No one wants to think about the worst happening and that’s true in your professional as well as your personal life. But when it does, you may not have the option to change the circumstances but you can take control over how you react to them.
In this article we’re taking a look at making your business catastrophe-proof by creating a plan that can be triggered when the worst does eventually happen, whether that’s a natural disaster or something man made.
We’re looking at seven things that need to be part of your business continuity plan.
1 Identify Weaknesses
Before you bring your document to life, take a moment or two to identify any areas of your business that might be weaker than others. This might be the security of your stored documents, access to your shared files or something as basic as an underperforming server or wifi connection.
If you can bolster those weak areas then make some arrangements to get that done. Preparing your business for the worst is just as much about preparation as it is about having clever plans in place.
2 Allocate Responsibility
As much as you might want to, you simply can’t be responsible for every last detail in your contingency plan. To make it truly effective you must allocate tasks and that will mean identifying individuals or job titles that make sense in taking on this extra responsibility.
It makes sense to allocate an IT-person to identify workable internet networks should you lose yours suddenly. It makes sense to have someone in your HR department to take on the role of looking after your staff welfare in the event of a natural disaster and it makes sense that you oversee all these areas of work and take responsibility in making sure your business can continue.
3 Put Thought into Your Tech
If you’re a company that uses a networked system and relies on a consistent broadband and electricity supply then this is going to be a major part of your considerations. Should there be a natural disaster, such as a storm, that interrupts your supply of either of these elements, how will you go on?
Perhaps you’d consider having a Silent Generator in storage, ready to bring out if needed. While having one is certainly a good idea, make sure that you have at least one member of staff who is fully up to speed on how it works and how to get it up and running.
If your network itself is under attack from a virus or your hardware is somehow damaged, making it unusable then you’ll need to think about you keep your people in touch with one another, how they can access their documents and how they can keep working even if they can’t physically be in the office.
We suggest swapping over your PC-based file storage to Cloud storage allowing your team access to shared files and so on even when they don’t have their own PC to hand. Just make sure that any passwords are stored somewhere safe. Remind staff that they should only use wifi networks that are secure and not open to avoid any threat of virus.
It might also be worthwhile identifying a shared workspace of coworking environment where your teams might be able to relocate to for a few days while you repair your own space.
4 Put Your People First
In the event of a natural disaster, such as a flood or earthquake your priority should be towards getting everyone safe. Make sure that everyone knows the drill should there be a fire or flood – where to go and where to meet. Again you’ll want to allocate emergency marshalls to make sure that everyone is out of your building safe and sound.
You will need to make sure that you have an adequate number of staff who are trained in first aid as well.
If you are unable to resume working in your building then make sure your HR team member in charge of staff welfare has what they need to check in with individuals and chase up anyone who was unwell or injured.
Keep staff up to date on the issues you’re facing with daily emails or by creating a Whatsapp group, though be sure to make alternatives for anyone who doesn’t have access to either of these options for whatever reason.
5 Keep Documents Safe
In the event of something like a fire, just knowing everyone is safe and sound and you haven’t lost too much stock will be your initial thoughts but after the dust has settled and you need to make a claim on your insurance do you know where to put your hands on those vital documents?
While you may have a paper copy in a filing cabinet somewhere it’s well worth a few minutes scanning any important documents that you’re likely to need at some point in the future. Rather than save it on your local network or PC, save these documents to Cloud-based storage that you’ll be able to access from anywhere in the world right at the moment you need it most.
6 Test Your Plans
This might seem like overkill but having plans in place is one thing and knowing they work, quite another. You remember running fire drills at school and you must absolutely do the same in your workplace, approximately every six months.
The same is true of your other contingency plans. Brief staff on the supposed incident and have them run through the plan. This is particularly important if you live in an area of the world that is prone to certain natural disasters such as earthquakes or hurricanes that arrive regularly certain times of the year.
Don’t worry if your plan doesn’t quite pan out as expected, this is the perfect opportunity to make any adjustments that you might need to make it work better next time. Remember too that your continuity plan is a living document and can be updated and changed whenever it needs to. Just make sure that your key staff are given the most up to date documents and any changes are flagged up.
7 Don’t Delay!
You may have read this and decided that, yes, your business really should have some kind of continuity plan in place and that you’ll almost certainly get down to it over the next few months.
As you know in real life, disasters happen when you’re least expecting them. Those plans you make that are so easily put off don’t matter right up until that precise moment you need them most. Take charge or appoint a team to get the plan done sooner rather than later.
No one wants to think about the worst case scenario but when you run a business that’s exactly what you’ll need to do as part of your role as the boss. Look at what you can do now to shore up any weaker areas, divide up your business into the parts that need special attention paid to them such as your technology and your staff welfare.
Consider making a wholesale move over to Cloud-based computing to help you get back up and running as soon as possible and so you’ll know exactly where those important documents are as and when you need them.
Then it’s time to run through those scenarios, make adjustments and know that you’ve put in place plans that are going to keep your business up and running should the worst happen.