Don’t get caught off-guard when there’s an emergency. When an emergency does happen, make sure you’ve got defined protocols in place to get your business back up to speed as easy and painless as possible. This is called business continuity. This is your emergency plan (also called a disaster management plan or disaster plan). So, what’s this emergency plan all about? It is a collection of your organization’s policies in the event of an emergency or disaster and provides an additional way of mitigating risk of damage to your company, its employees, and its resources. In the most basic sense, there are 3 Rs of emergency planning:
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Take precautions far in advance of an emergency or natural disaster. For example, VeriTrust maintains various emergency preparedness standards including facility and vehicle standards, fire prevention standards, security standards, information technology standards, insurance standards, and business continuity protocol standards. We examine two types of business disruptions: the risk of internal disruptions (i.e., a fire) and the risk of external disruptions (i.e., a hurricane, terrorist attack, or flood). Make sure you identify all of your critical systems operations and document them.
Which operations are absolutely critical in order for your business to stay afloat during a disaster? You’ll want to be sure to check out some of our other tips on how to protect your records against a hurricane. In addition, you’ll need to have lists of contacts, emergency procedures, building layouts with escape routes, lists of equipment and materials, and guidelines for procedures post-disaster. Make these lists available to all staff members, and make sure it’s accessible to offsite employees as well.
Your company should have specific protocols in place in order to properly respond to an emergency. Some of these include setting up alternate locations for your critical staff, equipment, and resources. Research and establish the appropriate travel routes for vehicles and the operations required for moving client assets if necessary. Ensuring that back-up communication systems are in place can make or break business continuity during and after an emergency.
“Why do we need a communications plan? We’ll just use our cell phones!” If your phone is dead, you’re stranded far from the office, and you have hundreds of clients’ contact information stored in a database at your office, then you won’t be able to easily communicate critical information to them. There are also internal communication systems you have to consider. If you have unique procedures that need to be communicated during an emergency, you’re going to want to have a back-up communications plan in place.
Backing up your company’s data and your customers’ data is critical to business continuity. This separates your business from the rest of the pack, and will ultimately determine how resilient your business is in the face of an emergency.
This is why having an off-site storage facility on your side is critical, and also why we, at VeriTrust, ensure that our solutions are fully utilized at your business. Schedule frequent back-ups of your data internally, and keep another copy at an off-site storage facility. No matter how much preparation you do or how many back-ups you create, there will always be an inherit risk of loss or damage in information management. This is why you should always mitigate this risk with adequate insurance policies.
So, what’s your emergency plan? Don’t forget, the 3 Rs of emergency planning are readiness, response, and recovery. I should point out that these are general concepts when it comes to emergency plans. However, if you need a more detailed and sophisticated plan, you’ll benefit from talking to an information management professionals like the ones at VeriTrust. When you talk to your off-site information management professional, ensure that you receive a copy of their Business Continuity Plan or Emergency Response plan. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need help with your information management and business continuity plan.