A Quick Reference for Business Leaders
Natural Disaster Survival Guide for Business, Part 6, is our sixth and final post in this series designed to prepare your business to survive any number of disasters that could shut your business down. These posts are not intended to be a complete preparation guide on disaster preparedness. Rather they are meant to stimulate your thinking, as a business leader.
Disasters come in different ways. We’ve chosen six to chat about, leaving this post for last. We’ve already covered the first five types of disasters. In this sixth post, we’ll chat about Human error aka "hurricane humanity.”
DISASTER SURVIVAL GUIDE
Building fire or flooding
Hurricane or coastal storm
Tornado or extreme storm
Earthquake, landslide or avalanche
Human error aka “Hurricane Humanity”
Before we get started on Hurricane Humanity, let’s introduce some basics and then we’ll move on and chat about Hurricane Humanity.
Every business has to prepare for the worst. Those that don’t may never fully recover from a disaster. But not all disasters are created equal. Moreover, not all businesses are at risk for every kind of disaster. That’s why our partner, Datto, put together this quick Disaster Survival Guide to help you ensure that your business can keep operating even if it’s struck by one of the natural disasters described. Of course, this post is no substitute for rigorous business continuity (BC) planning with a BC consultant. But it will get you started in the right direction—and help ensure that you have the basics of a good disaster recovery in place even before you invest in a more formal BC plan. Note: This post addresses continuity of business operations only. It does not address the physical safety of employees during a disaster—which should always be the first priority. For matters of employee safety, please consult appropriate guidance from building codes, fire safety engineers, etc.
• Answering phones
• Processing orders
• Issuing invoices
• Signing checks
• Filing reports required by regulatory mandates
Disaster #6 Human error aka “hurricane humanity”
People make mistakes: They pull the wrong plug, click on the wrong link, open the wrong email attachment, or completely botch a major systems upgrade. They trip, spill and synchronize unapproved third-party applications to the network. They visit unsafe websites. They accidentally or maliciously delete business critical files. After all, it’s only natural, we’re humans.
Potential impact: Human error can cause your business to lose a single important file, account, server, or completely shut down your critical systems.
Risk factors: The Uptime Institute estimates that 70% of data center problems are caused by human error. Unless your business is entirely staffed by robots with fully redundant fail-safe error controls, you are at risk.
Warning times: No one will ever walk into your office and announce that today is the day they will make the biggest mistake of their lives, so don’t expect any advance notice of human error (or any notice at all).
Technology continuity: Have point-in-time backup that will let you quickly restore your data, application, and systems to the state they were in the moment before whatever happened, happened.
SEVEN ADDITIONAL KEY PRINCIPLES
OF BUSINESS CONTINUITY
1. Get employees involved. BC plans only work if everyone understands them. Employees are also a great source of ideas and insights about how your business might be affected by a disaster. So business must communicate BC plans to employees regularly — and actively solicit their input.
2. Keep customers in the loop. Customers are the lifeblood of every business. They should be treated as such even during a disaster. Alerts on the company website, email broadcasts, social media and text messages to key contacts’ mobile phones are all good ways for a business to express concern about the impact of a disaster on its customers. That level of service can even help transform a disaster into an opportunity for greater long-term customer loyalty.
3. Collaborate with suppliers. Businesses increasingly work in tightly interdependent networks of suppliers and partners. By working collaboratively with these third parties, businesses can make themselves even more resilient and well protected against disasters large and small.
4. Periodically test and update BC plans. It’s not enough to formulate a plan once and put it on paper. Assumptions about a plan should be validated with real-life testing. Plans also have to be updated continuously to ensure that they accommodate changes in the business’s products, services, relationships, size, geographic reach, etc.
5. Factor in compliance. Businesses are subject to a variety of regulatory mandates that may require certain disaster preparedness measures. OSHA may be particularly relevant in regards to workplace safety.
6. Examine insurance options carefully. Coverages vary greatly, and policy language can be confusing. Businesses have to exercise careful legal and financial diligence to ensure that their policies cover all aspects of disaster recovery and revenue loss, not just the repair of initial damage. In some cases, it may make sense to obtain Contingent Business Interruption Insurance. This type of policy provides additional coverage for the harm a disaster can do to a business indirectly, for example, if a supplier in a different climate fails to deliver promised goods because of a local blizzard.
7. Data backup is not enough. Many businesses think they’re safe just because they’ve backed up their critical files. The problem is that those files depend on applications and systems to be of any use to the business. That’s why, in the event of a disaster, it’s essential to be able to run applications on-demand from virtual machines backed up in the cloud.
Thank you for joining us in this series on NATURAL DISASTER SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR BUSINESSES. If you would like more information on Data Backup and Disaster Recovery, download your Free Business Advisory Guide Here.
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Dedicated to your success,
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