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Blog By: Garry Watts, CPCU, CRM

Pick up a newspaper, turn on the TV or radio, or check your favorite social news media sites and you will soon realize that disasters are occurring all over the world every day.  Most of you know that Winona had a large fire in the downtown area a few weeks ago.  In light of this, it caused me to think through our disaster recovery plan for our own business.  We have a recovery plan; I just had not looked at it in awhile.  We built our disaster recovery plan three years ago.  We thought through ten steps which I would like to pass on to you.  I will add a question or two beside each point, to help you understand the step and the thinking process that needs to be done for each.  Here they are:

1.        Assess your risk-both internally and externally.

a.       What type of area do you live in?  (Flood plain, fault line, industrial area, residential area)

b.      Is the building old or new?  Suspect to break-ins?  Are there combustibles?

2.       Assess your critical business functions.

a.       If your business experienced a disaster, which departments of the company would need to be up and running with a seamless transition to your clients/vendors?

b.      How long could you withstand an interruption to critical functions?

3.       Prepare your supply chain.

a.       If a supplier or vendor has a disaster, what is their plan in case of an emergency?

b.      Identify and eliminate single points of failure.

4.       Create an emergency management plan.

a.       Identify the steps that would minimize the impact, protect and re-assure stakeholders, and prepare for recovery.

b.      Include the notification and management of employees, clients, vendors, suppliers and the media. 

5.       Back up your data.

a.       Make sure that the data back up is stored off premises.

b.      Test your back plan regularly.

6.       Create a crisis communication plan.

a.       Who is responsible to start a phone or communication tree?  By what mediums will you communicate?  Will you establish an emergency call in number?

b.      Develop a process to make sure all stakeholders are aware of decisions and expectations.

7.       Assemble an emergency kit.

a.       What simple items does your business need to run the most basic of tasks?  Keep these off site possibly.

b.      What important records, contracts, system install disks, licensing keys need to be identified?

8.       Review your insurance coverage.

a.       Have you had your agent/broker do a gap analysis recently? 

b.      Make sure you and your agent review not only what you are covered for, but also what you are not covered for so there are never any surprises.

c.       Video or keep photos of your building, equipment, or home.

9.       Plan for an alternate location.

a.       If your building is destroyed or you are unable to access it, where would your employees go?   Where will you do business from?

b.      Have you arranged for a reciprocal agreement with another business?

10.   Test your plan.

a.       Employees change, routes out of your building may change due to remodel work, time passes.  Those who test are ready to execute if anything happens.

b.      Do an annual test, and update the plan as necessary. 

c.       Make sure to re-educate employees when any changes to the plan are made, or employees change. 

Disaster planning is a process.  Test it, evaluate it, and revise it.  

Posted 9:23 AM

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