Planning for disaster isn’t the most glamorous of projects but ideally something that needs to be in place. If your business was suddenly the subject of fire, flood, theft or IT malfunctions, would you be able to continue to operate as normal?

Hopefully you’ll never have to recover from any of these, but having precautions in place will not only give you peace of mind but could also be the difference between making the best of a bad situation and failing to ever get off the ground again.

Premises and Workspace

If you witness fire or flood, it’s highly likely that your current premises will be off limits for at least some period of time. Whether this will restrict your operations will depend on the level of planning in place.
If you weren’t able to source alternative workspace, how would work be carried out? If you run a production line, you could be facing a desperate rush to find another building. If the right grounds aren’t available at a given time, what are the alternatives?

There are plenty of companies out there that offer temporary solutions, including rented offices and warehouses. You could potentially secure space within a few weeks or even sooner than that if you’ve made inquiries before the disaster.

For office-based staff, an ability to work remotely may be all that is needed. This is especially true if your documents have been digitized, which leads to the next point.

Documents and Records

Paper is everywhere in the office. Some of your most important files are probably in paper form, and it’s vital that they aren’t compromised in any way.

If they were destroyed by fire or flood, how would that impact your business? Many records hold information that is regularly required by staff. On top of that, a lot of records will be bound by legislation regarding retention periods. If you can’t produce them, you could be asking for trouble.

Possibly the most convenient and comprehensive way to prepare for this is by digitizing paper documents. Scanned copies of your original records can be stored electronically in the cloud and retrieved as and when needed.
You’ll also get a boost for security too. Secure cloud storage can be implemented with password controls to ensure that only authorized personnel to have access. From there, it’s simply a case of accessing documents from a Web browser.

IT and Infrastructure

For many businesses, there is a heavy reliance on IT. For the most part, it provides a streamlined ability to effectively house data and other vital components that your business needs to function. That doesn’t mean that your systems are exempt from failure, though.

In a lot of cases, a regular backup of everything you need will suffice. Which format you use is up to you. It could be CD, DVD, memory stick or even an offsite server. Daily or weekly backups will ensure you have a recent copy of everything you need.

If a disaster were to strike, you’ll be able to restore systems based on up-to-date copies that you hold, getting you back up and running.

Machinery and Equipment

There’s probably a lot of machinery or equipment that you use for day-to-day activities. Whether it’s production, IT or other equipment, chances are you’ll need at least some of these units to be able to operate.

If possible, try to determine the minimum scope you need in order to continue your services. Use this as a measuring stick for what needs replacing immediately in the event of disaster. Whether you purchase extra stock and keep it offsite or reserve a budget for promptly replacing the necessities, there should be ample room to get sorted straight away.

Staying Alive

Planning for disaster isn’t necessarily expecting the worst. In the grand scheme of things, not many businesses will find themselves in a hugely catastrophic situation.

That doesn’t mean that you should carry on without prepping for unfortunate incidents. As unlikely as it may be, isn’t it always better to live with a ‘better safe than sorry’ attitude?

Andy Morley works for Cleardata. The company offers cloud document services to help businesses keep file secure, backed up and available at any time.