We have almost made it through this year’s hurricane season, but unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that businesses will suddenly be safe again. Many businesses that are impacted by these kinds of disasters are unprepared, and so when push comes to shove, some ultimately close their doors after trying (and failing) to bounce back. We’re going to tell you how to help avoid this outcome for your business the next time there’s a disaster.
Don’t Go in Blind
First, as is the case with any kind of disaster, you need to have a business continuity plan prepared that addresses what you need to do in response. While weather is an important part of that, many businesses that don’t have to deal with things like hurricanes forget that there are many other factors that can come into play. A full 30 percent of all downtime is caused by any of numerous environmental factors - including flooding, yes, but also extreme temperature, humidity, and others.
You need to be sure that you know what your risk factors are, and that you have the systems in place to see them coming. While you may not want to make the investment into a monitoring system, its cost is miniscule compared to what an unforeseen disaster can incur. Downtime costs alone have jumped up by 38 percent in the last eight years, making any investment to avoid the ill effects of a disaster well worth it. Hurricanes have become larger and, in some areas, even the run-of-the-mill rainstorm can drop over 70 percent more water than they have in the past. As a result, you need to know what makes your business vulnerable.
Plan for The Worst…
Once you know the risks, you need to identify what would constitute your business’ worst-case scenario and prepare yourself to deal with that. Naturally, an off-site data backup is going to be a key part of this. Make sure that your business’ data is backed up in multiple locations, away from your actual workspace. This keeps your data that much safer, as it reduces the likelihood of a single disaster wiping out both your business’ stored data and the backup you’ve kept.
You will also need to ensure that your business has a communications plan to ensure that you can confirm the safety of your employees throughout the hurricane, as well as to keep your clients informed of your status. You may also want to consider, depending on your risk factor, keeping a supply of provisions in the office in case you and your team find yourselves stuck there by conditions outside.
It isn’t uncommon that a disaster should make the complete shutdown of a business the best available option. Make sure your plan addresses both how to initiate such a shutdown, and how to start your business back up once the threat has passed.
...And Negate It
Once your plan is prepared, you should do all that you can to make it so that a disaster will only have limited influence on your business operations. For instance, enabling your employees to work remotely will allow them to resume productivity once they and their families have reached a safe place. You should also make sure your location has the necessary equipment to help mitigate the damage that a hurricane, tropical storm, or whatever disaster pertains to your location, can cause. An example would be maintaining water pumps to help minimize flooding.
Finally, you need to make sure that you and your staff not only know your plan but are prepared to enact it. Just like schools run fire drills, you should have your staff practice what they need to do in the midst of a hurricane or some other disaster.
Emerald City Solutions can help. Our experience with backup and disaster recovery solutions allows us to handle that aspect of your business continuity planning, leaving you free to focus on the rest. Call us at (206) 340-1616 to find out more.