Pagoda Blog

How to Set Up a Disaster Recovery Plan for Your Business

September 3, 2020

When natural disaster strikes, you want your business to be prepared to weather the storm. Here in Santa Cruz County as we’ve battled the CZU Lightning Complex Fire over the past couple weeks, and as dozens of other counties battle their own fires across the state, we’ve been jarringly reminded of how quickly conditions can change and get out of our control. These fires have reminded us that natural disasters rarely give you a fair warning. You may have barely enough time to pack a few essentials before you’re required to evacuate your place of business. That’s why it’s so important to have a disaster recovery plan in place ahead of time. 


Over the last 20 years, we’ve helped clients from a wide variety of industries build their own disaster recovery plans, saving irreplaceable data and allowing them to continue running their business in the face of fires, floods, and power outages. Regardless of your business, the following steps are the backbone of a strong disaster recovery plan.


Utilize cloud storage and regular backups  

Moving your business to the cloud is a nearly foolproof way to ensure your data is safe and accessible should disaster strike. By storing data and running applications through the cloud, you guarantee that any employee with an internet connection can still access what they need to perform their job, even if the office is inaccessible. Office 365 makes it easy to continue using your favorite Microsoft applications, like Word and Excel, with the addition of other useful cloud-based tools such as OneNote and Teams. Another great option for remote collaboration is Google’s G Suite


While Office 365 and G Suite do store your files in the cloud, they do not guarantee recovery of lost data. For example, you may accidentally delete files and fail to retrieve them before they’re permanently deleted. (Google and Microsoft only retain deleted data for a short period of time.) A second, more common, scenario is to lose data during a disruption or outage. For these reasons, we always recommend using a third party to backup Office 365 or G Suite data. Regular, third party backups, in addition to using cloud-based applications and storage, provides you with the greatest ease of access and security.


Go paperless    

This ties into utilizing cloud storage, of course, but it’s important to note that going paperless will significantly reduce your losses in the case of a natural disaster, like a fire or flood. (Remember that flooding could also be caused by something like a backed up mainline in your building, so water damage can be a threat regardless of geographic location.) Digitizing all your physical files and records is a time investment up front that will save you significant time and money in the long run. This is true whether or not you experience a natural disaster. Going paperless can also provide you and your employees the flexibility to work remotely.       


Store account logins in a password manager

Again, this ties back to running your business from the cloud but it’s important to underscore the importance of a password manager to avoid disrupting your business should you lose access to your office. If you store account usernames and passwords in a physical planner or on a sticky note pasted to your desktop, a natural disaster could cause you to lose access (at least temporarily) to critical business accounts. A password manager organizes and securely stores all your login information so you can easily access it from any device. You can also share login information (with limited access as needed) with your employees, contractors, and IT team. 


Use a VoIP phone service  

Setting up a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone service for your business makes it so much easier to stay in touch with clients and your team when you’re dealing with a natural disaster. A VoIP service travels with you since it’s run through the internet instead of your local phone company, allowing you to receive work calls through your mobile device or your desktop at home. There’s often no extra charge for multiple lines or conference calls, making it easy and affordable to stay connected with your team and clients. Lastly, if the internet goes down, the service can be automatically forwarded to your mobile device.   


Establish an internal communication plan 

If you need to evacuate your place of work for an extended period of time, how will your employees continue to work and stay in touch with their supervisors and colleagues? Establish an internal communication plan that includes the technology you will use to connect (like Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams), how often you will hold remote check-ins, and how employees should brief supervisors on current projects. This plan should remain flexible and be updated as you discover what works and what doesn’t. For example, your employees may prefer audio-only calls to video, or you may decide that team members can conduct most check-ins via email or a messaging platform like Slack. The important thing is that you have at least a basic plan in place so that there is as little disruption in the workflow as possible should your team have to suddenly adapt to working from home


Write out your plan and share it with your entire team 

This is so important but easily overlooked. Once you have a disaster recovery plan in place, make sure that you share it with your entire team, regularly. Incorporate the plan into your onboarding process for all new employees and take the time to review and update your plan on a regular basis. (We recommend at least quarterly.) 


Taking the time to create a disaster recovery plan will help mitigate the damage should you experience an unexpected natural (or human-caused) disaster. It ensures that you still have access to critical data, applications, and systems that you rely on for daily operations. 


Have questions about setting up a disaster recovery plan for your business? We can help you build out a custom plan that prepares you for the worst and allows you to keep performing at your best. Get in touch.  


Related reading: 

How to Use Technology to Improve Collaboration in the Workplace

Video Conference Call Etiquette and Security Tips

Managing Cybersecurity During a Pandemic and Civil Unrest


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