Big disasters can happen in Minneapolis and St. Paul too… do you have a Business Continuity Plan if a disaster strikes you?

A Business Continuity plan does not need to be a 200 page dissertation about recreating your business from the ground up after a disaster event. In fact, if your plan is too long, or too complicated, or too difficult it will probably not be created – and if it does get done, it will likely never be updated and will quickly become useless.

You need a plan that makes sense for the complexity of your business. If your business uses $2 million equipment each day to service your clients, then your plan better include replacing this equipment if disaster strikes. If your business deals with hundreds of clients each day with thousands of orders shipping and being invoiced … then your BCP better plan for getting this pipeline back in working order ASAP! Imagine this …

Disaster strikes …

You received a call last night at 3:17am. It is the fire department and they are putting out a blaze at your business – everything is toast. You need to gather your staff in the basement of your house and start your recovery. Who will call your employees? Who will call your clients? Who will call the phone company to have your calls transferred to a live number? Who will call the IT Support Company to get them started with building a temporary network for the business to use, hopefully within a day or two?

Who will call the insurance company to get a check for all of this, and on and on and on?

This is crunch time and not a time to be wading through pages of vision and mission statements and imagining what will the public’s reaction be to your business in ashes. You need specific and defined action to get your business back on its feet as soon as possible! Below is an example that might form a starting point for your Business Continuity Plan.

Simple Disaster Recovery Plan for On Premise Networks

Before Disaster:

  • Keep important phone numbers stored in cell phones.
  • Determine a specified meeting place in the event that the office is destroyed or inaccessible.
  • Determine which employees are responsible for making critical phone calls during a disaster.
  • Determine where a temporary office location would be.
  • Configure Email at employee’s homes so that it is functional (or at least able to view old messages) if the network is down.
  • Setup a home computer with the company accounting software / vertical software (if possible).
  • Implement a thorough off-site backup system, preferably one with Virtual Server capabilities.
  • Store all important software and licenses off-site. Implement a procedure to continually update the off-site library.
  • Thoroughly document all network settings, and keep up-to-date and off-site.
  • If the web site is hosted locally, determine where it can be temporarily hosted elsewhere.
  • Quarterly, update a USB Flash drive for each department head to keep off-site, which contains the following:
    • A current contact list (home phone number, cell phone number, and family contact) for all employees and management.
    • An updated contact list of customers.
    • An updated contact list of vendors.
  • Annually:
    • Take an inventory of hardware that might need replacing in a disaster.
    • An updated contact list of customers.
    • Hold a meeting where you discuss the BCP with your employees.

After Disaster:

  • Call your insurance company.
  • Call Imagine IT. We will get going on the IT reconstruction, by:
    • Pointing web and Email records to a temporary location.
    • Ordering new servers, switches, Internet, Racks, workstations, etc…
    • Restoring company data to the pre-determined home computer.
    • Setup remote access if necessary.
  • Call your phone line provider. Forward main line to someone’s cell phone.
  • Call your phone system vendor. Order a new phone system or move to a Hosted PBX service.
  • Call your broadband ISP.
  • Call vendors with temporary billing and shipping addresses, if necessary.
  • Email all customers (using personal Email address if necessary) about the situation; Customers would have to call cell phones; give out a temporary address to send payments if necessary.
  • If fire:
    • Arrange to hold mail at the Post Office until the address can be changed, possibly to a UPS store.
    • Look for a new office space.
    • Order office furniture and supplies if necessary.
  • If BDR appliance, run the company servers off the device until the new network infrastructure is setup.
    • Perform BDR appliance Bare Metal Restore to new servers once they arrive.

What won’t work for a few days or more?

  • Exchange Email system.
  • SmartPhone sync.
  • Accounting applications.
  • Databases.
  • Phone system.

What if our company had our servers and phones hosted in redundant facilities outside of our office?

  • Fire and theft would not be an issue for the servers and data.
  • Data would still be accessible from any computer.
  • Backups and restore would not be an issue.
  • The phone system would still be available. Customers and vendors would still be able to access the automated attendant. Employees could access the system, and communicate with customers and vendors with their mobile phones.

Of course, the information above needs to be tailored to your needs, but it should form a good base for you to work with. Remember, the key people on your staff need to clearly understand their roles, and the plan should be revisited frequently enough to keep it current with your business.