“How a small business can manage a natural disaster with effective planning”
It is not about cash flow but about “surviving” and keeping in contact with your employees, customers, and vendors. During a crisis period, either due to weather or natural disaster, small companies can fail if they do not have proper procedures and polices in place to effectively deal with their IT resources. During such crisis periods it is important to be able to reach out to your employees and advise them on the status of the business and implement a contingency plan so they can continue to work and support your customers.
Have a solid “disaster plan” that all employees are advised of in advance. Working from home or a remote location may be required.
- Cloud technologies available today makes this a viable option to keep everyone online
- Cloud computing is very reliable with your data stored in an off-site location
- Take daily backups of your data to secure locations either on a CD or Tape
- Make sure each employee has access to the Internet from home
- Keep copies of all applications ready for re-deployment/installation
- Establish plan with employees to connect with each other via phone or online chat at all times
- Prepare for power outages with UPS backup systems with minimum 12 hour fail-over
Build “redundancy” into your IT systems – multiple backups and multiple options for employees to “connect” with each other. Staying in contact with other employees, clients and vendors is paramount to continuing ongoing operations during a crisis situation.
- Establish phone system that is redundant so clients and employees can communicate
- Have any and all data backup systems in place in separate locations for immediate use
- Establish a “hot line” phone system that alerts all clients to the immediate status of your operations
Inform your clients and vendors to be aware of the crisis and your “emergency management” situation. Do not be afraid to inform them of the situation i.e. Hurricane Sandy, Storm Nemo, Earthquake or other events that may impact your business. Clients and vendors may be unaware of your physical location and the impact such events may be cause your business. They will understand and work with you.
- Have an email list available for all clients and vendors
- Establish a bulk email account with firms such as www.constantcontact.com
- Have a pre-prepared “canned” message (modify if needed for each situation)
In conclusion, providing leadership to your team and keeping in touch with all employees and implement the “disaster plan” (see Step #1) in an effective and organized manner to maintain business continuity. Be realistic, if it will take days or even weeks to re-establish your business be honest with each and every employee, vendor and client.