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Will your business survive when disaster hits?

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Hurricane Sandy taught us one thing about disaster planning: recovery is not always possible. Wreaking power outages, cell phone interruption, physical damage, spoilage and immobility, the hurricane deluged the East Coast with monetary losses estimated at $10 to $20 billion. In the aftermath, Sandy shut many small business doors forever. Those lacking the infrastructure to support a Disaster Recovery Plan did not survive the hurricane.

Companies have a duty to perform, maintain communication and connectivity with stakeholders, and comply with federal regulations with regard to secure data storage and reporting.

When is a good time to draft a Disaster Recovery Plan? President Kennedy said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” In business, this means having a plan to safeguard IT infrastructure before an event. During an emergency is the wrong time to unveil your Disaster Recovery Plan.

How do you prioritize what to do in an emergency? The time to address vital records, necessary back-up methods, and appropriate back-up schedules is when the sun is shining. Forming a disaster recovery team taps members of each business unit to assess the business impact of a disaster and analyze potential risks. An honest Business Impact Analysis (BIA) narrows down the list of risks and their consequences to a level acceptable to senior management. The tolerance level dictates how much recovery required.

The goal of Disaster Recovery Planning is to achieve a viable, effective and economical recovery across all technology domains while addressing the continuity of business as a whole including personnel; communication; technology; facilities; electronic payment systems; liquidity concerns; financial disbursement; and manual operations from the highest level of management on down. A Disaster Recovery Plan with clear, measurable objectives ensures repeatable outcomes. For busy executives, we give you four easy steps:

* Identify your target time for system recovery.

* Accept a tangible objective as your recovery point.

* Determine how you will meet your recovery goal.

* Aspire to achieve your recovery goal within your target timeframe.

Technology issues play a critical role in the recovery process; therefore, comprehensive inventories should be maintained, and systems and data prioritized. Identifying in advance, critical business data, and where it resides will make it easier to ensure its availability during restoration.

How do you know if your Disaster Recovery Plan works? If your plan is uncomplicated, straightforward and clearly delegated, it can be practiced more regularly as an exercise without inordinate downtime in productivity. Testing a Disaster Recovery Plan can be challenging, especially when requirements dictate inspection and verification of data from an off-site computing center. To garner the most from your Disaster Recovery Plan, assess the outcomes of your exercises, track your company’s improvement from one exercise to the next and develop strategies to improve your time to business resumption. The benefit of having a plan will pay huge dividends by preventing loss of revenue, minimizing business disruption and developing a teamwork philosophy to business continuity.

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Submitted by Taranet Inc. Risk Management Services

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