Read about the legal issues related to planning for disasters and what happens after one strikes. The Committee's video on disaster preparedness was recently honored with a Gold Stevie® Award. From the unexpected absence of a key staff member to a natural disaster, threats to your ability to maintain your business can come from anywhere at any time. For many larger businesses, emergency and disaster recovery planning is a widely accepted and understood requirement. The goals of a business continuity plan should be to maintain maximum possible service levels during any event, and ensure that business critical departments recover from interruptions as quickly as possible. Continuity plans must be regularly tested, as unforeseen emergency situations can arise at any time.
Without adequate consideration of the risks that an organization faces, it is impossible to draw up any sort of plan to minimize their impact.
Disaster recovery and business continuity planning should be viewed as an insurance policy.
This information will be used to develop recovery strategies.Recovery StrategiesIf a facility is damaged, production machinery breaks down, a supplier fails to deliver or information technology is disrupted, business is impacted and the financial losses can begin to grow. Staff with in-depth knowledge of business functions and processes are in the best position to determine what will work. The most critical step in being able to recover from a disaster is being prepared for one in the first place.
Anyone who has actually managed a business' recovery from a disaster knows that the most critical factor when it comes to business and operation continuity is having a plan in place before the disaster strikes.
Disaster preparedness means having, at the very least, the data and apps that are required to keep day-to-day operations already running in a remote location and ready to access. In short, IT contingency in wake of emergencies should be as seamless, as compliant with corporate security policies, and as easy for end-users to access as possible.
Easier Than Ever Such disaster preparedness is easier than ever for companies to deploy because of changing trends in technology.
Almost three-quarters of the largest segment of business and the economy, SMBs, currently do not have an emergency contingency plan.
Disaster preparedness can be implemented for lower costs than ever, thanks to technologies such as cloud computing and virtualization.
Although no one can predict when, where, or what kind of disaster will strike, a good first step in disaster preparedness is in knowing what types of disasters an area is more subject to experience. The problem, of course, is that IT may not be familiar enough with the inner workings of other departments in a business to know what's required in the time of disasters.
3 Steps For Disaster Preparedness Pre-Planning Pre-planning is a must before even documenting a disaster preparedness policy.
Thinking about the disasters most likely to affect the immediate area (but also recognizing the need to plan for unexpected catastrophes). Scheduling inter-department meetings so that business processes outside the scope of IT are accounted for and included in the disaster preparedness plan.
The next article in our series, "Outlining a Plan," details and documents how to draft a formal Disaster Preparedness plan, including identifying mission-critical data and systems, assessing the best plan for cost-effective and near seamless business continuity, and getting buy-in from the entire organization. Disasters can happen anywhere, and with data multiplying by the day, businesses increasingly rely heavily on email, instant messages, social media, and other electronically generated information.
Disaster recovery planning and the process of getting the business back up and running is crucial. Particularly for smaller businesses, it may not be possible to transfer production or sales to a different location, or provide the other facilities that would help to prevent a risk from impacting on the business.


