Preparing for Technical Disaster: Don’t Blow a Fuse
With high-tech gear playing a critical role in the operation of small businesses, planning for potential disasters or tech-related interruptions is an important step in protecting your business.
Careful technology maintenance often eliminates the need to implement disaster plans, but if the worst does happen, an effective plan is invaluable to business operations.
Preparing for technical disaster is a two-step process: taking necessary steps to prevent tech-related problems, and forecasting how the company responds if operations are disrupted by a tech meltdown. For many companies, being able to respond quickly and efficiently is a major factor in determining how well, or even if, a company survives an extended disruption.
High-Tech Disaster Planning
The first step in disaster planning is preventing interruptions from occurring in the first place. An ounce of prevention IS worth a pound of cure when it comes to computers, servers, smart phones and other expensive, high-tech equipment.
To prevent common technology disruptions, make sure company computers and servers have the latest updates to their operating systems, applications and security software. This one, simple step reduces the risk of a computer virus, worm, Trojan horse or other forms of malware from disrupting company activity.
Similarly, back up company data off site. Everybody understands the importance of backing up data, but few companies do it as frequently as they should. Further, back-ups usually take place in the same physical space that the original data is stored not much help if a fire takes out the home office.
On-line backup services encrypt business data and automatically transfer key information to an off-site storage center, delivering peace of mind that comes with knowing that data is protected and it’s business as usual, even when disaster strikes.
Disaster prevention should also be a consideration as you plan workplace layout or install new IT equipment. For instance, keeping the company server in the office basement may be convenient, but that placement also increases the server’s chance of water damage when the basement floods.
Similarly, leaving a data-rich laptop on an unattended desk increases the likelihood of theft. Anyone in a custodian’s uniform simply slides the laptop into the recycling bin and you’ve got trouble. BIG trouble.
Make sure employees who travel with laptops take appropriate measures to protect them and the data they contain. Password protect all computers, encrypt sensitive client data and lock laptops securely in place.
These and other basic steps reduce exposure to technology-related disruptions, and business interruptions, as well.
Maintain an inventory of all company equipment, including serial numbers, maintenance schedules, service contracts and other important information required to file an insurance claim.
Expect the Best; Plan for the Worst
Unfortunately, even the best plans can be disrupted by a natural catastrophe or a major technology failure. After a significant disruption is not the best time to figure out what to do about it. Planning for the worst case scenario is the best way to respond and recover from a disaster.
Discuss your company’s disaster planning needs with your insurance professional to develop industry-specific risk management strategies.
In a workplace emergency, the safety of employees and customers is always the number one consideration. Smoke detectors, evacuation plans, regular safety drills and a posted list of emergency phone numbers are essential in preventing or reacting to a crisis.
Two-way, open communication is another important aspect of a disaster response, so plan, in advance, who contacts employees, customers or suppliers in the event of a disruption.
Identifying responsibilities, or an alternate workplace even if it’s your house or garage gives you a head start on important tasks like downloading backup copies of customer data immediately after a disaster.
Letting employees, clients, customers, vendors and suppliers know about the event also reduces panic and maintains goodwill as operations return to normal.
You never know when the server hard drive will be cooked. You can’t plan for theft of expensive IT hardware, but you can take steps to prevent tech disasters in a tech-dependent business environment.
Talk to your bank’s insurance professional or contact your carrier for tips on how to protect your IT gear.
Prepare to blow a fuse and when it happens, your business is still in business.