Hurricane and Contingency Planning

9
Aug

Hurricane season started early this year.  Unlike most hurricane seasons, this year has been especially active for Jacksonville, Florida.  However, whether it is a hurricane, snow storm, flood, lightning, or simply aging equipment, businesses should assess their hurricane and contingency planning strategies, and how they can preserve their documents and records in the case of a catastrophe.

We have put together some ideas to help you with contingency planning for your business:

Create a backup of your records electronically

You don’t need to fill storage units with physical copies of important documents, but you should have an electronic copy of those documents that you can easily restore if needed.  Bank statements, tax returns, insurance policies, contracts, and tax source documents are a few common examples of what you should keep as electronic copies.  This can be achieved by scanning the documents and then backing them up to an external hard drive or burning them to a CD or DVD.  Make sure you update your backup media to keep up with technology changes as well.

Keep photographs of high value items

Keeping records of photographs and videotapes can significantly help you verify the market value of items subject to insurance and casualty loss claims.  After photos/videos are taken, the second step is to store them in a safe place outside of your area.    How far away?  Think about this, if a business in Louisiana stored their backups in Mississippi, this step may have been futile after Hurricane Katrina.

Update emergency procedures

Do your employees know what to do in the case of a catastrophic business event or change?  Make sure your employees know the business continuation plan if something happens to your building, computer systems, or other crucial property.  Make sure key employees know their role in managing an unforeseen business crisis.

Check on fiduciary bonds

Business owners using payroll providers should make sure they have a fiduciary bond in place.  The bond could protect the employer in the event of default by the payroll service provider.

Backup equipment can be as important as backup files

So the disaster is over and your office building has been swept away.  The good news is you have your file backups restored remotely.  How long will it take you to get a new server set up, new work stations, and all the software reinstalled so that you can restore the backups and be up and running again?  A more relevant question might be whether you are prepared if one of your servers simply dies of old age.  Will you be down for days?  Weeks?  Consider what sort of backup furniture and equipment you may need to continue business in the case of a catastrophe. Also, make sure you have the proper IT staff or resources in place to react quickly.

Know your business risk tolerance

When assessing disaster readiness, the question should be asked: how much is too much?  Is it worth having a backup equipment in a secure offsite location if a total disaster would also significantly affect your business’s customer base?  Depending on your business and customers, there will come a point where it is imprudent to prepare for a disaster from which your business cannot recover.