While the task of preparing for natural disasters may sound grim, it’s actually a prime opportunity. As you get ready to weather storms and other curveballs nature throws your way, you can also bolster the general resiliency of your company. Once implemented, many of the tools and techniques described below both prepare you for natural disasters and strengthen your overall digital infrastructure.
Here’s what you can start doing now to make sure the next natural disaster has a minimal impact on your operations.
Assess Your Risks
The scope of your risks depends on the digital assets your operation depends on, as well as those most likely to be affected by a disaster. This makes every business continuity plan unique. So, while it’s impossible to provide a checklist that applies to every single business, here are some risks that many companies have to consider:
- Internal servers and data centers
- Your communications systems, such as cell phones, email, and unified communications solutions team members use to collaborate
- Data storage systems, including desktop computers at individual employees’ workstations
- Customer-facing payment processing portals, especially if they’re housed on-premises
Assess Operational Risks
In addition to the above systems, you’ll also want to assess which processes may be most at risk in the event of a natural disaster. For example, suppose you run a shipping company, and you have a fulfillment center at your place of business. You have an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that you use to collect and process shipping information. You run your ERP on an on-premise server.
Here are some of the operational risks you may want to prepare for:
- Losing shipment data for orders customers expect to go out the day the disaster happens
- Not being able to process orders because your ERP’s server isn’t working
- An inability to receive calls from customers due to a failure in your unified communications system
- Employees who normally work in your office have their productivity hindered by a lack of connectivity—or not being able to come in at all
Set Up a Redundancy and Backup Program
By backing up data to offsite locations and using the cloud, you insulate your most business-critical information from the impacts of disasters. For many companies, the best way to establish a backing-up system is to choose locations in different climates.
For example, a company in San Francisco may choose to backup data to a data center in Seattle. If the Bay area gets hit with flooding, chances are the Seattle data center won’t be impacted.
A redundancy program also keeps your digital infrastructure more secure because it gives you fallback systems you can spin up if a disaster hits. Here are some systems that often benefit from having a redundant version in a different location:
- Internet service, such as from a different ISP
- Servers, such as those that host your website or payment system
- Data storage, including backup systems—as in a backup for your backup
- Business-critical databases, such as those your business app needs to function
Train Your Team so They Know What to Do
By getting everyone on the same page regarding what to do, why, and how, you can minimize the downtime that often results from a natural disaster.
To illustrate, suppose you have some employees that work in-house and others that work from home. Those who are on your premises use an app that you host locally in your office, and those who work from home gain access to it through a VPN.
First, you decide to put a redundant version of your business app in the cloud, which is a good move. But you then have to train your team regarding:
- How to access your cloud-hosted app
- What to do if they lose or can’t remember their credentials
- Any differences in how the cloud version of the app works. These could include where they have to save their work or how to send documents from a mobile device instead of their desktop.
- The kinds of natural disasters and situations that would necessitate a jump to the could. For example, if it’s clear a power outage will be short-lived, it may be best to wait it out. But if an outage is predicted to last more than two to three hours, your staff should be ready to shift to the cloud-based version.
For many companies, the roles during a disaster will vary. For example, the IT team may have to stay on standby to help people access and use redundant systems. Or your sales team may need to change the phones they use to reach out to customers.
It’s best to put action steps in writing so it’s easy for everyone to access before and during an event.
Get a Step Ahead of Natural Disasters Now
It’s not always easy to identify and then prepare the assets and systems that could be affected by a natural disaster, and this is where Robust Networks comes into play. We work with you to devise a custom-suited plan to make your business resilient—no matter what nature has planned. Learn more by connecting with us today.