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.
This entry was posted in Data Archiving, Data Security and tagged Disaster data management, Disaster data security .
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.
In the previous articles in this series, we discussed risk assessment, the importance of establishing what risks and threats your business faces, how some of them can be prevented or avoided and how you should formulate and use an emergency plan.
Surviving an emergency is only the first stage though, if your business is to continue in the long-term, you need to ensure that disaster recovery and business continuity are a high priority, from the moment that you become aware of a disaster, whether imminent or already taking place. Post-incident disaster recovery is an essential element in mitigating the effects of specific incidents, ensuring that operations are resumed as quickly as possible and before any secondary damage (to client lists or reputation) is incurred.
Again, this should be an ongoing procedure, detailed in your emergency plan and with post-test and post-incident reviews feeding into improving the plan. The emergency plan should make clear what sort of down-time is acceptable before temporary measures are introduced, and how these are escalated. Particularly if there is going to be any lengthy disruption to your business, ensure that you keep your customers, suppliers, staff and contractors informed.
To read the first article in this series, go to Emergency Preparedness Planning: Identifying the Key Stages of your Disaster Recovery Plan. The information found in the General Disaster Preparedness section of this site is recommended as the first source of information for any business looking to better prepare for disaster. However, you may be interested in the information on a specific threat and its unique characteristics, consequences and preparedness guidelines.
Recent history has shown us the price that businesses pay when they are unprepared for disasters.
No matter what the threat may be, there are general principles that apply to preventing, preparing for, and recovering from every kind of natural disaster.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) presents this primer for Architects (in PDF) on incorporating security features into building design. The National Fire Protection Association offers a fact sheet (in PDF) on developing emergency plans and conducting evacuation drills.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s step-by-step approach to emergency planning, response and recovery for companies of all sizes.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration provides an eTool and guidelines for developing an emergency action plan. The General Services Administration’s (GSA) Office of the Chief Architect provides a site containing facility standards for public buildings.

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LLBL) provides a website offering advice for emergency personnel and building operators for dealing with biological or chemical releases in a building. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has created a web site with links to multiple sources of information useful for businesses in development of emergency plans. The National Institute for Chemical Studies offers a guide (in PDF) for preparing a shelter-in-place plan for the workplace. The American Chemistry Council, in conjunction with the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association and the Chlorine Institute prepared this guide for implementing a quality site security management system. 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. For example, disruption of manufacturing, lectures or the sales team of up to 24 hours may be acceptable, but for any longer, you will need to consider relocating the activity. In an emergency, people will pull together, and a customer who understands the nature of the disaster that you suffered and is being kept informed on the supply situation is more likely to remain a customer than one who has no idea what is happening or when supply might resume. You not only have to marshal your staff and other resources, but you need to keep everyone informed if you are to retain their trust and business. To read the 2nd article in this series, go to Emergency Preparedness Planning 2: Risk Assessment.
The content provided was not prepared by the Pittsburgh Regional Business Coalition for Homeland Security (PRBCHS), and is not necessarily endorsed by PRBCHS.
Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a variety of loan programs to assist businesses in mitigation as well as disaster recovery efforts.
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. To read the 3rd article in this series, go to Emergency Preparedness Planning 3: Continuity Planning. It is also important that government agencies, nonprofits and business work together to be well-prepared for disasters.
Individuals and businesses should make disaster plans, build disaster kits, and get involved in disaster preparations, because vital services may not be restored for at least 72 hours in a major disaster.
Learn more about the SBA Mitigation Loan Program or visit the SBA’s Disaster Recovery website.

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.
To read the 4th article, go to Emergency Preparedness Planning 4: Disaster prevention and avoidance. I wonder if businesses that choose not to consider disaster recovery do so because they think it will not happen to them.
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.
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.

Relief society emergency preparedness specialist
Home safety plans
Emergency earthquake plan
Emergency food storage


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