Disaster recovery planning for your business

After flash floods struck much of the UK in the summer of 2007, thousands of businesses were put out of action for months as they tried to recover valuable data, furniture and rebuild their premises. Being prepared for the worst is essential, so if disaster does strike, you can re-start your business as soon as possible. This guide will help you to assess your risks and plan to combat them.

Why do I need to plan for a disaster?

It almost goes without saying that for small businesses, the impact of an unexpected crisis can be devastating. After any downtime, however brief, you are likely to lose out on business - customers don't want to have to wait - but there is a chance that you could be forced to cease trading altogether. A good contingency plan can also help to prove to potential stakeholders - from insurance companies to investors - that you're reliable.

Assessing the risks

Contingency planning involves taking a certain situation, analysing the likelihood of it happening to your business, and then working out how much of an impact it will have on the day-to-day workings of the business. You need to decide what you will do about each risk, depending on how big the risk is: for example, it's unlikely you'll want to encase your premises in lead to ward off nuclear attack, but if you are in a low-lying area, you may want to think about guarding your business against floods.

Testing your disaster recovery plan

Although it's difficult to predict how much of an impact an unexpected disaster will have, it's important to be able to work out on paper exactly which steps you will take. Make it clear which role each of your employees will play during a crisis, and try to make sure you have set your points out in order of priority to limit the amount of damage the incident will do to the business.

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