Countdown to Hurricane Season 2019: 4 Steps for Business Continuity
Prepare Your Business Technology for Hurricane Season
Hurricane season starts June 1. Companies that are caught unprepared are at risk for experiencing power outages, equipment damage, and Internet and server problems if a major storm hits. So, it’s critical to prepare your business technology for hurricane season.
Below are four steps to take to maintain business continuity during a disaster and when to act – starting now.
The first step to prepare your business technology for hurricane season is hosting a strategy meeting. Ideally, leadership should conduct this meeting three months in advance. This gives the business time to address disaster recovery issues and set up necessary components to achieve continuity during a disaster.
Include the internal IT team and/or managed service provider, CEO, CFO and office managers in this meeting. Discuss critical issues and share best practices about how to keep the business running, should disaster hit. Questions to consider include:
- What needs to be set up in order to prepare your business technology for hurricane season?
- What happens if the office loses power?
- How many employees are needed to work during a disaster outage?
- How will employees get to your data and where will it be located?
- Should you consider a central meeting location, such as a hotel, if employees lose power at home?
Planning is the next step for how to prepare your business technology for hurricane season. Immediately following the Strategy Meeting, leadership should develop or update the “disaster recovery” or “business continuity” plan. It should account for the worst-case scenario that something like a hurricane can bring.
Work with your IT department and vendors to create a plan that puts safeguards in place for your company information and data. Also, include a needs list of any lacking systems or equipment and a timeline for obtaining them.
The plan should address questions and concerns voiced in the initial Strategy Meeting, as well as:
- Circumstances that will activate the plan
- Communications protocol and chain of command leading up to, during and after the disaster
- Emergency functions and who will perform them
- Equipment for personnel, particularly taking into account working from remote locations
- Anything else to help prepare your business technology for hurricane season
Setting Up Offsite Hosting and File Backup
Businesses need to have IT systems that help minimize downtime and keep operations running smoothly during a disaster. Setting these up can be as quick as two weeks for smaller organizations with simpler needs, to as long as a year for large organizations with more complicated needs. This is a critical element in helping to prepare your business technology for hurricane season.
At Atlas, we recommend a business continuity program that includes offsite hosting services as well as file backup on the cloud. We offer a ready-made solution to back up your files and store your data offsite so your business can continue operating even if systems are down in your office. On average, it takes two to four weeks to fully set up this program for our clients, but this does vary according to specific needs.
Find a level of service that will help you rest easy and prepare your business technology for hurricane season. If you go with an offsite hosting provider, consider opting for top-tier service, which should include battery backups and continuous up-time following a disaster. High-level hosting companies like the ones we work with have locations built to withstand Category 5 hurricanes, and generator and fuel contracts to keep them running indefinitely until power is restored.
In addition to digitally backing up documentation, you should also make hard copies as a safeguard. Store them in a location that won’t be impacted by the disaster. This will help prepare your business technology for hurricane season.
Test the Plan and Adjust
By May 1, make sure your team is familiar with the plan and test it.
It’s imperative that employees know their role in how to prepare your business for hurricane season. Run a mock disaster scenario. This will allow employees the chance to practice what to do during a real disaster. This also provides an opportunity to test the plan and make any necessary adjustments, should any issues arise during the practice run.
By mid-May, work to refine the plan to meet your business’ needs. Secure any additional equipment or systems and communicate the updated plan with staff. Run a mock scenario again and continue to improve the plan until you’re confident your business can run smoothly during a disaster.
Need help determining how to prepare your business for hurricane season? Contact us today to see how we can help.