Are you prepared for the unexpected?
The risks of an airplane malfunction are minimal, statistically. But airlines go to great lengths to convince consumers that necessary precautions have been taken to prevent mechanical failures before any passenger sets foot inside the fuselage. We expect that kind of protection. In fact, we expect that the airlines not only check landing gear before takeoff, but that they also provide a redundancy system that will deploy the landing gear in case the primary system fails. It’s interesting that although we expect that kind of preparedness from businesses serving us, so few of us have taken steps to protect our own business investments.
Consider your business’s efforts to "keep flying" in the event of a disaster or other malfunction:
The number of known risks has escalated at a sobering pace in the past few years. Ten years ago we didn’t worry much about computer viruses, terrorist attacks, or even fire and flood. It is a different world today, and thankfully, most employers are taking proactive steps to assure that their business investment wouldn’t be destroyed by a freak tornado, a chemical spill, or an incident of workplace violence.
It would be almost impossible to anticipate and prepare for every conceivable disaster. If disaster management seems overwhelming, try managing your emergency preparedness with a three-tiered approach.
Tier 1 - Which business applications are truly critical and require recovery within 24 hours to keep your business afloat. You’ll find that many of these solutions are reasonably inexpensive ones: having a reliable system for data storage and recovery, or having backup power systems on hand to run computers and machinery, for example.
Tier 2 - Which applications would need to be restored within 48-72 hours? Will it be more important for the IT department to restore e-mail or to get your payroll software up and running? Can you prioritize your essential business functions?
Tier 3 - Which less-critical applications will need to be restored within a week?
Keep in mind that you’ll also need to anticipate "upstream" and "downstream" losses. If you depend on a paper supplier in order to print and deliver the brochures your company produces, do you have a plan B in case of a fire at the paper plant? Do you have someone else to sell pies to if your bakery depends on customers that are stranded at home because of flooding?
Here are some elements to be included in your company disaster plan:
Dozens of other ideas for your disaster plans are included in a "toolkit" provided by the Institute for Business and Home Safety. Open For Business (PDF)