Evaluating any company’s disaster preparedness is a difficult job. Even major international corporations dread these kinds of audits because they usually reveal pretty big flaws in their systems and force management to reevaluate their modus operandi. When it comes to small businesses, disaster readiness is even more important, as they’re more prone to falling prey to an unexpected catastrophe.
As a small business owner, you need to make sure that you have the right business continuity plan in place, the right software installed on your company computers, as well as train your employees in the best practices in secure handling of company assets and data. This article will help you conduct a disaster preparedness audit and provide you with valuable tips to ensure the continuity of your company, regardless of what happens.
Before You Begin
If you are serious about evaluating your company’s disaster readiness, make sure you do it right. Otherwise, there’s a good chance that your efforts will be in vain. The first step is to find the right people to perform the audit. Ideally, these people should not be part of the IT department and should come from an outside party. If you don’t have the right people on your staff to perform this task, then you need to look outside for help.
The next step is to develop an outline for the audit. This outline should include all of the possible disaster scenarios that you could face and ways of dealing with them. The last step is to set up a meeting with all of the stakeholders involved in the process and discuss the audit findings. Make sure you set up some kind of follow-up system so that everyone stays on track with their disaster readiness goals.
Start With Business Continuity Planning
The first step in preparing for any kind of disaster scenario is to create a detailed plan for business continuity. As C2 software creators remind us, this plan should be updated as often as possible and should include guidelines on how to deal with various situations that might arise, e.g., theft or loss of company property, earthquake, fire, fire drill, power surge, flood, terrorism threat, and many more. Your business continuity plan should include each possible scenario and outline what steps you should take to minimise the impact of any disaster event.
Perform a Disaster Readiness Audit
The audit will usually include all the necessary tools for your business and a checklist of items you should have in place. Usually, the auditors will also provide a detailed report with all the required steps in order to ensure the continuity of your business.
Evaluate Your IT Situation
While it might be obvious that your company needs to be protected from natural disasters, it’s less apparent that your company’s computers need to be wary of both hardware and software failures. The problem is that even small businesses can fall prey to a cyber-attack, as hackers are constantly looking for new ways to breach company servers and steal sensitive data files.
To keep your company safe, you should make sure that your computers are protected at all times, preferably by installing some kind of antivirus software on each of them. You can also consider using a remote backup solution to protect all important data files or even implement a two-factor authentication system. Don’t forget about educating your staff to reduce the risk of endangering the company by human error.
Establish Efficient Communication Procedures
Disasters aren’t confined to just one geographical area, so it’s crucial that all employees know how they should communicate during a disaster scenario. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t rely on social media presence and messaging apps like WhatsApp. Moreover, you should also consider establishing phone calls or emails to communicate with employees throughout the disaster response process.
Consider Outsourcing Disaster Recovery Solutions
While it’s true that you can install disaster recovery solutions and train your employees in the best practices in handling these kinds of scenarios, it’s still safer to hire an independent third party to handle the situation for you. Outsourcing your disaster recovery solutions is the safest way to ensure the continuity of your business, especially if you’re a small business with limited resources.
Make a Full-Scale Disaster Recovery Simulation
You should definitely consider running a full-scale disaster recovery simulation once a year to see how your employees are going to react in the middle of a crisis. You can even hire independent contractors to stage a disaster scenario and observe your employees’ reactions. Such simulations can give you essential insights into how your employees handle these kinds of situations and allow you to make the necessary changes to keep your business afloat.
Your employees are your first line of defence against any kind of disaster scenario. They are also the people who can save your company from a complete fiasco due to lack of preparedness. Therefore, they must be trained in the best practices for securing company assets and data and ensuring continuity in times of disaster.
Disaster preparedness is a necessary process that every business should engage in on a regular basis. The results of an audit should be reviewed and analysed by all stakeholders, and the company should take action to ensure that they are ready for any kind of emergency.
Keep in mind that business continuity planning is the key to disaster readiness. It will ensure that your company is prepared for any event that might occur, thus minimising the impact of disaster events and preventing loss of productivity time, financial losses, and potential lawsuits.