Having a system that accommodates both day-to-day group communications as well as emergency messaging and can reach people via voice messages, SMS texts, emails or even social media sites can change the game: from not prepared in emergency situations, to business running as normal even in the event of factors that would normally threaten business continuity. To read the third article in this series, go to Emergency Preparedness Planning 3: Continuity Planning.
The continuity plan must include communication with stakeholders for all such emergencies, even when the risk to the business has been avoided. Recovery strategies are alternate means to restore business operations to a minimum acceptable level following a business disruption and are prioritized by the recovery time objectives (RTO) developed during the business impact analysis.Recovery strategies require resources including people, facilities, equipment, materials and information technology. Equipping converted space with furnishings, equipment, power, connectivity and other resources would be required to meet the needs of workers.Partnership or reciprocal agreements can be arranged with other businesses or organizations that can support each other in the event of a disaster. While disaster recovery will always involve some on-fly decision making and adapting to realities on the ground, both of these can be made orders of magnitude easier by having contingency plans and systems already in place, and staff who are already trained how to implement them. Disaster recovery (without proper preparedness) may mean IT scrambling to find a place to set up a replacement server, take a copy of the data and applications from the damaged server, and then restore that data and re-install mission-critical apps to give end-users the alternative access they need to continue key operations. IT employees, who would setup these temporary disaster recovery fixes, may not be available or present to implement them, so redundancies need to be built in, and plans clearly documented, so that whoever needs to step in can do so. Cloud computing, virtualization, and the continuing increase of always-connected and relatively powerful mobile devices in the hands of end-users are all key ingredients in deploying a strong and effective disaster preparedness solution. In a recent survey conducted by Symantec of IT decision-makers in small- to-mid-sized businesses, only 26 percent have a disaster preparedness plan in place. While economic woes could play a part in that lack of preparedness, the numbers convey that disaster preparedness is simply not at the forefront of many of these companies' priorities or budget allocation.
However, making the jump to a working disaster rebound strategy requires considerable planning. A healthcare facility that's located seaside, for example, will have more cause to prepare for flooding than an office somewhere on a hilltop. She has a Bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College, several technology certifications, and she was a tech editor for the CRN Test Center. If reading these questions led to more questions than answers, your business is in need of a business continuity and disaster recovery plan.
Begin your Emergency Preparedness Planning now with a free online demonstration of Regroup’s powerful, secure and easy-to-use group messaging and emergency notification system today or for more information, talk to a Regroup Communications Consultant at 775-476-8710. Regardless of the company’s perceptions, to ensure continuous data protection, businesses need to stop thinking of disaster recovery as an expense but rather a lifeline.
A disaster recovery plan is a company’s ‘insurance policy’ that ensures business continuity.
Periodic review of the agreement is needed to determine if there is a change in the ability of each party to support the other.There are many vendors that support business continuity and information technology recovery strategies. If these companies needed a greater sense of urgency to get a disaster preparedness plan going, they only have to look at a study by the Insurance Information Institute, which found that 40 percent of small businesses never reopen after a disaster. Determine which natural disasters are more likely to impede business but don't neglect incidents that can happen anywhere or can be man-made such as a fire. A required step in pre-planning a disaster preparedness strategy is meeting with all representatives of every department in an organization and finding out which key functions, information, and systems must be available in an emergency.
Business Continuity Planning Process Diagram - Text VersionWhen business is disrupted, it can cost money. Even when this is the case, the continuity plan must still address them, an earthquake proof building is of no benefit unless staff are instructed to congregate in it and other safe areas. Therefore, recovery strategies for information technology should be developed so technology can be restored in time to meet the needs of the business.
External suppliers can provide a full business environment including office space and live data centers ready to be occupied.


In this first of four articles on disaster preparedness, we tell you how to start thinking about disaster preparedness and how to gather the information you will need to create an effective, efficient plan for recovering from whatever fate throws at you. IT may be called upon to generate ad-hoc reports such as patient lists to ensure that all patients can accounted for, or perhaps to create a report specifying the types of medications or equipment that must travel with a patient during a relocation. Executive Management, Human Resources, IT and Facilities departments will often spearhead setting the agenda and schedules for these meetings. I wonder if businesses that choose not to consider disaster recovery do so because they think it will not happen to them.
To read the 4th article, go to Emergency Preparedness Planning 4: Disaster prevention and avoidance.
The worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers with sufficient knowledge of the business. The availability and cost of these options can be affected when a regional disaster results in competition for these resources.There are multiple strategies for recovery of manufacturing operations.
During a catastrophic event, Internet connectivity and land-line and mobile-communication networks can go down and remain unavailable for an extended period after the disaster.
Meetings should be regularly held until all decision makers and departments have identified the most critical businesses systems and processes that could have devastating effects on the organization if they go down. Smaller businesses, for whom the impacts of any event could be significantly greater, can often overlook the necessity for disaster recovery planning.
Once all worksheets are completed, the worksheets can be tabulated to summarize:the operational and financial impacts resulting from the loss of individual business functions and processthe point in time when loss of a function or process would result in the identified business impactsThose functions or processes with the highest potential operational and financial impacts become priorities for restoration. Emergency planning and disaster recovery is not simply about preparing for a terrorist attack or earthquake, being prepared for a power outage or unexpected staff absence or incident can equally help in ensuring business continuity.
The Business Continuity Resource Requirements worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers.
Once you know what your risks are, what their impact might be and the likelihood of them arising, you can begin planning how to avoid or mitigate them.
Completed worksheets are used to determine the resource requirements for recovery strategies.Following an incident that disrupts business operations, resources will be needed to carry out recovery strategies and to restore normal business operations. This is where the continuity plan really comes into its own, in providing detailed instructions on mitigating the effects of risks and minimizing disruption.
Meetings with individual managers should be held to clarify information and obtain missing information.After all worksheets have been completed and validated, the priorities for restoration of business processes should be identified.
This is why the continuity plan needs to be a living document that takes account of feedback from tests and genuine emergencies. Again, this should be an ongoing procedure with post-incident reviews feeding into improving the continuity plan.
From brainstorming threat scenarios to notifying customers about service changes, having a robust and reliable mass communication system is the critical to your plan’s success. To read the second article in this series, go to Emergency Preparedness Planning 2: Risk Assessment. We are seeing more and more extreme weather and more than ever businesses need a solid business disaster recovery plan. Disasters are often out of our control, but you can be prepared with a backup and disaster recovery plan. However, recent technological and information advances mean that no business, large or small, has an excuse not to be prepared.



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