August 2017 Innovate

5 Simple Tips to Keep Your Business Running During Hurricane Season


Written By: Michael Remer, President of Computercare, LLC

It’s hurricane season once again in Florida, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts 11 to 17 tropical storms in our neighborhood—and up to four unusually active hurricanes, meaning Category 3 and higher. So with that, there’s no better time than now to test your disaster recovery (DR) plan – that is the plan your business has that is focused on ensuring your data and IT can be quickly recovered in the event of a disaster. You have one, right? If you haven’t thought through this part of your business, now is the time.

But even if you have, take a look at these five things you can do to make sure your business survives a disaster.

1) Inform your staff
Your people should be aware of the existence of a DR plan as well as what their responsibilities will be during a disaster. Staff with direct responsibilities included in your plan need to be able to get to the necessary documentation in order to manage their role effectively. A paper copy of your DR plan, as a backup to an electronic version, may not be a bad idea. Utilize your companies HR department and internal processes for disseminating information about your DR plan. Create a DR team, and schedule trainings and meetings with them. Team members should be authorized to move other employees to your DR backup location before bad weather hits. Don’t forget to include vendors, partners and outside providers in your plan.

2) Perform a test
What good is a plan if you never test it? Most companies that have a plan ignore this step or they don’t test their plan as often as they should. Not only will your DR plan change with regularity, but it’s also likely that the people, places, steps and measures will change too. Testing regularly will ensure your plan is solid and by performing a drill, you’ll be able to make sure everyone involved knows their roles and that all critical systems are covered.

3) Check your backup site
Your business’ data should be backed up to an offsite location. This provides for recovery of your systems in the event of a disaster, but in addition to that location your business should also have a backup work site that you can continue to conduct business from. This location is where you would send your workforce to in the event you can’t conduct business from your main location. Examples would be a branch office in another city or state, meeting areas in conference centers or hotels, or even utilizing space from a vendor, partner or customer. Many business owners would welcome a reciprocal agreement for a backup worksite. Make sure this site has the redundancy you need, including power and internet. Have a secondary backup site in case whatever disaster strikes impacts the primary area as well.

4) Update your plan
Your plan should contain not just what to do, but:
A.
How to do it
B.
Who will do it
C.
Where it will be done
D.
And when it will be enacted

Contact information, service level agreements, and system inventories should appear in an appendix. This information needs to be kept up to date with the correct phone numbers and contact names. Review your entire plan to add any other pertinent information. Missing details may mean the difference between getting your business up and running, and remaining in the dark.

5) Check for amenities at your backup site
If your backup site is in another city you’ll want to make sure there will be places for your employees to stay. In the event of a hurricane there is a good chance that hotels will be overbooked as evacuees are looking for places to stay, in that case your people may have to remain onsite. Making sure there is food, water, a place to shower and a place to sleep are going to be essential, especially for an extended period of time.

Talk to your managed services provider for input and guidance for your own disaster recovery plan. Whatever you do, make sure you review your plan regularly, and perform your own disaster recovery drill frequently.

 

MICHAEL REMER is founder and president of ComputerCare LLC, an IT services company providing a full spectrum of IT solutions and services to small and medium businesses.

Leave a Comment