Disaster Preparedness Checklist

Forty percent (40%) of businesses that suffer a disaster never reopen, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Businesses and organizations with a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) fare better.  FEMA recommends that every business create, carry out, and exercise a BCP.  Here’s a checklist to help you get started:

Disaster Preparedness Business Technology Checklist

Develop a Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

  1. Determine activities critical to business survival. Use questionnaires, surveys, or meetings to elicit advice from your key employees.  Document this information.
  2. What activities have to occur every day, every two or three days, every week, or every month to keep your business operating.

Identify recovery strategies

  1. Determine the facilities, hardware, supplies, and personnel required to support the critical activities identified in the BIA.
  2. Identify likely causes of business disruptions in your area. What natural disasters are most likely?  Calamities that occurred in the past are likely to strike again.  Tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes.  What impact would they have on your business?

Create the Business Continuity Plan

  1. Use the information gathered in the above two steps to develop specific actions to support critical functions.
  2. Identify key personnel responsible for each function.  Identify backup personnel who can assume duties if the lead person is unavailable.
  3. Identify potential relocation sites.
  4. Determine a phone forwarding processes.  Options may include telecom provider forwarding to employee home or cellular phones, IP phone forwarding to mobile phones, etc..
  5. Specify your data backup procedures.  Backups allow for recovery of lost data, not necessarily continued operations.
  6. Consider potential for migration to a hot-site with hardware to host your IT operation temporarily.  This would allow business to resume or continue operations.
  7. Document BCP in a written plan

Train and Test the BCP

  1. Provide BCP to key personal.
  2. Train staff on the BCP.
  3. Test hardware solutions. Roll phones over to mobile devices, forward to home phones, etc..  Exercise generators, test Universal Power Supplies (UPS).
  4. Document results. Pay special attention to failures and change the BCP as needed.
  5. Test hardware solutions annually or more often if possible.  A great time to do this is during your state’s severe weather awareness week, observed by most states every year, typically in the spring.

Additional Considerations

Power failures occur with many natural and man-caused disasters, however most power loss occurs unrelated to a disaster.  A recent electrical system reliability study conducted by Berkeley Laboratory for the US Department of Energy shows the average electrical customer in the US suffers 1.2 outages and 125 minutes of power loss per year.  While standby generators can give power over extended outages of days or weeks, a UPS can keep your computers and phones running for an hour or more.

UPS manufacturers can assist you in determining your emergency power needs.  Even if you have a backup generator, a UPS can keep your systems operating through the moments it takes a generator to start, stabilize, and produce usable power to your equipment.  Remember to test your UPS on a quarterly basis.

In addition to business continuity resources maintained by FEMA’s Ready.gov, the Council of Foundations has an excellent example of a BCP you may want to check as you begin to work on yours.

Develop a plan to keep your business or organization functioning during and after a disaster:  you owe it to your customers, your clients, your employees, your communities, and to yourself.

Please contact us for help as you develop your plan.

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