From hurricanes to fires to cyberattacks, a wide range of disasters can befall your New Jersey business at any time. Their effects can be devastating, and they can even halt your operations for a prolonged period. That's why it's important for you to have a disaster preparedness plan (DPP) to help prevent or lessen the damage of a disaster and quickly resume normal business operations.
But how can you be sure that your strategy to mitigate disasters will actually work? By following this five-point disaster preparedness checklist, you can guarantee that your business is ready for any disruptions or catastrophes.
1. Assess the risks
The first step in preparing for a disaster is to assess all the potential risks and hazards to your business, and then prioritize them based on their likelihood of occurring. For instance, businesses in New Jersey may be affected by severe hurricanes and flooding, so these disasters should be high on your list. A good way to visualize threats to business continuity is to create a risk map, which is a graphical representation of all risks and their impacts.
2. Appoint key personnel
In the event of a disaster, you will need to have leaders who can take charge and make decisions. This is necessary so that your plan can be enacted in an organized and efficient manner.
Some of the key personnel you will need to appoint include:
- A crisis manager, who will coordinate the overall disaster response;
- A communication manager, who will be in charge of communicating with employees, customers, and the media; and
- A recovery manager, who will oversee the process of getting your business back up and running.
3. Protect your employees
Your employees should be equipped with the skills and resources that will enable them to survive or carry on in the event of a disaster. For instance, they should know who to contact for assistance and where to go if they need to evacuate. They should also know where to find emergency supplies that they can take with them, such as food, water, and first aid.
Employee safety is especially critical to businesses in the manufacturing and construction industries, as these sectors already face a high degree of worker exposure and potential for harm, which can be exacerbated by disasters.
4. Secure your backups
In the event of a disaster, you will need to have access to your data and files so you can keep operations going. It’s therefore essential to create copies of all of your critical data and files and store them safely. This involves creating backups of any software or applications you use, as well as any website files. If you use a content management system such as WordPress, make sure you create a backup of your database as well.
If you use cloud-based applications, have a backup plan in place in case cloud servers go down. And if you keep any physical files, such as customer data or financial records, make sure they are stored in a fireproof and waterproof safe.
Related reading: Best practices for backup management
5. Regularly test your plan
Regularly testing your DPP ensures that it is effective and that everyone always knows what to do in the event of a disaster. Conduct drills or simulations; for example, you can simulate a power outage by turning off the lights and having employees work in the dark. Or you can set off the fire alarm and practice your fire evacuation procedure.
Conducting regular drills will help ensure that your employees are prepared for a real disaster. It also uncovers any weaknesses in your plan so you can address them before an actual disaster strikes.
By following these five disaster preparedness tips, you can better prepare your business for any catastrophe. Learn more about how to ensure business continuity in our eBook, “7 Rules even the most basic backup & disaster recovery plan must follow.” Download your FREE copy now!