Disaster Recovery

If a natural disaster was to strike North Florida, would your company survive? Would your employees know what to do if your building went up in flames one night? If so, what would happen when a customer called your office? No answer? Busy signal? Every organization, no matter what the size should have a disaster recovery plan in place.

The object of any disaster recovery plan is to maintain some semblance of order during an emergency and allow essential business activities to continue. Telecom and data needs are an integral part of this plan.

You should have remote call forwarding on your primary incoming telephone number. In the event of an emergency, you can immediately call forward your lines to a temporary place of business or even your home. Or your calls could be forwarded to an answering service, such as Answer-Rite. The answering service would not only take all of your calls, but could connect callers with employees at their home phones or on cellular phones. You must have a method to quickly reroute your incoming telephone calls.

Part of your plan must include an up-to-date employee list. This list should have all of the employees home telephone, pager, and cellular numbers. Employees "emergency contact" numbers should also be included in case an undesirable event should occur at work. Another essential part of your plan is a vendor list complete with telephone and fax numbers and E-mail addresses.

The actual written plan should be put into a three-ring binder. There should be a master copy located in a secure place of your business. At least one key person should have an updated copy of this plan at their home. This way employees could be notified of an after-hours situation and properly instructed.

Another consideration is your computer system. Always, always backup your files regularly. Approximately 43% of businesses in which all information is lost never reopen. Of those that do reopen, 29% ceased operations within two years. Backup tape drives that can backup your whole system can cost less than $250, a small price to pay compared to the cost of your business. Always keep a recent backup somewhere other than your office.

A laptop computer would be a big help during an emergency. You could use it to fax and send E-mail, and even run your customer database. As essential as computers are to business today, a laptop is an investment you should consider.

In the event of a natural disaster, what will be the critical requirements for your business. For example, hospitals and emergency medical centers will have to be able to treat patients. Insurance agents will have to be able to take care of policyholders claims. Our company will have to be able to restore our business customer’s telephone systems. What will be the priorities of your business during an emergency? What plans should you make to insure that those priorities can be accomplished?

The demands on your telephone system will actually increase in a natural disaster. Hospitals and emergency medical centers will be inundated with calls from patients loved ones. Insurance Agencies will be flooded with calls from policyholders with claims. Home repair centers and rental companies will certainly have their phones ringing off the hook. What can you do to handle such a massive increase in call volume?

You can have one or more people assigned to answer and route calls during an emergency. Your telephone system must be programmed to route incoming calls to these secondary answering positions. An auto-attendant would be a great help. Even if no one could get to the business, employees could remotely retrieve messages. Also, automated attendants could be remotely programed to connect callers with employees at their homes, on their cell phones or temporary offices. Of course telephone systems and automated attendants have to have power. Battery backups are a must and a portable generator is something that should be considered.

A disaster recovery plan is essential to every business. The plan must include a method of performing your business’ most critical priorities. You have to plan a method for contacting employees quickly in the event of an emergency and giving them instructions on what to do and where (from home, temporary location, etc. . . . ) to do it from. You must have systems in place that can help you overcome a disaster such as uninterruptable power supplies, automated attendants, call forwarding, auxiliary answering positions, cellular phones, and laptop computers.

The only way you can truly test your disaster recovery plan is to put it to use during an actual emergency. Hopefully, that day will never come. However, preparing and evaluating your plan with the help of your associates will enable your business to survive most any disaster.

Sincerely,

Larry Nazworth
Gainesville: (352)224-3040
Ocala: (352)547-3230
Jacksonville: (904)562-2100

Jacksonville (904)562-2100
Gainesville (352)224-3040
Ocala (352)547-3230