A hurricane can bring a small business to a halt, and may even kill the business. I am not trying to be spreading fear, but I have seen many small business that barely survived a storm because their data was destroyed.
As a business owner or manager you have to plan for the evacuation of your family and your business. Hurricane plans for your business need to address evacuation and should include getting your business back in operation as soon after the storm as possible. When putting your plan together there are two areas that need to be addressed in order to accomplish this goal. They are operational needs and the needs of your staff.
The best way to come up with a plan is to walk around your business and ask yourself what business processes are handled by this particular piece of equipment (i.e. - fax, server, email). Then decide which processes are mission critical. How can you redirect those processes if there is no electricity or even a building?
During the hurricane season, many of us are making evacuation plans for our families and pets. As we all know the media has a tendency to hype every little storm. Here is the link to the NOAA Hurricane site. When there are storms brewing, I visit this site often. There is no hype or advertising, just information.
What do you need to do?
Backups are critical.
- Ideally, the operations plan should include having 3 sets of computer backups, one of which is in the cloud. The other backups need to be assigned to two different people that will not be in the same geographic area. If possible one person should have your server with them.
- Use a cloud based service to mirror your data. All of your data. This may be as simple as Dropbox as a more extravagant cloud service. Either way, your data is mirrored onsite 24/7. Every laptop, desktop, and tablet. Worst case scenario is that you buy a new laptop and log in to the cloud and access all your data.
- Accounting data is critical. Being able to invoice and get paid will be mission critical for your business after a storm. No cash flow - no business. Migrating to a cloud based accounting solution must be high on your list.
- Tape or hard drive back-up is also critical. If you have to buy a new laptop and the internet is down (no cloud), then plug in the back-up drive and your in business.
- Get all the mobile devices connected to a cloud backup. Phones get destroyed in water, but yet they have everything thing you need to survive.
After the Storm
Another important factor in your plan is keeping track of your staff. After the storm, you’ll need to get your business back up and running as quickly as possible.
- Have your staff submit their evacuation plans to their supervisors. After the storm communication can be very challenging. Many times text messaging will work when the cell phones do not. Make sure that all of your staff knows how to use text messaging.
- Each manager should have a copy of all the management’s contact information and evacuation locations as well as their staff’s info. Your staff will have many needs depending on how hard the area is hit.
- After the event, the first thing should be to locate everyone to make sure that they are OK.
- Next you will need to do a survey of their needs. It will be challenging to maintain continuity if you staff is injured or homeless. After addressing the medical needs as much as possible, basic everyday needs will need to be addressed.
- Establishing a central location that has electricity and running water will help your staff and your business begin the process of returning to normal.