After Disaster Has Struck

The scenarios are unfortunately all too real.

  • Your office building has been completely destroyed by fire.
  • You can’t get within 20 miles of your business due to a radiation leak at a nuclear plant.
  • An earthquake has rendered your facility into chunks of concrete.
  • A fire in a conference room and the resulting water and smoke damage has rendered the office uninhabitable for a month but it’s a critical month when most of your annual revenue comes in.

The good news is you have a disaster recovery plan in place.

You have role swapped your data and have a temporary set up to re-establish business operations with some disruption.

Now what?

Now the IT side of the DR plan must integrate with the operations side of the DR plan.  How temporary is the space you’ll be in?  If there’s only minimal damage to the headquarters, you can operate until the mess is cleaned up and data and business operations at the old location are restored.

Is the building in tact?

If your building is completely destroyed, finding a suitable new location can take weeks or months.  Compromises will need to be made in order to maintain productivity.  But everyone at all levels of management and staff, customers, suppliers and service providers will need to be informed about the business situation and new lines of communications will need to be established for short-term as well as long-term DR.

Do you need an offsite location?

Too often, an organization’s DR plan focuses on the restoration of technical issues, data and application processing that the business needs to properly function – no more and no less. The availability of meeting and work space is something many organizations deal with on the fly.

IT managers need to include senior management in the second part of restoring business operations.  Establishing a short- or long-term offsite location, communicating to everyone associated with the business how operations now work, and a long- -term strategy to maintain business operations to move from business continuity to business-as-usual.

Plan for the minimal manpower needed for temporary to permanent recovery, office equipment required including furniture, documentation needed, and the location where management of the recovery will take place.  A website can be a great way to communicate to multiple publics with some content privatized to ensure it’s seen by those who need to know the information at hand.

Do you have a communications plan?

Businesses hit by a disaster and in recovery need contact lists of employees, vendor lists, and service provider lists of those who can get critical equipment and supply chains in place in times of need.  Communicating with customers about what has happened, what’s changed and what hasn’t will help maintain customer loyalty and confidence during the recovery period.

Is your IT DR plan comprehensive enough?

IT DR timelines need to mirror business unit DR plans to ensure that needed technical resources and support will be readily available.

Obviously, unprepared businesses face a greater risk in the event of a disaster than those that are ready for one.  Expanding IT DR planning to include the entire business enterprise can minimize disruption in the supply chain by handling basic business functions like client order entry, finalizing transactions and maintaining shipment records.

Even if the business operates with some short-term limitations, having an enterprise-wide business continuity plan allows the business to continue its operations while protecting interests of customers, suppliers, employees and investors.

Have you been through a disaster?  Share your comments here.

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