September is National Preparedness Month!

by Kevin Pelton, CISSP®

Although this isn’t a Hallmark greeting card occasion, it is a time for us each to consider our business’ state of readiness in the event of a disaster. How confident are you that your organization is prepared?

Disasters come in many forms and with varying degrees of probability and exposure. They range from the failure of critical Information Technology solutions to total destruction of your building and to every natural disaster you can imagine. Most businesses plan for critical IT systems failure, but what happens if your systems are “up” but your employees can’t get to work for days because of a winter storm?

Business continuity planning is what happens after the disaster in order to get your operations back to a functional state. In another scenario, a broken water pipe could flood your office over the weekend and greet you on Monday morning with damage to your equipment plus office space that is uninhabitable. (We didn’t make this one up – this actually happened to one of our clients. Because of the good processes they had in place they were able to quickly recover.)

While business continuity planning seems overwhelming – and trust us, it can be! – here are a few small steps you can take now that could make a big impact if you don’t already have a BCP in place.

  1. Call your insurance carrier and ask about business interruption insurance. The added peace of mind with coverage could be well worth the annual premium – let alone your relief if you ever have to file a claim.
  2. Create a communication plan for your organization. If you experience a disaster – how will you alert your employees and keep them updated on the situation? Something as simple as a calling tree can work for many organizations. Having a calling tree in place will allow you to prioritize the calls and inform everyone quickly.
  3. Identify your key clients and/or vendors and document their contact information. These are the people you would want/need to contact immediately following a disaster.

Even with the greatest amount of planning and preparation, there will always be unforeseen circumstances in any disaster. The more effort you put into preparation, the better opportunity you have to recover quickly and minimize losses.