Disasters are a fact of business, and they will always be threats to business continuity as long as an enterprise stands. Business leaders will always have to deal with unplanned outages, technological malfunctions, and cyberattacks from time to time. On top of those known disruptions, an unprecedented threat like the COVID-19 pandemic may come along.
And while the outbreak caught establishments off guard, many were able to mitigate its effects by employing agile strategies and leveraging cloud solutions. This goes to show that any disaster can be contained with foresight, adaptable strategies, aggressive solutions, and proper implementation.
Planning in three stages is paramount
Small- and medium-sized enterprises' (SMEs) disaster preparedness plans should have three phases: planning and prevention (resolve phase), disaster response (respond phase), and return to normal (rebuild phase).
Resolve phase – In this phase, all possible threats to business are listed down alongside detailed plans on how to stop them from happening or running amuck.
Respond phase – In this stage, the threat to business has already manifested. This is the actual implementation of the disaster response blueprint, where business leaders must follow protocol but adopt a pragmatic approach and modify responses as they see fit.
Rebuild phase – This happens after the threat is contained. Companies tie up loose ends and improve their plan based on its successes and failures. Reassessing a disaster preparedness plan enables companies to handle similar threats more efficiently in the future.
Considerations when preparing for a disaster
Whether it’s arming your SME against a natural disaster, a cyberattack, or a health crisis-related threat, include these considerations in your disaster preparedness plan:
Scale – Plan solutions for the big things and for the little things. It's the little things like forgotten passwords, app crashes, or device malfunction that can destroy productivity and lower customer satisfaction.
Response times – It’s important to have a plan for when things get worse, but acting strategically as soon as disaster hits can be key to saving your business. Plot the acceptable downtime for critical processes, and strive to get systems back up and running within those limits.
Lines of communication – Outline how you can reach or be reached by employees, vendors, suppliers, local officials, and other concerned parties during a disaster. Prepare emergency contact information, assign key people to be responsible for communication, and make sure you have the proper equipment to maintain communication lines with the outside world.
You must also conduct research on your legal obligations to report disruptions to businesses to authorities. For instance, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) mandates businesses to report certain cases of data breaches and other incidents.
Backups – Key to keeping business afloat is identifying your core business functions, which systems they are interdependent with, and what data or programmes are necessary to keep them running. Protect those most by keeping them securely and backing them up regularly. A managed IT services provider like Office Tek can provide you with data recovery and backup solutions, so you don’t ever have to worry about losing critical data to risks and unpredictability.
Technology and equipment – Once you determine possible threats, purchase equipment that will enable your workforce to keep safe from those hazards. This may include protection from natural disasters, like smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, or first-aid kits. This may also mean purchasing laptops and subscribing to better internet service that will allow employees to work from home if going to the office is not an option. You must also plan how employees can safely and easily access these tools.
Make quick decisions by utilising current and accurate knowledge, and deploy solutions at once. At the same time, plan for long-term disaster mitigation. The rule of thumb is to lay out plans for the next three months, and make changes or adjustments as you go along.
Don’t wait for disaster to strike before you beef up your preparedness strategy. When it comes to IT-related threats, Office Tek ensures that your systems are proactively protected 24/7, backups are secured, and operations can continue as usual. We also do test runs to guarantee that your plan actually works when disaster comes knocking at your door. Are you interested in surviving any disaster? Partner with us, and get a FREE consultation today.