As the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy has reminded us, this seems like an appropriate time to review the importance of planning for disasters. If you live in and around the NYC metro area you likely encountered some level of disruption in the aftermath of the big storm. If you were lucky it was just a temporary disruption and if not then it was surely a devastating event. While larger (especially public) companies are likely well prepared for disasters, small and medium sized companies tend to remain at risk. Planning for smaller companies requires less time and less cost to implement, but the lack of planning is no less devastating should the unthinkable materialize. So, what are we talking about in terms of planning? It boils down to this:
1. Make absolutely certain any and all important electronic documents/files are regularly and automatically backed-up to an offsite location. This can be accomplished easily through services such as Mozy and Carbonite.
2. Even if you are experiencing a disruption you don’t want your customer experience to suffer. This means hosting your web site and email server offsite so they stay up when the office goes down.
3. Communicating with clients and prospective clients likely means working telephones are a must. If you use your local cable provider, VOIP, or have an in-house system then you can likely forward all in-bound calls to an alternative number.
4. Plan to utilize a cloud infrastructure provider (Amazon EC2, Rackspace, etc.) to provide server computing resources. All of your backed up files can be restored to cloud-based server images and be available to employees regardless of where they are working.
5. Depending on the nature/size of your operation, some of your employees can work from home, and others might have to be housed in temporary office space. If you know someone else with office space nearby you should make plans ahead of time to share any available space. Remember to call local property managers as they usually have an empty suite in their back pocket that they can rent on a short-term basis.
Put a plan in writing and test the plan annually. As your business evolves you will need to adjust your plan.
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