10 Basic Steps for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery for the SMALL and MEDIUM sized Business or Organization – DO THIS ALL IN 2 WEEKS
Taking care of business in these days includes planning for and being well positioned in crisis and disaster events – including those that involve a loss of data, systems, website, communications and may even interrupt normal community life. The problem for most very busy operations is that either there isn’t time to do this or there isn’t a starting point or both. So, here’s an abbreviated approach for an owner or manager:
- Start with a Risk Assessment and Business Impact Analysis (BIA) – use a threshold approach which is based on time and interruption – the questions could be:
- How long can we be down without a significant loss to our business or operation? – This is in minutes, hours, days or weeks. The shorter the time, the greater the loss if the disaster or interruption continues past the point of significance.
- What is the minimum part of our business that we should maintain no matter what? – This is usually a website or telephone/voice mail answering point or a notice to customers that the service/operation is interrupted. For a data transaction business, this may involve a minimum data capture process to not lose a customer or the provision of a basic service.
- What is the value of our loss if our business or operation is stopped beyond our point of significance? – This is a calculation and may represent insurance protection, a cost/benefit for a no-interruption solution, a financial cash flow/line of credit, and/or a driver to make sure the business never exceeds that point.
- Start with the most important or highest priority function, service or need (requirement) and institute a solution to keep the minimum service or operation in place – even if it is a high-effort solution – like calling out to all customers. Train, get it place and then start on the rest.
- Next – conduct a business process analysis and review to find an single points of failure and to assess for improvements in reliability and resilience (the ability to bounce back). As able, make business improvements.
- Now – find other temporary solutions- like competitors who can also be back-ups, or interim work sites, or alternate fulfillment strategies.
- Then – talk about all of this with staff and key people. If you can, do it all together at one time – and talk it out. Make sure everyone is on the same page.
- And, make sure there is an alternative IT structure – even if you have to use a public email (like gmail and google docs)– so that you can continue to operate and collect/manage data until the primary system is back.
- And, of course, make sure staff is prepared to operate – from home, at work, at an alternate work place or at a minimum level and that they are also prepared to ramp back up when the crisis is over.
- Start saving now – keep at least 2 weeks of operating cash available to cover 1 cycle of payroll and several weeks of supplies and expenses in order to stay in business.
- What if the owner is not able to work? Have a back-up for Power of Attorney or Financial Management in the event the primary person is unavailable.
- Get back on your feet and be ready to redesign and strategize for recovery and adaptation to any changes as a result of the crisis.
Do these steps – at least 1 every day for 2 weeks! Keep everything in a book so that you can review this once every year or whenever you make changes or add something new to your operation.