process. To create a long-lasting BCDR program, you need to get everyone on the same page by emphasizing the importance of the plan in an easy-to-understand way.

  • Conclusion

Don’t let a disaster tell the end of the business you’ve worked so hard to build. Although post-disaster recovery might not be easy, it can become more manageable when you create and maintain a detailed BCDR plan. In fact, having such a plan in place can be the difference between business survival and failure.

Joy Nwokoro