Business Disaster Planning

Major disasters, such as earthquakes and large-scale power outages, are rare. Smaller disasters, such as server failure, burst pipes and fires however happen every day. Companies often prepare for the worst but forget the everyday challenges, which can be just as crippling.

When disaster strikes, having a plan and being able to put it into immediate action can mean the difference between staying open to service the needs of your customers and community or shutting down for a few days.

Following a disaster, statistics show ninety percent of companies fail within a year unless they can resume operations within five days. Having a plan can ensure that you’re back in business quickly and able to provide products and services to your community.

Disaster Testing

Testing is a critical component of business continuity planning. If your systems went down, how long would it take to get them up and running again, and what would be required to achieve that goal? Where are the gaps in your recovery plan and how can you close those gaps before a disaster strikes?

Testing your continuity plan is the best way to ensure that your business will remain in operation no matter what, or that it can be quickly restored under any circumstances. For many companies, testing is necessary for meeting compliance requirements.

Through testing, you will reduce both recovery time and risks, ultimately protecting your business and the employees and customers who rely on you.

  1. What to test – You should test all critical functions, particularly those that would be most vulnerable during an attack or disaster. This includes servers, PCs/workstations, network/Internet, building security, phones/communications, supply chain, workflow/staff procedures. Some managers phase their testing procedures, for instance, running a data recovery test one month and network/Internet recovery another month.
  2. Where to test – Testing can be done in one of three places: at your facility, at your backup center, or at an offsite testing site. You can choose to do a table-top-meeting-style run through or a full-scale hands-on test, using canned or live data.
  3. How often to test – We recommend that you do a full-scale test annually for a wide range of critical functions, including electricity, water, gas, facilities/spacing, staffing, technology, telecommunications and more. A full-scale test will help ensure that your business not only survive but thrive in any unexpected situation.
  4. Who should participate – A testing team should include all the people on your disaster recovery team or who are in charge of critical areas within the company. These should include, but not be limited to Facilities manager, IT tech, HR manager, senior management, brand management, third-party support and a sampling of critical clients.

Learn more about FEMA’s Testing Training and Exercise Program – Download PDF

Additional Resources